Thursday, May 1, 2008

An Election for the Ages

For the sake of full disclosure, let me say I've already written on this topic. It's just that no one has read it. I sat down last week and attempted to explain why I thought the current election was so important, why it was historical already, and what it is saying about the state of American society.

The blog post turned into an essay, an essay when I stopped typing that was already 5 pages long. No one sitting in their office cube can take that kind of time to read my blattherings, so instead, I offer the "nutshell" version on my thoughts.

-The nation is showing signs of a political realignment, this election cycle will either bring that shift to its apex, or grind it to a halt. My only proof for this shift are sadly opinion polls. The majority of Americans think the war in Iraq was a mistake, the majority want universal healthcare, the majority want action taken on global warming. Those platform positions were once left of center, they are now center.

-The nation is being forced to deal with two of its oldest and most difficult stereotypes. A black (bi-racial) man and a woman are running for the democratic party's nomination. This has forced the nation to deal with racial and gender stereotypes in a way it never has before. It is also informing us of the nation's embedded racial and gender biases. 8% of poll respondents say they would never vote for a black candidate. Hillary Clinton has endured vitriol unlike any other candidate in modern history because she is a Clinton? Or because she is a woman?

-These two candidates are "change" candidates in a change year. While voters seem to be making their decisions in reaction to leadership style, as candidates their policy platforms are inches apart. One of them will survive to battle Senator McCain. A man that embodies sacrifice of self for country, and what it classically means to "be American."

There are dozens of other points I could raise:
-The power of the Internet to raise money, organize and promote campaign messages
-Jeremiah Wright
-Clinton's tears in New Hampshire
-The power of demographic voting blocs
-The primary calendar
-The super tuesday myth
-The effect a bad president has on an election cycle
-The central reasons we are looking at these three candidates.

But as I said, this kind of essay would be longer than a blog can support and will likely be the subject of dozens of books over the next decade. Just take this point 10,20,30, years this is the election you'll be telling your children and grandchildren about. The way our parents talk about Kennedy and Nixon, or the Reagan revolution. This is an election for the ages.

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