I have jury duty today. I approve of the concept, but it strikes me as odd how one line in our constitution - "a jury of his peers" - has led to this spectacle. The informational video says that they mail out 5,600 jury summons a week. Each summons has a bar code, which they scan when you present yourself at the jury office, after which they wave you into an enormous room where videos are playing explaining the duties of jurors. Justice will have been served (announced the video at the end). Really?! Wow! The man sitting next to me and I rolled our eyes in unison. I'm not against the concept of a jury - but I think justice is a much more difficult mistress. What happens in the courtroom is only a small piece of it - just as important is who gets to that courtroom and why, what they're charged with and why, where they grew up, what kind of schools they had, what kind of job opportunities they had, and what kinds of schools and job opportunities were had by the boxful of jurors... Justice is more elusive than 12 "peers" listening to the facts of the case and pronouncing judgment.
I know I've been absent from this blog for a while. I couldn't post in Dubai, as I said, and then things pile up and there's too much to say so I say nothing at all. I'm home. Life has recommenced. I am missing work right now, and anxious about that fact - the only reason I have my computer here is so that I can hopefully get some work done. It's nice to be home, even though vacation was wonderful and I again miss all those I briefly did not miss.
I've been pretty wrapped up in the election and election coverage, even though the media drives me crazy and probably the best thing to do would be to disengage. I'm going to become a precinct captain for Obama, since at this point it is clear that California will indeed matter, very much.
Two points on the election I want to discuss:
1. The media drives me crazy because they try to reinvent the wheel every day. Iowa was big and exciting, but declaring Obama the frontrunner and Clinton's campaign - which has been built up for months, for a whole year practically - dead in one night was ridiculous and obviously premature. Now anointing Clinton's victory in New Hampshire a "comeback" is just as silly. It was always a two-person race (at least). There are way too many media pundits desperate to have something to say, so they make up these stories that have very little, if anything, to do with reality.
2. I read Gloria Steinem’s editorial in the New York Times yesterday about how women have it harder than black men (in the race for public office anyway) and how the media has unfairly attacked Hilary. I think she has good points, namely that gender is an incredibly strong barrier, one that does not get enough attention (or the wrong kind of attention) and that the media has used a lot of misogynistic language in its portrayal of Hilary. I strongly disagree, however, with her conclusion – that the bias exhibited by some is a reason to vote for Hilary, and that by supporting Obama, I and other young women are betraying or taking for granted what second wave feminists did for all of us.
I consider myself a proud feminist. I am very sensitive to gender stereotypes and prejudices. But I am also a human being. I am a woman but this is not all I am. I think that is what second wave feminists were fighting for: the right to make decisions on an equal footing with men. The right not to be defined by my gender.
There are many reasons I am supporting Obama. I believe he is a compromiser in the best way, in that he does not compromise his core values, but he is willing to listen to people who disagree with him and learn from them. For illustration: at a rally yesterday in New Hampshire, there were anti-abortion protestors. The crowd started booing them down, and he quieted his own supporters, pointing out that this is exactly the problem: we don’t listen to each other. The protesters were escorted from the building (it wasn't the moment for a debate) but they weren't heckled along the way.
From what I’ve seen, Clinton is the other kind of compromiser (and I think Bill Clinton was too): the kind that compromises to get ahead.
I also think Obama has a much better chance of winning the general election, which, let’s face it, is important. In the last debate, Clinton tried to equate Obama with Bush, by saying he was doing well because he was “likable.” Not only do I think this is a ridiculous comparison (Bush is likable in that people felt they could sit down and have a beer with him, Obama is likable in that he is well-spoken and inspiring), but let us not forget that Bush won the last two elections against politicians with a great deal of experience who came across as awkward, stiff, and ultimately… unlikable. The Democrats have proven their ability to pick losing candidates using Hilary Clinton’s formula for success. Why not pick someone who appeals across party lines? Why not pick someone who excites people? Why not pick someone without the baggage of the Clinton years, who is respected and liked by a lot of Republicans and Independents, rather than hated and vilified? Why not pick someone who can win?
Mostly, I support Obama because I see how he inspires people, especially people of my generation - cynical youth, constantly berated by their elders for trying to work within the system instead of rebelling against it. This is the candidate we have been waiting for, this is the one we will take to the streets for - why should we now be berated for that too? Because our candidate is not the candidate our parents might choose? It's funny that people like Gloria Steinem, who set themselves up as anti-establishment, should so buy into the establishment, and tell young women they're blind if they don't follow.
I want to see a female president. The thing is - I believe it will happen in my lifetime. In fact, I believe it will happen in the not-too-distant future. Which is why I am making my choice based on all the things that make me an intelligent human being, and not panic that this might be my only chance to see a woman in the White House. That kind of attitude is selling women short.
Update: Dismissed from jury duty! Back to work.
And one more thing: I don't have cable, so my news coverage is the NYT and NPR - that's what I was citing when I said that the news coverage of Clinton that annoyed me. After reading this interesting article, I'm wondering whether I missed the stuff that would really have pissed me off (on the cable news channels). Anyway, I recommend and get behind this article (the same one - written by a young woman for Salon, talking about how she's not a Clinton supporter but still sees the misogyny in the news coverage).