As a black woman, race and gender are neither as complicated nor as "precious" a commodity as they are for non-black or non-female folks. I do not feel the need to base my voting decisions on either. And, it is quite liberating to be able to erase both from the equation in choosing a Democratic candidate to support.
Thinking of it as an algebra problem where you are solving for the value of X, both sides of the equation must be treated equally.
As ironic as it sounds, I think of Barack as "Barry" and Hillary as "Harry." Imagining them this way makes it easier for me to cut through the bull. We have no problem electing white men to be president. We also have no reservations about praising or criticizing them. Looking at "Barry" and "Harry" takes the "historical weightiness" or pressure off so that we can see Obama and Clinton as candidates beyond the "first date" excitement of what they look like. Then is much easier not to equivocate.
"Barry" and "Harry" are different candidates. They have similar policies but different points of view and ways of walking through the world.
"Barry" grew up poor, worked hard, became Ivy League educated and returned to engage communities in grassroots organizing around poverty issues. "Harry" grew up in a comfortable suburb, became Ivy League educated and fought the good fight when it seemed appropriate or appealing.
"Barry" has consistently shown good judgment with his political and personal decisions. "Harry" has consistently exhibited moral relativism in his political and personal decisions, sometimes making very disappointing, if not compromising choices. Experience is not always evidence of good judgment. This snapshot view speaks volumes to the character of the respective candidates.
As a matter of judgment and character, I have become an unequivocal Obama supporter -- not because of his race but because of his consistent moral compass. I believe he will make decisions that will best support a caring and progressive agenda that, regardless of race and gender, will benefit all Americans, especially those in the working and middle classes.
Furthermore, Obama is better equipped to implement these policies. His diplomacy and ability to bring people to the table are not trivial attributes and should not be minimized or denigrated. No matter how much Clinton insists -- words do matter and are far from empty. They are basic in communicating ideas and bringing people who may be resistant toward compromise. Force and impatience simply do not persuade as well as respect and diplomacy.
For instance, if anyone has ever been to the hospital for a serious condition, but then has to deal with a doctor who might be competent and very good clinically but lacks bedside manner, then it is crystal clear how words can make all the difference in the world. They can provide restore your equilibrium, guide you toward good decisions and appropriate action in critical moments. Our country is at a dire moment where this is exactly what we need.
Essentially, the real question we have to ask ourselves is: Do we want a president that is going to tell us what is best for us and then march forward insensitive to diplomacy? Or do we want a president who will facilitate and motivate our government and the American public to collectively make the necessary changes?
With race and gender issues aside and eight years of cowboy Bush and a very bi-partisan Washington, the answer seems like a no-brainer to me.