Under the Sun
Casting a vote is largely a matter of the heart
Barack Obama doesn't much like soda, preferring water to wet his whistle when his whistle needs wetting. He doesn't care for potato chips flavored with the sharpness of vinegar and salt.
Preferred snacks include trail mix and pistachios. For cheeseburgers, "cheddar is the cheese of choice," according to his personal aide.
We have much in common.
John McCain obviously likes Sedona since that's where his Arizona "ranch" is (what's with Republicans and their pseudo-ranches anyway?) and though the touristy town exudes an oh-wow, crystal-gazing, spiritual-vortex aura, climate and red-rock beauty make up for it. But unless he, too, shuns sickly sweet carbonated beverages, I'm guessing we have few shared tastes and far more disparate experiences.
On the basis of comparable experiences, Hillary Clinton ought to be my gal, if I'm allowed to use a post-feminist term. We are of the same age and a generation of women that moved outside the boundaries of educational and professional expectations even as many of us rejected the necessity of an equal rights amendment because the U.S. Constitution already delivered guarantees purely to citizens -- without consideration of gender.
It cannot be denied that Clinton has encountered sexism, the fear of females, fear of the unknown and the unfamiliar that sometimes translates into animosity. Yet, that cannot be made the only or even the overwhelming reason her candidacy has foundered.
When she, her surrogates and supporters claim gender bias, it cheapens her muscular effort. Using it as an excuse builds higher fencelines women following in her trail will have to leap. If a nationally recognized, intelligent senator with so much cash and power backing her cannot smash the thickest glass ceiling in politics, who will? Yes, sexism exists, and if she can't convince voters to discount gender, who can?
Clinton's candidacy cannot be divorced from her husband's career and as much as she initially kept him in the shadows, he remained on stage, unable to be just part of the scenery. And when it became necessary, she put him to use, cracking the facade of being her own woman.
Her candidacy also cannot be divorced from her rival, a man who himself began writing a prologue to history, tearing into her playbook by introducing into the campaign another ism.
Pundits awed by Clinton's attraction of white male voters are being, shall we say, unmindful of who her Democratic opponent is, as if female was the key factor rather than another kind of fear and discomfort.
Which brings us back to cheese. Besides positions on issues, which voters like to say matters most, a candidate's appeal is largely visceral. With the acknowledgment that promises in the splintered political realm are hard to fulfill, that a sense of character can be deftly contrived to hide deep flaws and lack of substance, voters tend to pick a person with whom they are most comfortable, whom they see as part of their tribe.
Choice shouldn't stand on cheese alone, but voting often is a matter of the heart, of the gut, of the soul.
has been on the staff of the Star-Bulletin since 1976. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org