This year has been one most interesting election years in my years of voting. The primaries with divervse views represented by Dennis Kucinich, Joe Biden, John Edwards, Mike Huckabee, and Ron Paul. The contest for the nomination between Hillary and Obama. The resurrection of McCain in the Republican race. The emergence of Sarah Palin. This election season has gone through so many twists and turns. I’m excited by these elections because the Obama, Clinton, and even Palin candidacies are breaking down barriers of racism and sexism. These candidates have faced their share of racism and sexism to break down these barriers and these reactions show how far America has to go to be rid of these vices.
I voted for Hillary during the California primaries, but I have to admit that I didn’t have the same fervor that some of my friends had for Clinton. My mom, sister in law, and several close friends were Hillary enthusiasts and they were deeply angry at the way Hillary was treated during the primaries. I’ve always wondered, “How was she treated that would cause such anger among these women?” An article in the September 13th edition of the Economist titled “The Triumph of Feminism” wrote:
“She not only lost an unlosable primary race. She was dissed and denounced in the process. Chris Matthews of MSNBC said that she owed her Senate seat to her husband’s infidelity. One lobbyist created an anti-Hillary pressure group called Citizens United Not Timid. A couple of young men ordered her to ‘iron my shirt’. Mr. McCain, whom she regards as a good friend, looked on benignly when a Republican asked him ‘How do we beat the b____?'”
Hillary handled these things with dignity and composure, but it angered many of her supporters that she would be treated in such a way.
Obama faced racism during the primaries and into the general election. Early in the primaries, a rumor was started that he was secretly a Muslim and they pointed to his early schooling in Muslim schools in Asia (this is an example of islamophobia as well as subtle racism, for even if he was a Muslim, how would that make him less qualified to be President?). Union leaders have had some trouble gathering support with a small group of union members who would not vote for a black man. Eric Alterman, in an article in the September 1, 2008 issue of the Nation wrote of a more subtle form of racism that is faced by Obama. Alterman wrote:
“Historically blacks and dark-skinned immigrants have been accused of ‘not knowing their place’ by whites who see their positions challenged, and are deemed to be ‘uppity’. The code word du jour is ‘presumptuous’.”
Though I disagree with most of Sarah Palin’s political stances, I have to admit that I was captivated as everyone else by her biography of a moose hunting former beauty queen and basketball player and mother of five. I think criticism of her lack of experience is justified and she should be questioned more on her political views, but I was glad that Obama took the high road and said that Palin’s private family life should be off limits to media scrutiny. If a male politician is not questioned on whether he has time for both his family and his political life, then Palin shouldn’t be either. I hope McCain and Palin lose this election, but I’m glad that Palin has stepped onto the national stage. In the September 15, 2008 issue of Newsweek, Kathleen Deveny wrote as a liberal who found herself liking Palin:
“But if I’m really honest with myself, I’m mostly just happy that there’s another woman on the national political stage. I think it’s good for my 8 year old daughter, who has called Hillary Clinton her idol. She doesn’t love Hillary because of her health-care policy or pro-choice stance: she loves Hillary because she thinks girls rule. The more powerful women there are on the national stage, the better it is for all women, because this is a game of numbers… when there are enough women in our political life, maybe we will be able to judge them as individuals, rather than representatives of all things uterine.”
As a person who voted for Hillary during the primaries, I happily support Obama now. If you compare Obama’s position on major issues (http://www.barackobama.com/issues/) with Hillary’s (http://www.hillaryclinton.com/), they share similar views on how to help America on the economy, on the environment, on weaning ourselves off of our oil dependency, on departing from Iraq, on getting universal health care for every American, for getting a cap and trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, for a program to give illegal immigrants a chance to gain citizenship, for a middle class tax cut and government stimulus for the economy, for a measured policy in Iraq. In spite of the barriers, Obama and Hillary’s successful campaigns point to a trend where marginalized and minority groups are gaining a greater percentage of the voting population. These changing demographics, more than anything else, may do the most to reduce the racism and sexism in this country and to end the Republican success in the national elections. I end this post with an excerpt from an article in the September 1, 2008 issue of the Nation by Chris Bowers. Bowers wrote:
“Given that Republicans consolidated a shrinking majority against a series of rising minorities, unless the scapegoating stops, their electoral future appears bleak. In 1992, Latinos and Asians made up only 3 percent of the electorate, but in 2006 they accounted for 10 percent. In 1990, according to the National Survey of Religious Identification conducted by the City University of New York, only 10 percent of the country self-identified as non-Christian. According to a 2001 follow-up from CUNY as well as a 2008 study conducted by the Pew Forum on religion and American life, that number had increased to 22-23 percent of the national population. Although it receives somewhat less fanfare, the national drift from Christian self identification is changing the cultural face of America even more rapidly than the large influx of Latino and Asian immigrants. Combined, these two trends are changing the cultural and political structure of America with such alacrity that, according to a 2005 study by Greenberg Quinlin Rosner, ‘OMG! How Generation Y Is Redefining Faith in the iPod Era,’ only 39 percent of Americans born between 1965 and 1994 (inclusive) self idenify as both white and Christian, compared to 66 percent of Americans born in 1964 or earlier. Given the partisan voting habits of nonwhites and non-Christians discussed in the previous paragraph, it isn’t hard to see that Republicans are facing a slow-motion electoral tidal wave that is turning the country nearly 1 percent more Democratic every year, regardless of specific political conditions.
It is from this rising tide that Obama should find his victory. “