When Dreams Collide

I am in full agreement with Armando for once, and I mean that neither ironically nor sarcastically.

Even now, at the eleventh hour, I still remain skeptical; I still refuse to believe that it is over until Hillary delivers a concession speech. But as it looks increasingly more likely that Obama will be the undisputed presumptive nominee by this time tomorrow, I refuse to gloat.

I think Armando’s reference to “fathers of daughters” really did it for me. As I might have mentioned once or twice here, there’s nothing more important to me than my daughters and I do have some not so secret hopes that they’ll enter this world of politics that I have come to be so in love with.

Hey, some dads want their kids to get in sports, I want mine to deliver stump speeches.

In fact, I kind of have dreams of, thirty years or so from now, watching one of my daughters take the oath of office while OpEd after OpEd spills out about the youngest president, the first female president, the first Asian American president, and Hillary paved a significant part of the path to that over the course of the last year and a half.

The Democratic race for the nomination has been about many things. It’s been about ideas, and about standing up and fighting back against a political debate that has been controlled by Republican ideology for far too long. And it has also been about dreams.

it’s been about the dream not just of seeing a black man being sworn into office, but about the rise of multi-culturalism, one of the bedrocks of America in my opinion, rising to a legitimacy and validity it has never enjoyed before. On a personal level for me, my identification with Obama didn’t stem from the fact that he was black, but because he was of mixed heritage, and that similar to my own youth, his youth was colored with a rich tapestry of experiences and cultures. And increasingly this imperfect America that I love is cast in not a monochrome hue but instead in a cacophony of colors and histories that make us stronger as a people.

And it’s also been about the dream to see a woman finally rise up and show the rest of the country that what is between your legs has no bearing on whether or not you can lead a nation. But it’s deeper than that. It’s not just in showing that women are equal, but that they can be and often are superior.

I once remarked that sexism is more complex than racism, and it is. As biological creatures, men and women will always be driven by their hormones to not just see a person, but to see potential mates, and centuries and eons of culture have contributed to deeply ingrained emotional automatic responses that have attached themselves to those biological urges. Male dominance allowed for objectification and ultimately subjugation and a seemingly blind acceptance of the two.

Men and women are programmed to appreciate the flesh of the other (unless of course you are homosexual in which you are programmed to appreciate the flesh of the same), but in our male dominated society, that appreciation has twisted itself into something far more ugly; something dominant and dismissive.

And so, as a man whose own microcosmic world is dominated by women, this is where I identify. The women in my life, my mother who molded me, my wife who challenges and enriches me, my boss who on a daily basis shows me what strength is about, and my daughters through whose eyes I see a wondrous future, have built for me perhaps a different image of the opposite sex than what our culture today would seem to suggest. To these women, all, I consider myself weak and inferior. And in Clinton’s run, I saw the potential for others to see women the way I do, to accept their role, and their potential role, in our culture the way I do.

Neither candidate was a perfect vessel, and there has been plenty for all sides to be ashamed over the course of the past year and a half. But that’s fine. We’re humans, and we can’t help but to approach progress clumsily, awkwardly, sometimes dangerously.

And yet there has been much to be proud of for both sides as well. I think, for me, one of the proudest moments in this primary has to have been in Iowa, when, despite the improbability, an almost unanimously white rural community stood and vaulted a liberal black senator to high prominence in the general election.

For Hillary Clinton, while you may find her ethics and tactics in question, I can’t help remembering my Republican stepfather who told me not long ago that he had gained a lot of respect for her, and began to see her in a new light. Despite how she got to where she did, in the final months of the primary she made it clear she wasn’t going down without one hellacious fight.

I must admit, even now my emotions regarding this race are still both mixed and intense. I harbor quite a bit of resentment towards Clinton, and more so against some of her more vitriolic supporters, and yet, if this primary ends the way it looks like it is going to end, I can’t help but imagine that in the long run this will all be good for the party, for equality, and for the country.

In this contest we were faced with two dreams that were destined to collide. In the plainest sense, such a situation would have to ultimately mean that one dream would continue to live on, at least for a while, while the other dream would have to die. But I don’t think it’s as simple as that.

For Obama, he moves on. He will continue to run what I believe is an extraordinary campaign, and he will be beset by racism on all sides. As a symbolic candidacy, the work has yet to begin but there is much hope that we will see it through.

For Clinton, her candidacy may be over but I think the symbolic aspect to it is still very much alive. I have read on pro-Clinton websites in the past that Clinton is unique, that she’s the last best hope for a woman to win the White House for at least the near to middle future, but somehow I don’t think so.

You can see it that way, or you can see it as though she opened a door. She proved to women that you can fight for the highest office in the land, and you might lose, but you can still compete, and eventually someone is going to win. We can shy away from the challenge, we can sit down and say, well, women just can’t win the presidency yet, or, and I have faith in humanity and our party on this, we can say, you know what? Not this time, but that means we need to push harder, we need more women to stand up and run, and fight.

What I really hope to see from this in the future, and I mean the NEAR future, is not turning away from the idea of a female president but a concerted push for one. I want to see the flood gates open, and some will try it the way Hillary did, and some will forge their own path, and I think that’s more than possible. Call me naive, call me overly hopeful.

I think the only thing that makes this primary a failure for anyone is a lack of courage to try again.

So, yes, as Armando points out, history has been denied, but I don’t think of it as a denial so much as a postponement, and, if we are truly a party of diversity, that postponement will not be long lived.

And if the floodgates opening means that my daughters are robbed of the chance to be the first female president, I think I’ll be pretty happy regardless.

I guess I’ll just settle for first Asian American president instead.

(edited by DrGail)

One Response to “When Dreams Collide”

  1. DrGail says:

    The first barrier (to a woman becoming president, for example) is always conceptual.

    People can now conceive of a woman becoming president — they may not like it, they may be determined not to vote for a woman, but they can conceive it.

    That, in itself, is a victory.

    Because, once you can conceive of something, it becomes possible.

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