Saturday, January 12, 2019

Of Allies and Friends

Thanks to this never-ending government shutdown, the Hub and I went out on a child-free date to the movies recently. I cannot say when we last did that, but clearly it had been so long ago that I forgot that he is typically lying when he claims not to want any popcorn. Anyway, we saw Vice, the movie about Dick Cheney and it was quite interesting. But since I don't do movie reviews, let's move along to the reason why this movie inspired me to write, which was its portrayal of the women in Dick Cheney's orbit.

It wasn't much of a stretch to believe the depiction of Mrs. Lynne Cheney as a Lady Macbeth-styled puppeteer, nor that hard to see her eldest daughter Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) as her eager heiress apparent (ironic, but not unbelievable). Conservative women make no apologies for their beliefs or political leanings, with very few exceptions even for family. So my curiosity was piqued by the sympathetic treatment of younger daughter, Mary Cheney who is a lesbian. For some reason, I made the foolhardy assumption that she might represent some latent humanity in the Cheney family bloodline...but alas, I was wrong. My superficial research revealed Mary to be no champion of political moderation, just accommodation for her civil rights. She's cut from the same conservative cloth as the other Lady Cheneys.

That same mistake in judgment describes my reaction to the status update a friend posted last week that posited the key to winning the White House in 2020 was to cultivate moderate Republican women. She then dared folks to challenge that assertion, which I did with my usual points about it being the 21st Century version of the Lost Cause. My friend countered with arguments about coastal elitism and common ground, and again, I responded with a more detailed reiteration of my Lost Cause theorem. Then I let it go because, well, we're friends and even though she was absolutely WRONG, there was no point in taking it personally (and please, if you happen to read this, it still isn't personal, Sis).

But, you're still wrong. This idea that there are enough moderate GOP women who can be wooed to vote against the current White House occupant is both provocative and hopeful, but in my experience, about as probable as impeachment. It could happen. It should happen. But in all seriousness, it won't happen which is why our focus is aptly aimed at the nomination process for a viable challenger. I have no opinion on the prospects of any of the likely contenders because I am a true believer in the vetting process. The entire point of a primary is to have all of the options spread out for us to review qualifications, evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, and then decide who gets our vote.

But that is not a choice that should be made to appease a voting bloc that has demonstrated time and time again that they are unreliable.

There are certain assumptions that come to mind when I try to conjure up an ideal GOP moderate woman, even as I am skeptical that such a voter still exists in this hyper-partisan world. I would like to believe that such a woman chose not to vote in the 2016 election after all of the pussy-grabbing talk, or that she voted for Gary Johnson. I would like to believe that such a woman is the nice lady who works at the gift shop at the Shrine or perhaps she is the owner of a small business like the plumbing contractor we hired recently. I want to believe that those classmates who long ago moved from the suburbs to the exurbs could possibly be swayed to vote for someone who did not insult Gold Star military families, rile up crowds with boogey man nightmares about immigrants, or use the word disgraceful to describe everything but his own behavior.

But I know better. I know that these women vote their economic interests and aspirations above everything else. These women vote for the protection of their status in society. They will extol the virtues of standing by their men, and will eagerly lead the charge. That when faced with the choice to vote for another like-minded woman over a man, they will choose the man because they trust his judgment. They don't identify as feminists even though they benefit from affirmative action, family leave, and choice in reproductive health care. But they will decry activism like #metoo as counter-intuitive and The Women's March as destructive to families. They will complain that diversity efforts unfairly limit the opportunities for their sons and brothers. They will love their brown grandchildren, nieces, and nephews as much as they love their pedigreed pets. They will openly question what type of woman wants to run an empire while they dominate local school boards, admire and emulate Martha Stewart, and take their daughters to see Taylor Swift.

THESE WOMEN ARE NOT OUR ALLIES. They may be our co-workers and neighbors and maybe even someone we might call a friend, but they are not allies that we can trust when it comes to dismantling inequality. Or reclaiming our country from a lunatic. Or standing up for other women.

In popular culture, these woman are represented by the likes of Edith Bunker, Jill Taylor, Debra Barone, Lilith Sternin Crane, and Roseanne Connor. We all love Edith Bunker and laud her friendships with Louise Jefferson and Beverly LaSalle as proof of her open-mindedness despite the fact that she was married to Archie. Because Jill Taylor tolerates the Toolman's misogynist persona and Debra Barone tries to get along with her in-laws, we sympathize. But Lilith will always defend her son Frederick, even when he starts to sound and dress like Tucker Carlson. And we already know what happens to Roseanne and why she voted the way she did in 2016.

BECAUSE (and yes, I am actually shouting this) THESE WOMEN ARE NOT ALLIES! Allies make a big point of knitting pussy hats and wearing safety pins and black dresses to the Golden Globes and while we eye-roll all of that as superficial, at least those are real acts. Allies engage in social media activism and then follow up with donations to causes like bail reform and support for migrant children. Allies hit the campaign trail for Stacey Abrams. Allies intervene, like when those two Black men were getting arrested at Starbucks, and then support Starbucks' decision to close for diversity training. Allies apologize when they mess up and don't consider that a weakness.

ALLIES SHOW UP FOR OTHERS, so you cannot expect a woman who counters your Black Lives Matter statement with All Lives Matter to empathize. Moderate GOP women did not show up for Claire McCaskill or Heidi Heitkamp, moderate Democrats from red states who campaigned aggressively for their votes. How many moderate GOP women in Alabama almost allowed Roy Moore to become their Senator? Hell, they didn't show up to keep Mia Love in Congress, but somehow they sent Mitt Romney to the Senate from the same state.

Because at the end of the day, Mary Cheney still loves her family and will vote accordingly. Jill Taylor might have been an activist in her youth, but she has three grown sons. Debra Barone has twin sons probably just out of college. Why should those women trust Christine Blasey Ford's account of a drunken teenage romp if she didn't get raped and didn't press charges? So why should we trust them...ever?

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