By John Cloud
An acronym for “party unity my ass,” this term was the rallying cry of Clinton supporters who backed her candidacy even after many party leaders called for consensus around Obama in order to ensure a unified Democratic front going into the general election. As Barrett of doubletongued.org points out, PUMAs hoped to bring the Clinton-Obama fight “to a head-to-head smackdown vote at the [Democratic] convention.” Instead, Clinton threw her support to Obama well before the convention. This word, which disproportionately described female voters, recalls TIME’s 2007 buzzword of the year: cougar, i.e., an older woman seeking younger men.
Here’s James Carville in one of his worst moments.
Here’s my response:
What if it were a cardboard cut out of Obama and a noose instead of a bottle of beer?
What if it were a cardboard cut out of Joe Lieberman and some one was putting say, a felt star on him, or a tatoo’d number on his arm instead of groping him or say they were doing the same thing and were wearing swastikas instead of Obama team tshirts?
What would your reaction be?
What would the reaction be of black civil rights leaders or leaders of the antisemitic leagues? Being plied with alcohol and groped is strong symbolism for women. We know that most men can out wrestle us and we are one moment of trust away from brutalization. Many fratboy antics are in fact sexual assault.
AND Symbols matter.
Would these two cardboard ‘fratboy antics’ I discribed above be taken as trivial or would they be considered hate crimes? After all, a small town in Louisiana became a symbol of lingering racism with the hanging of a noose in a tree by a couple of idiot high school boys. Why didn’t folks consdier that to be just highschool boy antics? What about the University of Kentucky students that had an effigy to hang of Barrack Obama who were treated way worse than those guys in California’ responsible for the hanging of Sarah Palin in effigy in a Halloween display? The guys in California only experienced a little neighborly humiliation. Not so the kids at at U of K.
And you know what? None of these citizens put words in the president’s mouth and yet there was tremendous outrage in each circumstance. In several cases, these were adolescent boys and not 27 year olds on the way to be a Director in the White House for a President of the United States. This is the jerk responsible for “Yes we Can” and “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for”. Obama rode those two banal slogans into Washington.
The only time symbolic brutality is sanctioned these days is if its victims are women, GLBT, and possibly the homeless mentally ill people. This has got to stop. A symbol is powerful. If this were not true, people would not be upset by swastikas, confederate flags, and nooses. We need to stay upset about this until this jerk is told to resign.
There is a general consensus out there in the Pumasphere that we need to regroup and continue to voice our issues. I have found that it is much easier, at this point, for me to list the issues that made me a Puma. It’s much harder for me to suggest a blueprint for the regrouping.
Our political process needs reform. Both parties have now won elections by perpetrating ugliness, fraud, and lies. Tactics used by Democrats this year were the source of much frustration and anger in the past when used by Republicans. How can you claim higher ground while stooping to conquer? We have to find a way to stop the parties from using the deep pockets of special interest constituencies to game an election. I’ve been amazed at how the same blogs that howled at Rovian tricks have borrowed some of the same plays and chortled in glee when these nasty strategies work in their favor.
One of the nasty strategies is the hyperpartisanship that allows candidate surrogates to demonize opponents and their supporters. This year’s Judas goat appeared to be women candidates and women in general. I was horrified at the level of misogyny given a pass by the DNC. I was even more horrified that much of this was done by women. I now have a list of women’s groups and women’s activists whom I no longer consider feminist. This includes NARAL, Emily’s List, Gloria Steinham, and many others. We cannot allow the parties to use us to beat up on women who disagree with us on an issue or so. The progress of women depends on not allowing any one to define the weakest ones in the herd so that the predators can weed them out for destruction. My guess is that women’s rights as well as GLBT rights will not achieve anything with the new congress and the new president. We will be used once more to place the usual suspects in power so they can enrich themselves and further legislation that has nothing to do with anything we value. Yes, I will be happy to see all those nasty, birth control phobic executive orders go away. I doubt we will see legislation, however, demanding insurance providers cover all forms of women’s reproductive care let alone laws enabling federal funding. So how much are marginal differences worth to us?
To further the Obama cause, we will see more Prop 8s. As long as it advances Obama’s status, they will support laws that winnow out the least powerful among us. We need to reframe what it means to be “for” us and “against” us. Lip service and proxy misspeaks should not be so easily forgiven or forgotten. We need to reframe them so that folks see them for what they are–nonsupportive of women’s rights and a disservice to our self-esteems and our causes.
So, can we reform either party? Will the Republicans give up their love of controlling women’s bodies while curbing corporations that run amok? I don’t think so. Now that the Democratic Party has learned they can fool enough of the people enough of the time, will they show some respect to those of us that loathe this new process and their new flunkies? Dream on. We can choose to be a segment that can select a few kings or we can try to coordinate with others to forge a new independent way that could possibly lead to a third party. I’m still drawn to the latter as a long term strategy. I think Bloomberg may take a run at the presidency in 4 years and he’ll need some voting blocs. We should keep all of our options open because I have no doubt we will be in exhile for some time.
It is likely for election reform we will have to work state by state. If we want more women’s voices in the process, we will have to run or put women candidates into office. The blogosphere continues to be our best weapon. We can connect, reframe the issues, demand reform where we can, and look for the best possible structure to regroup. I think that’s all I can offer up for debate at this point. I will say that I am willing to stick it out and work for it because the problem is at the very heart of all that is the promise of democracy.
