The Nation: Race to the Bottom

Betsy Reed’s new Nation cover story, Race to the Bottom, is a blast of cold invigorating air in a campaign season that’s gotten torpid. While Hillary Clinton’s gender has been used against her in "deplorable" sexist attacks, Betsy reports, the race-based attacks on Barack Obama can be harder to recognize because they haven’t always been overt. Rather, they cast doubt on Obama’s patriotism, suggesting that he’s too foreign, or too divided in his allegiances, to be President. And the Clinton campaign is to blame for stoking the fire.

[W]hat is most troubling–and what has the most serious implications for the feminist movement–is that the Clinton campaign has used her rival’s race against him. In the name of demonstrating her superior "electability," she and her surrogates have invoked the racist and sexist playbook of the right–in which swaggering macho cowboys are entrusted to defend the country–seeking to define Obama as too black, too foreign, too different to be President at a moment of high anxiety about national security. This subtly but distinctly racialized political strategy did not create the media feeding frenzy around the Rev. Jeremiah Wright that is now weighing Obama down, but it has positioned Clinton to take advantage of the opportunities the controversy has presented. And the Clinton campaign’s use of this strategy has many nonwhite and nonmainstream feminists crying foul.

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