Thursday, June 5, 2008

Juan Gonzalez on the PR primary

Juan Gonzalez's excellent analysis of the situation down on the Island.

New York Daily News
Poor turnout in Puerto Rico primaries reflects island's ambivalence
Monday, June 2nd 2008, 4:00 AM

CAYEY, Puerto Rico - At the Miguel Melendez Muñoz High School in this mountain town near Puerto Rico's southern coast, a mere 150 of some 3,000 registered voters had shown up by 11 a.m.
Most were elderly, and more than a few had spent years living afuera (outside), the term Puerto Ricans use to refer to life in the U.S.

"I was in the South Bronx for 18 years," said Rosario Rodriguez Vazquez. "Even ran for Democratic committeeman there, so I never miss an election, and I'm with Hillary all the way."

Clinton registered an even bigger landslide win over Barack Obama here than preelection polls had predicted.
But there's another strong message that Puerto Rico's electorate sent to Washington. Despite all the attention and furor the Democratic presidential campaign has stirred in the 50 states, less than 15% of Puerto Rico's registered voters turned out.
Such numbers reveal the deep ambivalence many Puerto Ricans feel about their political relationship with the U.S. How else can you explain that close to 10,000 independence supporters marched noisily through Old San Juan yesterday calling for a boycott of the entire primary?

The small yet influential movement kept labeling the primary a colonial charade, then surprised everyone with the biggest political rally of the entire campaign.

You need look no further than New York's own Jose Rivera, Bronx assemblyman and chairman of the Bronx Democratic Party, to see how politically schizophrenic some Puerto Ricans have become.

All day Saturday, Rivera campaigned for Clinton. He rode with her in the same flatbed truck for eight grueling hours, urging Puerto Ricans to turn out to the polls. Then yesterday morning, he joined the massive protest against the primary.
"I don't see a contradiction," Rivera told me. "This whole contest between Hillary and Obama has forced everyone in the U.S. to pay attention to the issue of Puerto Rico's status. Maybe now it will finally get resolved."

Rivera means the more-than-century-old debate that dominates island politics but U.S. politicians continue to ignore: whether Puerto Rico will become the 51st state, an independent nation or remain in some other form of association with the U.S.
Rivera noted that Clinton received her only standing ovation Saturday night from some 6,000 attending a church service in Hato Rey when she pledged to resolve the island's status during her first White House term.

Obama has made similar promises. But he spent only a day here, missing an opportunity to shore up his poor support among Hispanics, which could hurt him in November. John McCain will make an even bigger push to win Latino votes than President Bush did four years ago.

Clinton won her landslide because at least she paid Puerto Ricans some attention.

HRC still won't concede.......

I'm trying really hard to identify with HRC. I think of myself as an empathetic person. But maybe it's because I shut down when I regard someone else as narcissistic and therefore incapable of empathy for others? If she had won -which easily could have happened - how would I have felt? Now, I can empathize with her supporters, many of whom are dear friends or relatives. If I were in their position, I would feel frustrated, sad or angry. One family member and friend threaten to vote for McCain. I guess I can understand that, but had she won, I would have boycotted by not voting, rather than crossing to the other party. 

In any event, sadly, I don't see how both sides of the Democratic party can come together, I blame this on the Clintons' scorched earth campaign yet my HRC supporting friends claim it was Obama's fault. They say that even though he didn't make inflammatory comments against her, his surrogates did. Perhaps they lose the nuance that it might not be the same thing to have associates make improper remarks as to have the actual candidate make them herself? (even HRC's supporters don't seem to deny that she took it to a new level on that score) But I can see how this could be regarded as having it both ways - Obama took the high road while his associates played dirty to keep up with the Clintons. The worrisome thing is that both sides can't seem to even recognize the other's positions. Even me. 

I grew to loathe Clinton personally, which scares me, since I consider myself a feminist. Some think that in this race it was a litmus test - race trumps gender or the other way around. So did race trump gender for me? I think it was his platform - though I don't agree with all of it. I think (fear) that he is too conservative and I strongly disagree with his policy regarding immigration. However I admire his frankness in discussing race, agree with most of his domestic and foreign policy and find his demeanor admirable. And I do identify with him as a person of mixed race. I don't identify with HRC as a woman just like I don't identify with Margaret Thatcher, Condi Rice or other conservative women as women. To me they're working for the other side, regardless of anatomy, even when I can respect the fact that they are strong enough to succeed regardless of the sexism that persists in the US and everywhere else. That's where I can empathize with Sen. Clinton, even though I strongly disagree with many of her views, and especially with the ways in which she conducts the campaign and now, her defeat.

On a personal note, I can empathize with Clinton's refusal to concede defeat in one way: I am striving to refuse to concede defeat in my search for a healthy relationship. Yes, this is trivial in comparison to the search for the next leader of the so-called free world, but it takes up as much of my time as following this fascinating, frustrating and ultimately unsatisfying campaign. Like Clinton, I threw myself into my campaign in earnest a year and a half ago and like her, I had moments where I thought I was "winning." All signs pointed to a rise in my "polling data." I was introduced to promising men by mutual friends. And in just 4 months, on two different on-line dating sites, I have tracked the hundreds of men who have been interested enough to look at my profile.  As a campaigner, the last thing you want is to lose them at hello, you want them to at least read your platform! 

And the polling numbers themselves were encouraging - the alleged straight man shortage in NY appeared to be a mirage as I saw the numbers ticking upwards. They are out there, it's just that in my daily life I don't meet them, I told myself. Winks, emails, calls, a date or two, and I saw that they are just like the flesh and blood men that I also met during this time - they seem interested, they appear to seek you out, then they disappear. They say they will call, but they do not. They claim they want to get to know you, but they don't. To put it bluntly: they send mixed messages, or to put it plainly, they lie. On line as in real life, they are juggling more than one woman at once, hedging their bets. In that way, I did feel more empowered since I tried out contacting more than one person at a time, the better to up my chances of meeting one that I was compatible with. 

As in real life, I found that my admittedly exacting criteria for an ideal partner is hard to find on-line. Few men seemed to have higher education, very liberal political views, an interest in travel, a down-to-earth sense of humor, intellectual interests leavened by a love for pop culture and campy stuff, to list just a few. I was contacted by probably a hundred men or more - I had to disable the email link because my inbox was cluttered with these messages every other day - the vast majority of which I was not interested in for specific reasons. Yet I tried to be open-minded, meeting men whose politics were far to the right of mine, or whose interests were not as close of a match as I would have liked, for example. 

All of this time, I have viewed  Obama as an ideal version of the man I would like, though I fear that he is not as comfortable with un-PC, trashy, or campy pop culture as I would prefer. And it also concerns me that the fabulous Michelle Obama had to quit her high-powered job to support his. At the end of the day, like HRC, I refuse to concede, for now. And like HRC, and unlike Michelle Obama, I have my job which gives me great personal satisfaction. It will keep me busy until and if I should find a man to include as part of my fabulous life.