Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

08 February 2008

Latinas & the election - Local Edition Part Two

A quick follow-up to yesterday's post about Anita Alvarez...My former State Senator, Iris Martinez, beat back her opponent and the Tribune is attributing her win and many other women's wins to the number of women who went out to vote for Hillary and just kept voting their gender all the way down.

We didn't take into account that Alvarez was the only Hispanic and only woman in the race. Of course we didn't. For years we've been writing and blabbing about the Hispanic vote as the great "sleeping giant" of American politics. We've sagely pointed out that places like Cicero, where the population has gone 80 percent Hispanic, still have white ethnic mayors and board majorities. Hispanics don't vote in proportion to their numbers, we said. Whenever will the giant wake up?...

Often this ethnic voting stuff cancels itself out. White ethnics tend to return the favor with big margins in their precincts for their candidates. But on Tuesday, it seemed that Democratic women of all backgrounds, many hellbent for Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket, proceeded to vote their gender all the way down. How else to explain the dumping of Illinois Appellate Court Judge Alan Greiman, with all his newspaper and bar association endorsements, for a circuit judge named Sharon Johnson-Coleman? Or plucky State Sen. Iris Martinez, who handily defended her seat against a guy backed by organization Democrats.

John McCarron has a tinge of something in his tone...I can't label it, but it's that "isn't it sexist to vote by gender?" tone, but he's clearly a supporter of Alvarez and happy that Martinez beat out the machine in her race. Which I think is one aspect of this primary race that many people don't get or don't want to get.

While there are clearly women out there who want a woman President, they also want a woman President who will represent their interests. If Condi Rice were the front-runner for the GOP, Ann Coulter & Phyllis Schafly might be in her corner and not Kim Gandy & Dolores Huerta. Why can't anyone see that difference? That yes, a woman president would be awesome, but not one who would work against my interests. I would gather that the same goes for racial politics in that someone looking for the first African-American President would vote for Barack and not Clarence Thomas.

Jill Filipovic says it best here:

Please, please stop using the term "identity politics" as a negative. "Identity politics" is a term adopted by conservatives (and moderate-to-right-leaning lefties) in an effort to insult the political action of women, people of color, the LGBT community, and other traditionally marginalized groups. It assumes that advocating for gender, racial or sexual orientation equality is about promoting particular "identities" as opposed to doing what white men have always done -- engaging in the political system, often in a self-interested way. If you're going to use the term "identity politics," go for it -- but own it as a good thing. We are all influenced by our identities; but since white, straight, Christian male is the default, it's only commented on when the rest of us voice our opinions.

Maybe we could petition for a straight woman ticket? Remember when we could do that in Illinois? Just one punch and wa-la! All Democrats. Yeah...just one touch on the screen or connected arrow ans wa-la all women. I jest of course, because we all know many women who don't represent very well.

Technorati tags: latinas, election, Iris Martinez


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