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by Russell Morse

Women to the Rescue for Hillary

(PNS) PHILADELPHIA -- I'm concerned that this election is turning me into a misogynist.

Last night, I watched Hillary Clinton deliver her victory speech in a hotel in downtown Philadelphia, cringing. I looked around nervously and realized I was in a ballroom full of my mom. Instantly, I became terrified of this middle-aged white woman army, marching through America, stomping young people's dreams out with their sensible shoes.

After the address, I shared an elevator with several of them, one of whom gleefully snapped, "That and his change didn't get him Pennsylvania." Her girlfriends giggled as they emptied the elevator on their way to taunt the Obama supporters who had gathered outside the hotel, one of them with a bullhorn tucked under her arm.

This is a reflection of a lot of these women's attitudes, as if they resent the notion of change.

It occurs to me, though, that it is not strictly a gender issue. I also take issue with these women because of their age. I am not a declared Obama supporter (though if I vote, I might vote for him), but the attitude of these women is pushing me toward his camp.

Every event I go to, I see them circled up, uttering the phrase, "it's our turn." I don't know what that means. I have come to see Clinton as every teacher, nun, mom, principal and judge who gleefully punished and scolded me my entire life. I see myself in Obama, not because of his ideas or his race, but as a victim of the tyranny of bossy old women.

Outside of the hotel, a group of Clinton supporters yelled at a passing car of Obama supporters, chanting "we won." I got the sense that when they say "we" they they mean women. I don't know how to hide this disdain any more. It's embarrassing. It's awful. But it's in me. By the same token, this must be the same thing that latent racists are experiencing in response to Obama.

Hillary's victory speech came at the end of a long day for me, witnessing the glee and enthusiasm of young Obama supporters in the streets of Philadelphia.

I covered the forgettable election in 2004 with the aim of extracting the "youth voice," a perspective of a new political generation. The problem came when I realized there was no new political generation, just a lot of old people poisoning young minds to fall in line.

During the Republican Convention, George Lucas told me that the world was controlled by corrupt old people twisting malleable, idealistic young minds. As a result, all of the young people I talked to during that disastrous campaign were more interested in drugs, alcohol and baseball. It was nearly impossible to get anybody to talk about the election.

I felt nerdy, like I was trying to draw members of my generation into a debate about Star Trek. Now, almost regrettably, I can't escape political discussions.

I'm realizing, after my visit to Philadelphia, that a generational divide is developing as a result of this election that might not ever be repaired -- not that it should be. Tuesday morning, I boarded a bus in New York's Chinatown for Philadelphia's Chinatown on the other end.

I sat next to a young Ghanaian college student who grew up in New York and the conversation quickly became political. I didn't even bring it up, he just started offering his opinions on Hillary, Barack and the tax code. "The rebates don't make any sense," as he pushes his glasses back on his forehead. Not surprisingly, he's an Obama supporter.

As I made my way off the bus in Philadelphia, I entered the realm of election mania. Market Street was crowded with Black teenagers toting hand painted Obama signs and singing double dutch rhymes.

Street vendors lined the street, selling t-shirts with slogans like, "Stop the drama. Vote Obama."

There was even a dress code: Phillies hat, Obama t-shirt. And spotted in the crowd were some odd anomalies: middle aged white women in visors, clutching Hillary signs, looking scared of roving packs of the young and colorful -- with the occasional black Clinton supporter or older white female Obama backer blowing up the sterotype.

I made my way through downtown to meet with a woman, Mrs. Hopson, who is volunteering for Obama's campaign in Philadelphia. She is a middle aged black woman, newly politicized. In 1980, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and as a result, she is in a wheelchair, though she leads a very active life. She's always voted, but she tells me she's never been particularly excited. I was curious if she was ever torn in the course of this election. She laughed and shook her head. "I was never conflicted. From the beginning, I knew I was for Hillary. And then Barack got in it and, well . . . "

From Mrs. Hopson's house, I made my way to City Hall, where supporters of both campaigns had gathered to wave signs and chant at passing cars.

It was a massive collection of people, crowding the steps of this city's iconic center to capacity. It was peaceful, but there was tension, with both camps trying to "out-chant" each other. O-ba-ma and Hil-la-ry can be shouted in the same cadence.

I realized that if you took away all the signs and t-shirts, it would still be easy to identify who was who. One side of the stairs was crowded by the post-feminism feminists with color treated hair and dour looks of Clinton's camp.

The other side was busy with the young, jubilant and multicultural people of Obama's team. As they turned their chants towards each other, it became a jarring, battling symphony of adolescent enthusiasm versus menopausal angst.

I made my way to South Philly to meet up with some friends, a young couple who just bought a home in this historic neighborhood. After work, they went to the elementary school on the corner to vote together. I don't want to project anything onto their relationship, but they're clearly in love and excited about starting a life together.

I was happy to walk with them and share that moment. They're not strictly "political people," but they're aware and invested, which is increasingly common in my generation. For the first time, I felt like I was witnessing the future unfold: a young, interracial couple, optimistic and happy.

Hours later, I was enternched in the ugliness and entitlement of the baby boomers, as the numbers came in and Pennsylvania broke, predictably, for Hillary.

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Albion Monitor   April 23, 2008   (

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