Monday, June 16, 2008

Watching the Watchers: Primary Musings

The presidential race scene has calmed down a bit with the two main contenders chosen. Now, as we await the change from pandering to the base during the primaries to pandering to the middle for the general election, it's a good time to take stock of the events. No matter what you think about the Democratic Party's candidates, you have to admit the primary race was a historic one. A little known, relatively inexperienced candidate beat a heavily favored career politician... Right, that's not the bit people are writing about.

With a woman running against an African-American man issues of sexism and racism were directly relevant for the first time in a presidential race. As a result, we saw some of the worst of American attitudes on display. Reporters spoke of an 'Appalachian gap' to describe the touchy subject of people who judge the candidate based primarily on skin color. (Interesting use of stereotype, no?) Enough of the misinformation spread about Obama's history has taken hold that his campaign took the unusual step of directly addressing the lies. Clinton was criticized for the tone of her voice, Obama for his use (or lack thereof) of lapel pins. McCain was branded the old guy. And that was just during the primaries. The main event has yet to begin in earnest, so what will the real election hold for the candidates?

Politics is a dirty game, and we all know it. But mud slinging wasn't the only thing on display. One BBC commentator puts it this way, "Obama's nomination has achieved in one night what hand-wringing Bush diplomacy has failed to deliver in four years: a powerful signal that America still has the power to surprise and inspire." And no matter your political leanings, it's pretty hard to disagree with that.

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