Ready for Hillary? Really?

From Truth Out:

By Pierre Guerlain
Sunday, 17 November 2013

Recently Nancy Fraser wrote an interesting article titled “How feminism became capitalism’s handmaiden – and how to reclaim it.” Her first paragraph stated the core idea: “As a feminist, I’ve always assumed that by fighting to emancipate women I was building a better world – more egalitarian, just and free. But lately I’ve begun to worry that ideals pioneered by feminists are serving quite different ends. I worry, specifically, that our critique of sexism is now supplying the justification for new forms of inequality and exploitation.”

Of course, it is quite common, not to say the rule, for ideas to be subverted or inverted and ideologies to change their meaning when invoked by different political groups. The young libertarian socialist Marx was claimed by the ugly Stalinist and Maoist régimes; Orwell is treated as a hero by the most reactionary thinkers like the neocons, and feminism was kidnapped by the Bush administration to justify its wars of choice.

Nancy Fraser’s key point applies now with the gearing up for the US presidential election in 2016. Feminism is mobilized by Hillary Clinton’s supporters to sell her presidential bid, but the key point is this: Would a Clinton presidency improve the lot of women in the United States and abroad, and would Clinton be a progressive president?

Because the United States, in spite of its shutdown follies and NSA surveillance bungling, remains the pivot of the world system, American presidential elections are of global interest. So even three years before the next presidential election, global media have started following the budding campaign. Although Clinton did fight for some feminist ideals in her youth, she famously declared she was not going to bake cookies while her husband ran for president before baking those cookies and kowtowing to the rules of the political game. In the Democratic primaries of 2008, Clinton ran against Obama as a war hawk and appealed to the right of the Democratic Party, which had itself already moved to the right of Eisenhower on many fronts. Her feminism was a thing of the past – or reduced to symbolic gestures merely.

Her web site “Ready for Hilary” is a sign that she has prepared the campaign in a thorough fashion. Already many famous people are praising her and calling for a woman to be elected president. This is predicated on the idea that a woman president would be a good sign for feminism and American women in general. The key question, though, is which woman and mostly which political platform – for, as everyone knows, any woman cannot be an improvement on past presidents (all men so far). Imagine a president Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann: Would feminism get a boost? Clearly the gender of candidates cannot be a valid reason to vote for or against them.

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