I'm starting to think that if John McCain had picked a female VP candidate who was slightly less wingnutty, he'd have picked up a slew of disenchanted Democratic women.
While making my volunteer phone calls for the Obama campaign today, I spoke with a woman who firmly said yes, she was supporting Obama in the general election, and yes, she'd definitely vote. When I followed up by asking if she might be interested in volunteering with the campaign, she just as firmly said, "Definitely not! I was a Hillary supporter and it just about broke my heart. I've been waiting to vote for a woman my whole life."
I made a few sympathetic noises about feeling the same way since sixth grade and appreciating Clinton's candidacy. (I left out the fact that in sixth grade, *I* wanted to be that woman running for the presidency. My, how things change.)
This unleashed a torrent of words that came so fast I may be misquoting, but the gist was: "Oh, when Sarah Palin was announced, I thought YES! I wanted to vote for her so bad. I just wanted to vote for a woman." But then she looked into Palin's positions and couldn't quite stomach them, being a good Democrat and feminist.
Two things I took away from this: One, while we might wish Obama were still running against John McCain, de facto he's running against Palin. She's getting roughly three times as many Google hits as McCain. At McCain rallies this week in Cedar Rapids and Youngstown, audience members began streaming out during McCain's speech; Palin had already spoken and they'd gotten what they came for.
Even the candidate herself may have started to believe she's heading the ticket, if this clip is any indication (via the HuffPost):
The second thing I learned from my short chat with one of Hillary's mourners is that there really are two basically different conceptions of feminism afoot in this land, and this is what the McCain campaign failed to exploit.
I think many self-identified feminists still see working for women's advancement as the purpose of feminism. That's obviously very central to it, but to my mind that can't be the whole story. I like bell hooks' definition of feminism as a struggle against sexism. If you take that as your standard, it's immediately evident that women can uphold sexism, too, and you don't have any obligation to support them. It's equally clear that men can be excellent allies. And it's glaringly obvious that no feminist should support a wingnut, no matter how many X chromosomes said wingnut might carry.