An Election To Really Care About
Wednesday - March 05, 2008
Presidential primaries in Texas and Ohio should be pau by the time you read this. No matter what the eventual outcome, I and millions of voters have some requests:
Keep it clean.
Keep it fair.
And keep it going.
This year we are - for the most part - getting a different kind of race. Candidates so far are navigating the high road. One of the biggest reasons may be because we, the public, made it clear to them that we are not in the mood for character assassination. We want issues and civility, not distortions and mud. Perhaps that is hopelessly naïve, but it’s what we crave.
Decades of dirty politics have left us feeling like we need a collective shower.
When I went to vote in the caucus a couple of weeks ago (my first time, by the way), the thing that struck me was how happy people looked. Here we were stuck in a long line that snaked around Wilson School. There was confusion and pandemonium inside the packed cafeteria. And yet the people I spoke with were thrilled to be a part of it all.
Say again? Politics making people happy? Absolutely. And why not? For the first time in a long time people feel they are actually making a difference. We have candidates who represent real change, not the fake stuff politicians usually throw us like bones.
In Hillary Clinton we see the denouement of the long struggle for gender equality. We see the validation of our efforts and our instincts - the ones that told us that if we worked hard enough, were smart enough and persisted long enough, we would finally break through the glass that kept us on the other side. I don’t buy the argument that if we don’t elect Clinton now it will make it almost impossible for a woman to run and win in the future. I believe the opposite - that her historic candidacy has shown Americans that a woman can run a tough, serious campaign and voters will take her seriously as a candidate. The deep national well of misogyny is still there, make no mistake about it. But thousands of people are voting for her, which means thousands have already confronted and overcome their old assumptions.
No matter what happens or who gets the nomination, Sen. Clinton has already proven herself as a leader and as a candidate worthy of respect.
As has Barack Obama.
In Sen. Obama many see America as we want it to be, as it should be - a colorblind, idealistic and energized America. We see a man who answers questions of race by his very existence. He is living proof that black and white are not mutually exclusive. We in Hawaii have long appreciated the beauty of our blended ethnicities, but much of the rest of the country is still catching up. Race is on the verge of being defined in new terms, and it’s about time.
Sen. Obama is criticized for his oratory skills. But the “all flash, no substance” argument doesn’t cut it, and the people know it. We are listening to words that appeal to the best in us, and a funny thing is happening. We are no longer embarrassed or too cynical to feel hope. People of all ages are eager to participate,, and young people who have traditionally stayed away in droves are today galvanized and passionately involved.
How on earth can that be a bad thing?
The truth is, it’s not. It’s a great thing and it’s happening at a time when we desperately need it.
Savor this election season, folks. It is a rare and elusive window to a better world, now, finally, within our grasp.
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