Thursday, September 18, 2008

Getting to know history when it comes - and appreciate it

Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami Herald hit the nose on the head on what I was going to blog about the other day had I not been smacked around by a virus earlier in the week. His recent column discussed a lot of the rumors floating around about both Barack Obama and Sarah Palin.

I had hoped to get to know more about Palin, but so far a lot of what I've heard are rumors worthy of what had been spread around about Obama earlier in the election season. The early rumors about Obama had been mostly about whether he was a closet Muslim trying to deliver America to Allah and so forth, while the early rumors about Palin have been about whether Palin is some sort of religious nut-job looking to convert America into God's Happyland on Earth. See the pattern here?

Both are "historical candidates", thus, each candidate’s supporters want “their candidate” to be the one who makes history first. At the same time, critics on both sides are eager to NOT be perceived as criticizing their respective opponents "for the wrong reasons". That is, right wingers don't want to have their criticisms of Obama to be perceived as racist, while left wingers don't want to have their criticisms of Palin to be perceived as sexist - thus, the safe path is to question their religion. See, who says that religion doesn't unite?

Also, both sets of critics have sought out every jot and tittle, every little rumor, every little scrap of a bit of an item of information that seems to suggest in the slightest that their opponent's candidate isn't suited for the office that they're running for. It's really making a mockery of what should be a banner year for both African Americans and women, because for the first time in our history, we have a representative of both running for the highest offices of the land. And yet, instead of taking it all in, we are all reduced to petty bickering and shameless rumor-mongering.

One of these candidates is going to be making a historic entry into our nation's history as the first black president or first female vice president, and yet it looks like fully half of our nation's population are not only going to go away disappointed, but also bitter that their candidate didn't win. Disappointed is expected, but bitter is not good. Bitterness can lead to unpleasant actions, and unpleasant actions that don't need to occur. And that bitterness is also going to rob either Obama or Palin of their moment of reaching a historic high.

So, how do we prevent that bitter turn of events from occurring? How can we encourage all Americans to take in the historic moment without the disappointed half going away bitter? First, this pointless digging by both sides for every tiny scrap of dirt on both candidates and reporting on it as if it’s a shocking revelation has to stop. It’s stupid, and worse, it’s making both sides look like desperate idiots. It’s embarrassing, man.

Next, the debates have to start, and the sooner, the better. Not only that, there needs to be town hall meetings. We need to see all the candidates in more than one format – plus, town halls put the candidates face-to-face with the very people that they plan to represent. Not too much to ask, I think, for the candidates to see just whom their actions will be affecting.

Also, I’d like to see some of these town halls taking place on college campuses – and NOT just schools like Yale or Hahvahd! Go to colleges in the home states of all the candidates, from Alaska to Hawaii, from Arizona to Delaware, and all the points in between. Those folks are our future, and they deserve a say in who is going to lead them in the future.

And next, all the candidates – ALL the candidates – must stress repeatedly that, one way or another, a candidate is going to make history, and whoever it is, we must applaud their success, even if we don’t agree with their views. We WILL be witnessing history in the making in either case, and no one should deprive themselves of that special moment when it arrives. Before we are liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, or whatever artificial dividers we want to identify ourselves by, we are first and foremost Americans, and the swearing in of Barack Obama or Sarah Palin will be something that all of us should celebrate. Let’s try not to rob them – and ultimately, ourselves – of that special moment when it comes.

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