The trouble with this non-doctrine doctrine is that it lacks poetry. It is up to the president as leader to provide that poetry. He has to make us connect his values to our own. Obama could do that in the presidential campaign because he was the thrilling apotheosis of the multi-century struggle against racism. You could not vote for Obama and not have felt that somehow you had fired a shot in the Civil War or ridden a freedom bus into the Jim Crow South. That was a revolution, just as grand as this year’s in Egypt — and it will, for sure, end better.
Yes, that’s right: voting for Obama was the functional equivalent of serving in the Civil War, being a freedom rider, or risking imprisonment, beatings, and rape for standing up to the Mubarak regime this year. That’s funny–it didn’t seem all that dangerous or dramatic down at the Lutheran church fellowship hall where I waited in line to cast my ballot back in 2008. And I’m sure it’s just a complete accident that Cohen dreams that his vote is the equivalent of doing very tough, d00dly things like going to war or confronting violent regimes.
It’s almost too easy to point out how hopelessly fatuous this is. What I find more worthy of note is what a striking contrast Cohen’s fantasy offers to the fantasies that many so-called liberal white men harbored about Hillary Clinton in 2007-08. On the one hand, you had the “thrilling apotheosis of the multi-century struggle against racism,” and on the other hand, Vagina Dentata. There was no heroic Whig narrative into which to fit Clinton’s bid for the presidency–after all, everyone knows that we don’t need feminism because 1) it’s against God’s plan, and/or 2) everything’s awesome now for women, no thanks to feminism for that progress, because 3) we can “all” agree that feminism is neither an important human rights movement nor a heroic struggle to right centuries- or even millenia-long injustices.
Feminism is just a bunch of mouthy, shrill, self-interested
women broads. No heroes here–you have to look to men’s liberationist movements for the heroes.