A Minority or Female President in 2008?Monday, March 05, 2007 By Reese Higgins
In 2008, United States voters will be challenged to decide who will best run their country for the next four years. Before the final candidates go head-to-head, we will have to sift through all the candidates, a group that is turning into quite an eclectic mix. With a minority and a female candidate running for office, America is being asked the big questions. Is America ready for a minority or female president? We certainly should be. Why is their race/sex even a problem? As of right now, more than a year and a half away from the official November election, there are eight candidates running as Democrats and 13 possible candidates running as Republicans. Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D–New York) and Barack Obama (D–Illinois) are the most talked about democratic candidates. The Republican Party has yet to fuel any exciting discussions about the race for President of the United States of America. The most well-known republican candidates happen to be the current Senator of Arizona, John McCain, and the former Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani. McCain, who is 70 years old, has served in the House of Representatives, as well as the Senate. He served the Navy as a pilot from 1958 to 1981 and was a prisoner of war from 1967 to 1973 in Vietnam. He ran for President in 2000, but failed to secure the nomination. He is known for his off-and-on support of the current President. Giuliani is best known for his dealings with the devastating effects of a terrible event that occurred during his term in office. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 gave elected officials everywhere in America a subject to rally their constituents by. Giuliani gave hope to a city in despair and he won over America with his passion for the city. Events that stemmed from that deadly day also led to the downfall (a fall that, just recently, began going down a steeper slope) of the current American President, George W. Bush. Although 9/11 initially brought new faith in Bush, the war against terrorism has turned American patriotism against him. His approval ratings have been at an all-time low and his new “surge” initiative in Iraq, along with other policies, are not helping his popularity with the American public, or the world. But back to the candidates… Clinton is a Caucasian, evangelical Christian woman and Obama is an African-American man, as well as a member of the United Church of Christ. Could they win? Should they? Can America, with all its history, accept them? We need to learn from our past, even though many would say we do not have any kind of past that can educate us. That would be ignorance talking. Remember the civil rights movement of the 1960s? Women voting rights? The emancipation proclamation? Already biased, not knowing how the country could be run by a female or minority President, the U.S. cannot begin to theorize on how our country would be run with these candidates. The lack of fair mindedness in this country needs to change. Our negative qualities will however be a factor come November 2008. Voters should realize that any candidate for anything will be different from another candidate. A politician’s sex, race and creed might influence their views, but there are many other factors to take into account. Where and how one is raised, what kind of people one interacts with and the education one has received are all important things to consider, all things that are different for every human. Everyone is different, and not just in the obvious ways. Since the Republican Party does not have any female or minority candidates (What has Colin Powell been up to lately?), we’ll examine the Democratic Party. First, let’s look at look at other Democratic candidates briefly: Former Senator John Edwards (North Carolina), Senator Chris Dodd (Connecticut), Senator Joe Biden (Delaware), Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel (former Senator for Alaska), and current New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. Edwards ran for Vice President with Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) in 2004 against Bush and V.P. Richard Cheney. The rest of the Democratic candidates are pretty standard: white men, largely of some type of Christian background. Every candidate has some good traits , and they are all well qualified to some extent. So why are race and gender the big issues they are today? Second, we should look at the likelihood of the Democrats winning the big election. They just took the House majority back from the Republicans, and many more politicians from the left are becoming more vocal about their opposition to the war in Iraq, a war that is presently quite unpopular with the American people. The Republican representation in the White House does not bode well for the GOP, seeing as how Bush is losing supporters on all sides of the political spectrum. If the Democrats were to win a presidential election, 2008 would be their year. Third: Will Clinton or Obama be able to survive the primary election? This might be a little too much speculation, but there is a large chance that one of them could soldier on. This nation needs to be able to accept a candidate who is different from the norm – white, male, Christian, etc. Finally, we must ask ourselves if this nation is actually prepared to accept someone who is different from the norm. Obama and Clinton are not what America as a whole is used to, but change is not always such a bad thing. Their positions in life might affect their views, but they just happen to be individuals of a different race/gender than that of our nation’s last 43 Presidents. Unfortunately, racism, sexism and a slew of other troubling problems still exist today. These are issues that have been around for ages, dating back over two thousand years. These issues are a few of the reasons why the race, gender and religious backgrounds of our presidents have been roughly the same for the past 200 years. America is turning around though. Nancy Pelosi (D-California) became the first female Speaker of the House on January 4, 2007; Pelosi also happens to be the third in line for the Presidency. Also on the fourth, the first Muslim congressman was sworn into office, Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. Another barrier broken by Ellison: before him, no African American had ever been elected to the House of Representatives for Minnesota. Will Obama or Clinton win in ’08? At this point in time, it is still pretty much in the air. There seems to be more certainty about them not winning, but we cannot be so sure yet, since not everyone has announced their candidacy. Clinton does not seem like the most likely to win the race. Why? While Clinton may be a highly admired politician by women and men in America, there is still a large group of men, and women, who disagree with her candidacy. Two key points: 1) She has stood by her controversial husband, former President William “Bill” Clinton, for years. Senator Clinton continued to support her husband (but not his decision of adultery) after he had an extramarital affair with a White House intern (Monica Lewinsky) in 1998. Yes, many people have a problem with Senator Clinton’s actions regarding President Clinton. 2) America is still sexist. While these points may not seem huge, they just might be in 2008. Obama has not revealed many points to root against him. He has admitted to experimenting with drugs as a teenager, though. Currently, he is quitting the use of alcohol and cigarettes. Some are uncertain about their support of Obama’s campaign because his father is an immigrant from Kenya. Obama is unlike many African Americans who are descendants of slaves. This topic has become bothersome for those who do not consider him truly “black,” as deemed by American culture, because of his family’s history in the U.S. His father also has come under fire for his reportedly questionable background. But we won’t get into that here. Unless their parents’ actions were very extreme, candidates should not be judged by the lives their parents led. Like one’s relatives, gender and race do not represent an individual’s person. Do not judge candidates on the actions of others, but judge them on their own actions. To answer the main question: Yes, many Americans are ready for a minority or female President. The key part of that sentence is many. Unfortunately, some people never change their bad habits. Americans can still be hateful and fearful, feelings that might prevent Senators Obama or Clinton from taking office. America needs to have an open mind, as well as a heart, for candidates with different perspectives because of their gender or the color of their skin. Awesome potential is wasted for so many others, thanks to the American mindset. It is human nature to be afraid of what one does not know. And we might never come to know the greatness the White House holds for so many bright people.