Saturday, January 26, 2008
The Media is playing the "race card"...not the candidates.
Barack Obama wins in South Carolina, but America is losing- and here's why:
I am writing tonight out of pure frustration, not because I am a Hillary Clinton supporter and Barack Obama just won a primary that he was expected to win, but because of the exhaustive media attention that's been given to race. Not the presidential race which is what we should really be focusing on, but the ethnicity of the candidates. I watched over two hours of election coverage tonight and 80% or more of what was discussed revolved around which racial segments of the population are supporting which candidate and how much of that support is contingent upon the ethnicity of their chosen candidate. It left me asking one question; Seriously?
Now, I fully realize that it would be irresponsible to ignore the aspects of race and also gender, especially when discussing a party whose base is rooted in support of minorities. However, there is a point, and we have gone far beyond this point, at which the way that the media is framing this discussion actually pushes us backward. This is an extraordinary time in American history; not just African American history or the history of the feminist movement. It is increasingly likely that the first African American or the first woman will be taking the village idiot’s place as President of the United States in 2008.
So why is the media insisting upon using this unprecedented step toward full equality as a source of division? I can't figure it out. Both during a recent debate and out on the trail, Obama and Clinton agreed to leave the topic of race behind completely, since it is the Democratic Party that has consistently stood up for minority rights, the fight to end poverty, and focused their efforts on improving the middle class and giving those want to achieve that status the opportunity to do so. Yet for some reason the media can't seem to understand that the American public is tired of the press holding a magnifying glass over something that does not address any of the major problems facing the United States. For several primaries now, the economy has been the issue that Democratic voters have cited as the most important in exit polls, with health care and the war in Iraq coming in second and third. RACE is not even on the list, so why is it being given so much attention?
I think it comes down to the fact that on achieving universal health care, ending the war in Iraq, stimulating the economy by eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans, creating blue and green collar jobs, listening to science (before it's the popular thing to do) like with global warming and stem cell research, providing benefits to same sex couples, reducing dependence on foreign oil and funding environmental programs, and so much more, the difference between the leading democratic candidates is very small. Agreements on policy issues are obviously not newsworthy enough or we'd be hearing more about them rather than this incessant focus on stigmas that this election proves we have achieved substantial gains in overcoming; racism and sexism.
Of course both still exist and the battles are not over. I am in no way trying to make light of these struggles. Women still make around 77 cents to the dollar compared to men and it's even less for black women. But what good does it do to put labels on the candidates? I think their physical appearances say enough on their own.
The truth is that male and female Democrats of all races are extremely pleased with both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama overall. Yes, this race is a fight, but it is a fight that will ultimately lead to a better America. I, and I’m sure Obama fans would agree, am glad that they are putting everything on the line. So much is at stake, and we can all sense the magnitude of this election. We may disagree on who we think is most qualified and most likely to create the changes that we all want, but supporters of both Clinton and Obama share the same desires....and it appears as though the prospect of true change is resonating with the American people as well.
Record turn out in all the early primaries indicates that the momentum going into the general election is with the Democrats. In fact, both Clinton and Obama lead in national polls when placed up against any of the leading Republican candidates.
It is undeniable that when faced with a hard decision-picking from two highly qualified, viable candidates with very different but equally notable strengths, that race and gender will play a role, but is time for the media to take the responsible step and stop forcing this mostly hypothetical rhetoric down the throats of voters. There may have been divides prior to all the news coverage, but they are widening by the second, and I, for one, have had enough of it. It is insulting to me as a as a Democrat and as an American, and it is a huge leap in the wrong direction for our country.