On my way home from work yesterday, I was listening to a speech from Sarah Palin, McCain’s running mate selection, on NPR. Politics aside, here is a woman who sounded intelligent, articulate, and interesting. Finally, the kind of ground level feminist America’s been waiting for. She worked her way from the bottom in a man’s world, starting with just trying to change her community… And she found herself ascending up the next wrung in the political ladder. (If the media has not exaggerated her story.)
I said politics aside. Before you start firing off comments and email messages containing links showing all her connections to Big Oil and whatever other unliberal agendas the internet has managed to scrounge up in the last 48 hours (including an interesting scandal I heard on NPR about how twenty-four hours before her nomination as running mate was announced, someone went through and changed all her wickipedia entries to sound more favorable), I realize she’s Republican. I have not lost sight of my ideals and I’m not going to cross to the Other Side to vote for McCain just because he has a female running mate. Trust me.
I’m just saying that the thought occurred to me yesterday that this is truly a landmark year. Come November, we’re going to see a first of somekind: Either the first African-American president or the first lady VP. Plain and simple. Have you stopped to think about the absolute awesomeness of this moment? A barrier is about to be broken, either for African-Americans or for women in an institution that has, since its inception, been a completely “white male” only club! Please do not ignore the fact that we, as a nation, may be finally growing up!
Actual ballet considerations aside, we also cannot overlook at all what has happened in this election series. I may not like Hillary Rodham Clinton all that much, I may denounce as a feminist role model, but I cannot overlook the fact that she was, at one point, a very serious presidential contender. We almost, quite possibly, could have had a female president. Now, we’ve got a female vice presidential nominee and no one is batting an eye. Welcome to politics in the world of 2008. Even though I’m pretty sure McCain took on a female VP to try to sway some of the jilted Hillary supporters to his side (since he is known as the “maverick” Republican–thanks, Michael, for the wording), I still feel overwhelmed by the urge to kiss him.
Okay, maybe not.
It gives me chills. I don’t care what the strategic reasoning for any of it is. We have turned a new, positive chapter in our history and I am proud–really, really proud–of my country for the first time in my life (and I had no objection to Michelle Obama’s mirror statement to that). Yeah. Go figure. I’m such a skeptic, such a nitpicker; too much of a display of patriotism inevitably makes me squirm (I used to openly mock the Lee Greenwood song, “I’m Proud to be an American”).
You know why this is so great? Because regardless of who wins this election, it paves a the way for more African-Americans and women and people of minority to enter the world of politics with the belief that they can make it all the way to the top (provided they’ve got the income to support it because, let’s face it, folks, you have to have some serious dough to run for president anymore). And it should be that way, dammit, in the Land of the Free, the Land of Opportunity, the Land of Plenty. We are finally practicing what we are preaching: If you have the will, you can find a way to the top and you can make a difference.
Okay, maybe I’m getting carried away. I’m just so excited. I don’t care at this moment what anyone’s politics are… I know, I know, I should because I’m not voting for Barrack Obama because he’s black… I’m voting for him because of my own ethics and morals and values that lead me to that choice. I’m not voting for McCain because Palin’s on the ticket. And you should be happy that for me it’s still about the issues… and the best person for the job (in my humble opinion) just happens to be African-American.
I’m filled with hope that we’re coming to a time when a person’s gender or race or–God, I hope some day this comes true–sexuality plays a role in their ability to do a job. I am filled with hope that we’ve reached a time when people can begin to look beyond a person’s exterior to view the candidates by their own merit. It’s a small step, true, but it’s a step nonetheless and I will not overlook the greatness of this moment.
Now. All we need next is an openly gay Jewish man with a life partner and three adopted children to be a serious president candidate… ;)