NOTE: This is my contribution to the The Confluence’s The Way Forward Series: Pondering our future as P.U.M.A.s. If you follow this link and look in the upper right hand comment, you will find the ideas of others in the PUMA movement.
I’ve been watching some of the links showing up here at my blog and also at The Confluence. Something really STRANGE is going on. The Republicans are abuzz with praises for Pumas. I’m reading blog after blog on the right saying that PUMAS may very well save the country. Check out these links. It will make you a believer in the old saying that politics make strange bedfellows.
From Redstate: More on Why McCain should Win: The Puma Factor
From McCain Democrat Clinton Republican: People Want to know about Puma
From Death by a 1000 papercuts: Pumas the Democrats the Media Doesn’t Want to Talk About
To be real honest, I’ve had a feeling that folks have been reading many of our sites for some time. This includes the media. I also know that some of the things that have been discussed here on The Confluence and on other Puma sites have shown up a few days after the topic was completely dissected by the PUMA community. Several times we’ve been accused of passing right wing memes when I swear the points were discussed here prior to being tossed around on right wing blogs and even right wing radio shows.
Several stories broken here (including SimoFish’s posting of the Hillary Fundraiser where Hillary says she thinks that putting her name up for a roll call vote would help her supporters gain closure) and on No Quarter. ( Think ACORN and most of the ACORN threads including the Obama expenditure on “lights, etc” which turned out to be voter-registration related .) These were first discoverd in the PUMA world.
You may feel discouraged and think that we’re not making a difference, but you really shouldn’t. This should tell you that our voices are being heard and that our cause has been well-argued. Now is the time for us to finally decide where to put our final action: OUR VOTE. As for me, I’ve gone into a voting pack with SM77 who lives in the swing state of Florida. I will be voting for Cynthia McKinney for her, here in New Orleans, LA. Louisiana is a red state. She will be casting my vote for John McCain in Florida.
Please, PUMAs, stick to your guns and cast your vote in accordance with our principles. It is up to us to show the DNC that denying one-man one vote to TWO states, stacking primaries so that small states out count large swing sates, and allowing rampant caucus frauds are not behaviors we wish the democratic party to undertake. Let them know that we don’t appreciate them putting a candidate with no accomplishments and a race-baiting, misogynistic campaign to the front of the line. Vote your conscious! Vote like a PUMA! Even the Republicans know that we can make a difference!
Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife,
If once I be a widow, ever I be a wife!
‘Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me here a while,
My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile
The tedious day with sleep.
Sleep rock thy brain,
And never come mischance between us twain!
Madam, how like you this play?
The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
Hamlet Act 3, scene 2, 222–230
Puma is a protest movement. Our blogs outline our strategies. Our votes are our tactics. I’m not exactly sure how much clearer I can make this but it appears that we have to repeat these simple facts over and over. If we don’t, no one gets us.
The nature of our protest vote is that is exactly that a PROTEST. This means that our friends who can’t understand why we might vote for a candidate that doesn’t have a chance (McKinney or Nader) or a ticket that we may not agree with on many issues (McCain Palin) don’t understand what a PROTEST vote means. Protests voting means your vote is a protest. It simply doesn’t have to make sense to any one else.
I started thinking about this today due to a post by Masslib on Alegre’s blog and a response by Or what Vahalla said.
The premise of a protest vote is that it’s not issues-related.
What I meant to say, put more succintly
This also hit me in the face when I saw a response to my own posting “The No NO Sisterhood”. A post by Ben Kilpatrick assumed I voted all women during the democratic run-off in Louisiana just because I was woman who votes for women as a means to discriminate against men.
Just voting for women is the same as just voting for the black guy, or the republican guy, or or or
And it’s about as smart a move as all of those.
My vote was a protest against the treatment of women candidates this year. I did not vote for all women because as a woman, I was voting for ALL women. I voted for all women as a protest. I did not like the way Hillary was treated. I do not like the way Sarah Palin is being treated. I will not stand for Helena Morena being treated similarly either. Already, it is starting. A blog for the local New Orleans business newspaper picked up one quote from my two day postings concerning the second congressional race and all my comments about Ms. Moreno. You can read it here. The only line the blog picked up from me about Helena was that most folks here were calling her the “little white girl in the race” which I view as confusing folks on her mixed white/Latina heritage and belittling her status as a woman by calling her ‘girl’.
I’m still thinking about what kind of protest vote I will make this year when I step in the booth to vote for President. I know I will not vote for Obama. I will not vote for the issues, for once, because I am protesting how he got the nomination, I am protesting how the DNC actively and underhandedly promoted him over a much more qualified and able woman, and how he has been given a HUGE pass by the MSM. I know many of my PUMA friends will vote for McCain Palin, others will just skip the vote, others will still vote for Hillary, and some will vote for third party candidates.
We do not have to explain the ‘logic’ of our vote over and over and over again. It’s not about the issues (like Roe v. Wade), it’s not about the economy, and it’s certainly not about voting party lines. It’s a protest vote. As such, it only has to make sense to us!
I think we need to take some time and rethink why we view our votes as protests this year. This is especially true if you’re thinking of drinking that koolaid and falling prey to the logic of voting on issues at this point. Puma ceases to become a protest movement at that point. It’s effectiveness at supporting reform within the democratic party has no teeth at the point we stop protesting.
There is no such thing for PUMAs as ladies (or gentlemen) protesting too much at this point. Afterall, it is our democracy at stake.
(cross-posted at The Confluence)