Dear President Obama: You can only trot out the same show pony so many times before we start to wonder if you have ANYTHING else in your stable.

Look, I get that women in this country - at least, ones who like their rights - are pretty much up shit creek when it comes to voting options in major elections.  We either vote for the party that actively hates us, or the one that treats us like a reliable but disposable guaranteed vote, patronized in election years and used as a bargaining chip in between times.  So I understand that you're not going to try very hard to make us feel super welcome, because you just don't have to, and I'm sure you're right when you say it's much more important to focus on the coveted "independent" vote.  (Lol, no, I'm not.)

But if you're going to keep tossing out crumbs from time to time to make it look like you're paying attention, could please at least change out the bread in the crumbs bag every now and again?

Because yes, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was good and important and all that (although I've heard it was already basically in the bag before you took office, for all that you are perpetually taking credit for it).  But for fuck's sake, you have made it the centerpiece of EVERY. SINGLE. "WOMEN-FOCUSED". CAMPAIGN EFFORT. FOR. THE. PAST. THREE. YEARS.

And here it is again:
A screencap of President Obama's Facebook page, showing a status update that links to a video titled "President Obama on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act"; text accompanying it reads ""Policies that help women are policies that help our families - and our economy - grow stronger." President Obama reiterates a message from his State of the Union address: Equal work deserves equal pay."
When you push the same stale "victory" at us over and over again for three years, it sort of lends itself to the impression that you really don't have anything else to offer.  (As indeed you don't.)  You could have mentioned this past year's War on Women and how shameful the unrelenting onslaught of attacks on a Constitutionally-protected right are.  You could have talked about how your administration has been aggressively using the FACE Act to prosecute anti-abortion protesters who interfere in people's access to clinics.  You could have commented on your administration standing firm on the requirement that employers who provide health insurance include contraceptive coverage, even in the face of pressure from religious figures like the USCCB.  And yet you chose, yet a-fucking-gain, to parade the LLFPA as your token commitment to women.


It's not just that I'm sick of hearing about it, although I am.  I am genuinely wondering why you seem to think that fair pay is the ONLY women's issue worth mentioning, ever?

I am also more than a little annoyed at the defensive framing of the commentary on it - the emphasis on "it helps our families and especially the economy!" - as if simply doing the right thing to treat women fairly under the law isn't its own justification, isn't enough, but must be For The Families and For The Economy.  I also take issue with referring to it as "helping".  "Helping" implies optional, implies choosing to be nice to someone out of the goodness of your heart.  Fair pay laws are not "help", they're fucking justice.  They are an attempt to enforce a minimum standard of fairness and basic equality.  I realize that doesn't make as good a sound bite, but the paternalistic attitude of "We're helping women, because it helps their families, and because The Economy" is really starting to grate on my nerves.

I talked, not too long ago, about how token crumbs actually work to highlight the inadequacy of said crumbs, rather than being a true motivator of loyalty and positive regard.  At this point, trotting out the LLFPA show pony functions the same way.  It simply shows how little you are interested in either taking strong action to support this constituency, or even pointing out the other small ways in which you have actually done so, and by doing so, demonstrates just how little regard your administration/the Democratic establishment has for women.

We may have nowhere else to go, practically speaking.  But the more you distance yourselves from us on the assumption that having nowhere else to go means we'll stay with you, the more you risk losing us anyway.  We may not vote for your opponents - but many of us won't be particularly motivated to get off our collective ass and vote for you, either.

Patronize us at your own risk, Obama Administration.  You may find one of your most stalwart beams crumbling under you just when you need it most, if you keep this up.


Sonneillon said...

Yeah, I pointed this out on facebook when that message came up.  It's so incredibly patronizing, too, as if the administration believes we're really that stupid.  It's like how I talk to my four-year-old.  "Jaaaaaake, remember how you had a piece of candy already today?  So you KNOW you can't have another piece unless you eat a good dinner."  Except I'm a fucking adult and it pisses me off to be condescended to.

Jadelyn said...

Perhaps it should be part of campaign-manager training materials: "Do not speak to the electorate as if their age is still in single digits.  They don't like it."

