Home > Archive >  2008 >  June >  3

The Jackie Robinson of Politics

Tuesday, June 03, 2008 by Dave Winer.

It's hard for a man to compete against a woman. You can see it in the speech that Obama gave tonight, he went right at McCain, in a way he never could have against Hillary Clinton, even though she was incredibly tough on him during the primary campaign. Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named robinson.jpgPolitical competition between men and women is like everything else between men and women. We defer to women, we are protective of women, and we won't stand for a man attacking a woman, even symbolically. And like everything else in gender relations, the women have better PR, men almost never speak for their gender (I do, but it's rare). It's now finally become a matter for the highest level of political competition, and it's so taboo, you'll see that I will likely be attacked for stating an opinion. I've withheld it this long because I didn't want it to be tied up in the competition between Obama and Clinton, now it's clear that is over (one can hope) and we can see clearly the difference between it and the upcoming one between two men. The two contests will be very different, I think anyone can see that. Permalink to this paragraph

Oddly, the awkwardness of compeittion betw men and women disadvantages both, the woman is seen as not being serious, and the man is seen as being weak. Obviously because the man is not taking the woman seriously (by withholding serious competition) and the man is being weak.  Permalink to this paragraph

Obama will continue to defer to Clinton, they'll maintain the traditional gender roles, but we'll forgive him if he doesn't pay her much attention from this point on. He has a battle to fight, one which more and more of us will want him to win, I predict.  Permalink to this paragraph

Obama was the perfect candidate to compete with a woman for President, for the same reasons he's a perfect black candidate. His anger is supressed, the same way it was for Jackie Robinson. Obama is the Jackie Robinson of politics. In the same way the first black major leage player had to soak up everyone's rage and express none of his own, no one votes for an angry black man,, at least not yet (we will eventually) and anger expressed by a man for a woman is not tolerated either. Permalink to this paragraph

Put a note aside until the next Presidential election where there's a serious woman canddiate, hopefully a visionary woman who understands this issue, and can communicate about it the way Obama was able to communicate about race. Let's create a level playing field, let's not tolerate sexism, in either direction -- and let both candidates be fully competitive. When a husband protests that his wife isn't being well-respected, as Bill Clinton did in this election, let's ask him to stand aside and let his wife fight her own battles. And let's not require one candidate to send flowers to the other, competitors only have to be gracious in defeat or victory, not while the fight is ongoing. Permalink to this paragraph

BTW, I have MP3s of each of the three candidates' speeches tonight. Unfortunately the McCain speech was interrupted when the polls closed in South Dakota, putting Obama over the top for the Democratic nomination. All the networks interrupted McCain. Permalink to this paragraph

1. McCain's speechPermalink to this paragraph

2. Clinton's speechPermalink to this paragraph

3. Obama's speechPermalink to this paragraph


Recent stories:

A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

Dave Winer Mailto icon

My most recent trivia on Twitter.

I'm a California voter for Obama.

© Copyright 1994-2008 Dave Winer Mailto icon.

Last update: 10/20/2008; 8:22:33 AM Pacific. "It's even worse than it appears."

Click here to view blogs commenting on  RSS 2.0 feed.