A few months ago, I noticed something about the presidential candidates that I thought I should bring to your attention: Barack Obama is black. Hillary Clinton is a woman. John McCain is over 70.
The pundits would have us all be color, gender and age-blind. That’s not possible. All of these characteristics are part and parcel of each of the candidates, and they are part and parcel of this campaign. When Tom Hanks in his endorsement of Senator Obama (search YouTube) stated that “History is going to be made in November with a capital H”, he was alluding to race and gender.
But rather than allow these issues to be polarizing, we need to, as Senator Obama did in his speech in Philadelphia, acknowledge and address what they mean. There are people voting for, and against, each of the candidates for their differences. If we fail to, in our discussions, address what is going on beneath the surface, then we negate the possibility of being the change we want to see in the world.
I had a brief conversation early on in the Reverend Wright “scandal” with an older, white man about what the comments actually meant. He told me that because Senator Obama had attended the church, that he was a racist phony. Rather than jumping down his throat, I asked him to explain his logic. There were quite a few gaps. When I pointed them out, he simply said, “C’mon. You know that’s what he was saying.”
If we are to truly grow as a democratic people, “E pluribus unum”, then we need to ask some hard questions of ourselves – 1) Why am I supporting my candidate? Is it because of race? gender? 2) Why am I against the others? Is it because of race? gender? 3) Do I know what the candidates actually stand for? Do I agree?
He’s black. She’s a woman. He’s old. The question is why does it matter?