CaitieCat said...

Y'know, one of the biggest obstacles to any form of social progress in the US is the absurdity of a two-party system that enforces its two-party-ness with every possible measure.  There's no other industrialized democracy that does this; in fact, in most other IDs, new parties are coming into being on a somewhat regular basis, meaning that there is a real possibility to register protest votes. 

If you want to see an interesting fantasy presentation of what that can mean, check out the UK series "The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard", about a woman who leads a woman-centred party to an unexpected landslide victory in protest against the mainstream parties. 

Jadelyn said...

And of course, it also ties into the flow of corporate money - it takes money to get elected, lots of it, and major financers never donate to third parties (why would they, when they've got both parties firmly in their pockets?).  Out of curiosity, how are elections up in the snowy north financed?  I don't ever remember hearing much about y'all's campaign finance system, but I can't imagine it's anywhere near as fucked as ours is down here.

I will have to look that series up, too, thanks for the rec!

CaitieCat said...

Well, it's much, much better, I think.  First:

Restrictions regarding the spending of money by election participants,
such as candidates and political parties, constitute a key element of
Canada’s campaign finance rules. In this context, Canada differs
significantly from other jurisdictions, such as the United States.
Whereas the US approach to campaign finance focuses on limiting the
amount of money individuals and groups can contribute to candidates and
political parties, historically, the Canadian approach has been to limit
the amount these political entities can spend.

So basically, we don't focus on how much any one entity can give (though there are rules about that), so much as a limit on what one party can spend. 

And, the crucial bit, the fourth item under this list of who can donate what:

1. Only Canadian citizens and permanent residents may make
contributions to registered parties, registered electoral district
associations, leadership and nomination contestants of registered
parties, and all candidates.2. Individual contributions to these political participants are limited to a maximum of $1,000 annually (adjusted for inflation).3. Individuals may also make contributions that do not exceed $1,000 (adjusted for inflation) in total per contest
to the leadership contestants of a registered political party. This is
an aggregate cap applying to all the contributions given by one
individual to all leadership contestants in the same leadership contest.4. Corporations, trade unions, and other unincorporated associations
are prohibited from making contributions to registered parties,
registered electoral district associations, leadership and nomination
contestants of registered parties, and all candidates.

Our top four parties, nationally, had a total $20 million spending limit for the whole campaign each. 

Now remember that we're basically the same size as Cali in population, but then we have the disadvantage of having  that population be widely-dispersed, and our head-of-government election is the same as our legislative branch election: the party with the most seats wins and forms a government, and the leader of that party beomes PM - there's no separate election for the executive branch, because technically that's the Queen, although in practice it's the PM.

Also, our election period is limited to six weeks, total, from calling the election (we don't have fixed dates) until the day of voting.   It's really all very different, and most of the other IDs are a lot more like us than you, in all of the above.

Jadelyn said...



Please stop making me want to move to Canada!!  

In all seriousness, A: thank you for the information, I really appreciate it, and B: I like the focus on limiting spending instead of just limiting contributions.  Also a six-week election sounds like heaven, considering we've been having election season for like four freaking months now down here, and the election is still ten months off.  >.<

CaitieCat said...

I think US culture has, now and forever, enshrined elections as the most important national theatre there is, and it honestly seems from the outside as if you're in more or less perpetual election mode one way or the other - with major elections every two years (all of the House, one-third of the Senate, and half of a President), and the primaries in between one of those pairs...it feels like it never stops.  Our provincial systems have been moving toward a four-year fixed-date setup, and I'm really wary of it, because it seems to me the first step toward an Americanization of our currently short campaigns, and while I have no knee-jerk anti-US response as do some of my compatriots, I don't think this particular feature is one I'd choose to import. 

Jadelyn said...

Not to mention local elections, which are usually on off-years - our mayoral, city council, and school board elections were fall of 2011, for example.  So yeah, we're pretty much all elections, all the time, such that the posturing never manages to stop long enough to, y'know, actually fucking govern anything.  I truly hope y'all don't end up stuck with it like we are.  


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