Wednesday, October 17, 2012

One more thought about Mitt's binders

Let me offer a quick caveat that Mitt Romney's story about having "binders full of women" to fill out his cabinet might actually be hogwash. And if folks want to attack Romney for telling a tall tale, be my guest. I get it.

But I think there's another criticism of Romney and his binders that's not quite right. And it's this: "He should already have known qualified women to fill out his cabinet."

And yes, he should've. But he didn't. So what should've happened then? Should he have ignored the binders completely and filled out his administration with men entirely because he hadn't previously cultivated those relationships?

I don't think so.

The reason liberals like me favor cultivating diversity, and even in using forms affirmative action to get there, is not because we believe in replacing merit with diversity, but because we believe that merit isn't limited to white guys—that it can and should be cultivated throughout the spectrum of humanity. One of the ways such merit (or lack thereof) has been traditionally cultivated has been through "the old boys network." Men knew other men, socialized with them, and brought them along when they got better jobs. It was like Twitter, only in person and generally larded up with privilege.

Romney came up through a sector of the economy that was particularly enmeshed in the "old boys network" way of doing things. And when he was governor, it appears he attempted to do something differently.

Now: Romney says he sought the binders full of women. Other participants say the binders were pushed to him, in an effort to diversify his administration. In either telling, the grip of the "old boys network" was loosened—maybe only slightly, and with real room for improvement, but loosened nonetheless. That's a good thing! Good enough? No.

I'm not going to argue that Romney is a feminist hero, or that he's the candidate that folks concerned with women's issues will want to support. He's not. But part of cultivating diversity—and merit—is breaking the grip of the old boys network. Sometimes, for the Mitt Romneys of the world, that effort will start with a binder instead of a lifetime of active cultivation. That's less satisfying, perhaps, and less pleasing to our sensibilities, but it lays important groundwork—groundwork that will make such binders less needed for future generations of women workers.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A quick note about tribalism, politics, and Tucker Carlson

Since I started opining about politics four years ago, I've worked hard not to be a mindless hack. For me, that's meant trying to adhere to a few principles, and to analyze accordingly: If that meant Democrats ended up on the wrong side of the analysis, fine. If (less frequently) Republicans ended up on the right side, well, that was OK too. The important thing was to eschew tribalism and be intellectually honest. And if a few liberal friends rolled their eyes at me when I struggled with whether Barack Obama deserved my vote, I could live with that.

Then Tuesday happened.

And then George Will explained that the only reason the nation might re-elect Obama is race: We don't want a black man not to succeed. As though the president hadn't actually lost electoral support because of his skin tone.  It was amazingly patronizing, and it had the side benefit of letting Will avoid analyzing other reasons the electorate might not want to see Republicans in the White House, or confronting the idea that George W. Bush really damaged the GOP brand that badly.

And then, on Facebook, I witnessed an acquaintance muse that the only reason Obama is still alive is because (presumably politically correct?) would-be assassins didn't want to be responsible for killing the nation's first black president. (Those comments, thankfully, were later deleted.) As though President Obama doesn't actually face an unprecedented number of personal threats each day.  As though white guilt is the only force behind Obama's success.

And then, on Twitter, The Daily Caller, and Fox News, I watched the Republican establishment try to characterize a five-year-old speech by President Obama as somehow showing his "real," anti-white racism. (It didn't.) We watched anchors on Fox News tried to assess the president's "authentic" accent, as though he'd been shucking-and-jiving in front of a black audience. We watched, basically, as the GOP tried again to scare white voters with a niggerized cariacature of the president.

And, when asked what evidence for that cariacature was contained in the president's actual, four-year record of governance, conservatives were mostly silent. Except to warn we'd find out about the "real" Obama in his second term.

And I gained clarity.

There are good reasons to criticize President Obama. There are good, conservative reasons to criticize President Obama--if you really believe in limited government, ending or reducing the entitlement state, in lower taxes, there are good, principled reasons to oppose the president.

But the GOP establishment isn't betting on those reasons to carry the day. They're hoping to terrorize voters with trumped-up racial fearmongering.

And I don't want them to win.

I don't want people who buy this stuff to be on the winning side. I don't want people who sell this stuff to be on the winning side. I don't want Hannity and Carlson or any of the Breitbart crew to taste the champagne on on election night. I want them to lose, I want them to lose badly, I want them to be humiliated, because as bad as the last decade has been in this country, it's worse yet if a final, desperate roll of the Southern Strategy dice proves successful.

I don't like this side of myself. I want to be too rational to give into base tribalism. But more than that, I don't want them to win. So thanks, Tucker. Thanks, Hannity. Thanks, Drudge. You've given me clarity I didn't have before. I unambiguously want President Obama to win re-election. We'll deal with the fallout from that later. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

About that Drudge/Fox News video of Obama airing tonight

I'm glad that Republicans are very, very against "race hustling," or I'd be very concerned about tonight's Fox News video of the president speaking at Hampton University in 2007.

I'm very glad that George Will has explained that the only reason somebody would vote for Obama is because they don't want to oppose a black president.

I'm glad that Republicans have found old YouTube videos to prove the president's secret anti-whitey racism, because finding evidence of it in his actual governance is hard!

I'm glad that actual black people don't suffer the effects of racism in 21st century America, but I'm sad that the only victims of racism these days are white conservatives. I hope someday, when they're ready and educate themselves a little more, they can rise up and fight that oppression. But even so, they should really be grateful to be Americans anyway!

And hey, I'm glad this stuff happens when I'm agonizing over whether or note to vote for Obama. Because these events really do help clarify my decision.