time for a straight talk. we have to take for granted the ever-changing but everpresent existence of "good" political correctness, "bad" stereotypes and "uggly" prejudices. I'm not saying that we have to assimilate any of these (I actually advocate looking at them objectively and with repulsion, just like the forensic scientist perceives a corpse)--what I´m trying to say is that we have to accept that biased assumptions are in the air, that they're not going to disappear by 11/04/08, and that they're going to play a key role in these elections where the first female or African-American president may be elected. let's just be realistic and add a constructivist punch to our analysis: let's adjust our expectations right away; otherwise we'll get yet another kerry surprise.
that said -that is, adding political correctness, stereotypes, prejudices and other "sad but true" issues into the equation-, I came to the conclusion that, most of the times unfairly so, some others simply arbitrarily so, hillary's road to the white house seems more crooked than obama's. now, let's be honest, fixing the structural and cultural injustices that make things more difficult for hillary would take more than a year. it would take us even more to fix the hillary machine. that's why we should start by getting obama elected while we work on preparing the road for a wider variety of self-made women to take over the white house by 2012.
I don´t mean to say that hillary doesn´t have a chance. the electorate is more than ready to elect the wife, daughter or widow of a prominent political figure. but here's some of the reasons that come into my mind when I say that, as counterintuitive as it may seem, obama's movement has it easier than the hillary machine:
1. hillary has to look "tougher than a man," and this may translate into taking tougher-than-necessary measures, which may cost many moderate votes.
even some of those that discriminate in favor of women still hold this anacronystic stereotype to be self-evident: "women are softer on security issues." nevermind the fact that, even if the generalization was correct, it could well be because men are culturally compelled to be rougher than necessary, while women are free to choose to be just as tough as necessary, and not the least bit more. nevermind the gross and shameful unfairness. the truth is that hillary, a liberal woman running for president, has to appear to be HARDER than adviceable for a male candidate (read obama) on crime, on terrorism and on iraq just in order to be taken seriously by biased voters.
if hillary was elected prez, she´d HAVE TO be perceived as an iron woman (a stalinette) in this respect. this pressure wouldn´t fall as heavily upon barack (let's call it "the male prime"--unfair but factual). moderates are switching from hillary to obama because they find her comparatively more trigger happy than they really are (this may simply mean that perhaps hillary was TOO successful in being perceived as a tougher-than-your-average-joe candidate). neocons prefer hillary because they know that she knows that a bunch of voters think that bin laden, kim jong-il & other machos on top won´t take her seriously unless she´s "tougher than a man."
2. she´s not precisely miss charisma, and this may bring about a low voter turnout.
american voters discriminate against... "stiff ones." the "nerdy" type is the forgotten minority. even pc shuns "nerds." let's not discuss whether that's because "nerds" will never get to be "cool." the point is that hillary´s "machine-like" distance inspires voting in america as much as it inspired faithfulness in bill.
let's face it, if it weren´t for her womanhood and her clintonhood, hillary´s greatest aspiration would be that of being someone else´s "eminence grise" (a cheneyesque liberal) or a renowned spin doctor who knows all the ins and outs but lacks the "attitude" and the "electricity" to lead, to inspire and to be followed.
why risk betting on hillary when we've already got a charismatic leader capable of attracting hoards of independents, as well as of syntonizing a wide variety of voices? why have just another clinton experience when you get to feel redeemed and to vote with a smile on the sunnier side of the same road?
3. in the new economy 2.0: "new" beats "established in 1992"
bill is alive. even hillary´s supporters feel uncomfortable about that.
obama´s not a clinton or a bush for a change. plus he´s somewhat more diverse than hillary is. his victory would be perceived as a real, decisive, positive change at home and abroad.
4. the movement will end up beating the machine
obama´s movement runs on less dollars per new voter: charisma is more economic than the most precise of calculations.
you need to convince someone to get a new hillary voter; you only need to tune in someone to get a new obama girl or boy.
it´s turning increasingly costlier for hillary to make new converts and to keep brand loyalty at the same time.
hillary doesn´t get her support from the grassroots. plus, she´s a rather polarizing figure--those that would support her are already with her; it´s going to be really expensive for her to buy the support of those that have already opted out. and the worst is that the more money hillary will get from big corps and rich, "pardonned," donors, the more her voter base will be alienated, and the more difficult it will be to convince new voters to join a party with so many intimidating guests around.