Saturday, June 14, 2008

"Isms" vs. Issues

As a talk radio show host, I tend to listen to a lot of talk radio to hear various host styles, listener commentary and of course the latest topics of discussion. One day last week I was listening to one of a selection of talk radio shows that I listen to and heard the host talking about how women were calling into the show and stating that Senator Hillary Clinton lost the presidential nomination due to "sexism." He like I, found this to be extremely interesting and even commented that Senator Clinton had made some major blunders especially where her credibility was concerned concerning her deplaning under sniper fire when the video tape showed her and Chelsea deboarding the plane smiling and waving. He also mentioned some other campaign mishaps and factors that were more likely to have contributed to her losing the race other than the fact that she was a woman.

I wondered as I listened to the women lamenting about the pervasiveness of sexism, if we have indeed reached a time in our history where "racism" actually placed second to "sexism." A black man was chosen over a white woman. Historically, this has not been the case. In general, a white woman tended to always be selected prior to a black man. One example of this was a white woman being sent into space before a black man. I don't recall hearing anything about sexism or racism at that time. When Geraldine Ferraro was chosen as the running mate of Walter Mondale over Jessie Jackson, who had garnered a vast number of votes during that period as a presidential candidate, I don't recall hearing anything about sexism at that time. Think about it, was America any more ready for a woman vice president at that time than it was for a black vice president? Yet, Mr. Mondale took the chance on an unknown Ferraro vs. a known Jackson.

This issue of THE CRITICAL THINKER is in no way an attempt to make light of sexism or racism. They are both "isms" we can do without. It is however, a chance for us to critically think about where we have been, where we are and where we are going. In this race we had both "isms" at play. A black man running against a white woman to be President of The United States. Potentially the first time in the history of this country for either. Which again shows how behind the times we here in the United States are; other countries have had women and black leaders and it's not an issue. I've always advocated for women to have the same opportunity as men with the only distinguishing factor being the most qualified person for the job. When women were "burning their bras" in the 70's, I was in support of that, thinking even then why shouldn't a woman be able to climb telephone poles, drive trucks or run companies just a a man does if she is qualified? It's the same position I take in terms of a person's race becoming confused with his or her qualifications. Neither race or gender ought to be considered as a qualification and yet in this country for many years it has. So it was interesting indeed to see racism square off against sexism.

Now that Senator Obama has become the democratic nominee, the proverbial rubber meets the road. Throughout this general election process we will truly see our "true colors" shining through. Will women who switched to the democratic party to vote for Hillary switch back to the republican party? Will the same folks who voted for Obama during the race for democratic nomination vote for him now that he is the nominee? Will women vote for McCain out of spite because they feel their candidate lost due to sexism? For me, these questions make me wonder if the electoral process is nothing more than an entertaining popularity contest. Women only voted for Hillary because she is a woman; blacks only voted for Obama because he is black. Perhaps, even men only voted for Obama because he is a man and lastly, white men voted for McCain because he is a white man. Where do the issues come into play here? With all of the nonsense about sexism and racism, I ask, what about the issues? The issues stupid, the issues.

We are in one of the worst economic times in a long time and all we can concern ourselves with is whether or not the president will be a black man, white woman or business as usual white man. We have more issues than we can shake a stick at and we are quibbling over race and gender. When are we going to wake up and hold our politicians accountable for addressing issues? Issues that matter to us all and not just a few. We cannot afford to waste our votes based on gender or race. We must choose the best person for the job; period. As we go to the polls throughout the remainder of the year, let's be sure to give some critical thought to our decisions as we pull those levers.

Critically yours,

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