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this election season with two formidable candidates running for the Democratic nomination – all the talk revolved around who they were, or that they were the token “black” or “female” candidates. people couldn’t stop discussing race and gender, and the uglier sides of racism and sexism. in these days of political correctness, we aren’t supposed to talk about those things, sure it still exists, but most of us are above that sort of thing and treat everybody equally and respectfully. i think we are on the right path, making concerted efforts to see people on their merits and hold them accountable for their own words & actions. but we cannot deny that race, gender and sexuality exist, at times – it’s like the huge pink, polka dotted, wearing skinny jeans, with a beret and smoking a cigar elephant in the room – and that snap judgments are often made based upon these identifying factors.
the debate around affirmative action seems to be whether or not to acknowledge these differences. george w. bush had one of the most diverse cabinets, but he repeatedly insisted he chose these people based on their credentials, not on the other things. which is good. hillary made a concerted effort throughout her campaign not to bring up that she was a woman, it was only in her concession speech that she spoke of “18 million cracks in that glass ceiling”. barack, for the most part, did the same thing, as well. he had to denounce reverend wright, and make other gestures to reach out to the general public who only saw him as the “token, black candidate”. his acceptance speech is set to be the 45th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I have a Dream” speech, here we can’t deny the history being made, and nor should we. it is an amazing thing. i’m not sure i will have kids, but if i do, i will tell them about it.
i don’t agree in necessarily voting or choosing someone b/c they do fit a certain profile – wanting racial equality and thus voting for barack only because he is black, or a feminist only voting for hillary because she is a woman. perhaps it’s a generational thing, i’ve heard many who have fought for civil rights and women’s right where they must vote for their candidate because they have worked so hard to get to this point. i’m lucky to be of the next generation where we already believe and have a basis for that equality, while race and gender are still unavoidable and important factors, i believe most of us approach voting as a measure of the candidate’s merit, experience, and capability. the thinking that sarah palin will attract female voters simply because is an insult to the scores of women who have strongly stood behind hillary clinton, not just because she is a woman, but for her experience, history and ideas for education, healthcare, and women’s rights, as well. for now, i just wonder how much of the discussion to mention it or not mention it (race, gender, sexuality, econ. background), whether or not to make a big deal about it, really just creates a “one step forward, two steps back” type of progression.