Monday, January 7, 2008

American Elections : Hillary and the Denial of Feminine Traits

We are closely following American elections here from Iran. The recent Iowa results found their way in top news of both government and independent media in Iran. Many political observers have reasons to believe or speculate that political developments in Iran and the US are somehow interrelated after the Islamic Revolution. A look at the attitudes and rhetoric of Iranian and US Presidents during the past decades implicates some sort of reciprocal behavior between the two. Iran, once considered only an inferior outpost for American governments , has now become a serious rival by all means.

Take, for example, when during reformist President Khatami, Iran reached out to the world to maintain relationships on the basis of mutual interests and dignity; Secretary of State Albright came up with an apology for the CIA engineered Coup-d’├ętat in 1953 which had toppled the nationalist Government of Dr.Mohammad Mosadegh and had plunged the nation into 25 years of dark tyranny and dictatorship. However, when Mr. Bush changed direction to label Iran as a member of the Axis of Evil, the atmosphere in Iran also changed drastically , reformists came under pressure to stiffen their foreign policy and ultimately politics shifted, partly in response to the American aggressive tones, to the very sharp and yet ultraconservative rhetoric of the current administration in Iran.

In any case, as an Iranian involved in politics both in the national and to some extent international domain , I think it is important to provide an independent perspective on global affairs including American elections. Some media have considered the recent Iowa elections to be a political earthquake. In the election process Iowa has always been the first contest, but this time it has proven to be critically important as well. Here, many Iranian analysts are skeptical about the current bipartisan political system in the US. They feel that American politics are heavily influenced by outer forces, including market forces, oil cartels, the military machinery, the media conglomerate , but above all the influential Zionist lobby in Washington. Even if the majority of the American people wish for something, it will not emerge from the election before gaining the consent of those forces. This is the tragic fate of democracy in the US. These analysts believe that ultimately whoever wins, Democrat or Republican , little change will occur in terms of foreign policy and the” arrogant” attitude of the administration.

It seems that the Iraq War has helped Iowan voters decide and over come doubts that they have to take part in the election process. This a doubt that Iranian voters have also faced and this being very related to trust and belief in the possibility for genuine change. 220,000 democrats voted in Iowa which is twice the turnout in 2004. ( It is still less than the votes I individually obtained from the city of Tehran in 2006). They have understood that the system is facing a serious test and if it fails to restore the confidence people lost during this period, they will face more troubles in the future. Realizing the terrible social and economic woes at home and the immense losses they have face abroad, “change” is the key word all candidates employ. It seems that America has reached an impasse where desire for change out powers everything else.

There are two “firsts” in this round of presidential elections, the first black president and the first woman president are major temptations for voters cross cutting through gender and racial issues. Hillary Clinton has feminine appearances, money , organization, party stars and the popular Clinton name. She however lost in Iowa among the women and the whites. There are several possibilities to explain this voter distaste to Hillary.

The first may be, as explained above, the general aversion of the public opinion for anyone who seems to have strong ties to the administration and have supported the current President in some of his critical policies including going to war in Iraq. The second may be the name calling and smearing campaign she has followed in competition with her rivals. She seems to have taken the ethical judgments of the religious American society very lightly. It is interesting to note that we have had a similar challenge in election campaigning in Iran and the worse case emerged during the 2005 election presidential campaigns where contrary to all human and Islamic norms certain candidates relied heavily on the smear campaign for their votes. Interestingly both Iran and America have a very religious social fabric and despite this reality, many candidates on both sides of the divide have failed to demonstrate their ethical integrity. Not to mention that this fact weighs more heavily in a state which claims to be religious and Islamic like Iran. A paradoxical deduction worth contemplating!

Hillary, like many women reaching up to the helm of political power, has resigned from her feminine qualities . She has failed to draw upon her womanhood, her sincere affections , her moral integrity, her altruism and above all her sincerity in this campaign. In this race, Hillary has denied her sublime feminine traits. Hillary has made the mistake in trying to send the message that she is man enough to be president of the United States. She should have claimed she is woman enough to be president.

It is no surprise that Obama has won a remarkable appeal across cultural and racial lines. It may still be too early to say, but it seems that Americans are signaling for change. Americans must know that if they believe in the democratic nature of their political system , each one of them will be held accountable for the decisions they make and the votes that they cast since it will ultimately influence not only the livelihoods of millions of Americans but the lives of billions of others in the world.

1 comment:

mohammed.husain said...

Salaam Alaykum Dr. Ebtekar,

I agree with you about Hillary. I think its somewhat ironic. Many people say that having a woman in power would incline a country towards peace and reconciliation rather than aggression and war, as these are masculine tendencies. Perhaps there is some validity to this, but certainly not for Hillary! She seems a bit war hawkish by any standard.