Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

An Authentic Woman for U.S. Politics

Mark Lance’s political characterization of Hillary Clinton (“Hill’s Far From Extreme, Even if She’s a Woman,” THE HOYA, Sept. 5, 2008, A3) was accurate, but as a professor who lauds the openness of progressive thought, he seems truly closed to conservative sentiment.

Lance makes a classic liberal mistake in his piece: He searches for a political rationale behind conservative contempt for Hillary; when he finds none, he explains away conservative sentiment in the familiar liberal narrative of deep-seated bigotry, “In a word: sexism.”

Not only is his conclusion as equally close-minded as those of the right-wing talk radio hosts he mocks early in his piece, it illuminates his intellectual disconnect from his “anthropological” specimen. The choice of “anthropological” in Lance’s opening sentence confirms his disconnect from those who does not believe liberal progressivism to be the highest form of intellectual enlightenment.

While his diction provides ample bait for anyone looking to perpetuate an unsophisticated right-left dialog, I would prefer to offer Professor Lance a possible explanation behind conservative disdain for Hillary. An understanding of conservative sentiment will further reveal why so many on the right are drawn to Palin.

As Professor Lance addresses in his piece, Hillary the Feminist is quite an interesting political creation. Hillary’s feminist allegiance is largely based on a rejection of the misogynistic portrayal of Hillary by some on the right: “If they say she’s a Commie Socialist, we must be supporting genuinely progressive ideals by voting for her.”

Politically, however, Hillary defines herself as a conventional masculine politician. Her primary campaign focused on her masculine strength and readiness to rule by contrasting her with what her campaign labeled as a weak and unready junior senator from Illinois.

So while she gladly welcomes the support of female voters, her political career has always defined itself through the masculine paradigm of American politics.

Hillary has succeeded in this model by offering a continuation of the Bill Clinton legacy to Democratic voters. This has led many on the right to dislike what they see as a disingenuous ersatz candidate: A woman who has succeeded not on her own merit and ideas but by tapping into her husband’s successful political machine.

While right-wing talk radio hosts might use misogynistic language when they speak of Hillary, it is over-simplistic and inaccurate to reduce conservative sentiment to simple bigotry. These radio hosts certainly don’t represent the feelings of the majority of Republican voters just as the Michael Moores of the left don’t represent all Democrats.

oreover, John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate and the excitement among many conservatives that she has brought to the ticket illuminate the fault lines in Lance’s conclusion that it’s all about sexism. On the contrary, many on the right are ecstatic about having the first female on the Republican ticket.

Professor Lance comes across as particularly close-minded when he asserts that there are “virtually no authentically feminist voices . allowed in either party.” While Hillary may not speak to his version of authentic feminism, McCain has included what conservatives deem “authentic” in picking Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Palin offers America a new type of female politician: one who emphasizes her maternal character and shows that masculine strength is not the only facet of effective leadership. She thus brings a powerful yet feminine balance to McCain’s masculine executive strength.

In picking this new type of female politician, the GOP has forced America to rethink the current paradigm of feminist politics.

Conservative female support for Palin further highlights the failure of liberal feminism to identify with the concerns of many women in America. So while Hillary supporters might still pull the lever for Obama this fall, they now have the choice for at least one authentic female voice come November.

Charlie Beller is a sophomore in the College and a member of Georgetown Students for McCain.

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