It’s Not about Gender or Race anymore
By Ras H. Siddiqui
Sacramento , CA
Senator Barack Obama is on a roll. He is winning state after state and is now running neck to neck with Senator Hillary Clinton for the Democratic party candidacy to become America ’s next President. Senator John McCain on the other hand has a relatively open field ahead of him at the moment, with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee following some distance behind him for the Republican ticket to the White House. Either way American democracy is exhibiting strengths that we have not witnessed in a quite a while, especially as younger voters who kept their apathetic distance in the past have become newly energized in this race.
There could be a number of reasons for this new voting zeal. The war in Iraq is just one, as is the precarious shape of the economy with the dreaded “R” word being mentioned with slowdowns and layoffs becoming a possibility. But that is not all. This new election energy has a great deal to do with not just the issues which have not really changed drastically (how long have we been talking about Universal Healthcare!) but this time the catalyst is the candidates themselves. And the Democrats certainly have the momentum there.
Before going further into the duo of Clinton and Obama, it would be wise not to discount the Republican candidates. Senator McCain is a fighter and a survivor and Gov. Huckabee is quite a likeable figure. Both or either one of them will not be easy to defeat in November and I believe that too much emphasis is being placed on the negatives of the George W. Bush legacy too soon. Anything can happen between now and November, especially if a certain terrorist named Osama can be produced before then. But whether that happens or not, the Republicans will be in it to win and that is something that can be counted upon.
The Democrats have both gender and race going for them in this election. America has certainly (and finally) come a long way to witness and participate in an election which will choose between a black man and a woman to run for President in a major political party. And the race there is currently so close that nobody can really predict which one will eventually be the final party choice at the Democratic convention.
But this information is all very much in our sights already. What we are not really seeing as we participate in the “Change” being promoted is much more interesting. While both gender and race might be acting as the catalyst for the change in our voting patterns and new voter excitement, this upcoming election is not about either gender or race. What Senators Clinton and Obama have already accomplished is to inject into the mix the newness of what they are, a woman and a man of color. But the issues that both have been talking about are of immediate concern to the mainstream White, Hispanic or Asian voters as well and not only women or African Americans. The level of interest in this election amongst the young, women and minorities has certainly perked up the overall interest in this election of 2008.
It is going to be a tough race to the presidency for all the participants. It is also great to be a part of this vote during which the next occupant of the White House will be chosen. And it may be too early to speculate about the possibility of a Clinton-Obama or an Obama-Clinton ticket in November, but the positive impact that both of them have already had on our electoral process has been felt. The next step is still in the hands of voters but this is certainly an exciting time to be involved in American politics as history is being made before us today.