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Minority status should be a minor issue in elections

Published: October 12, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.


Most of our grandparents would have scoffed at the idea of a woman or a black man as President of the United States. Yet, here we are in 2008, on the verge of the next presidential election, with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as the top contenders for the Democratic Party nomination.

Former U.S. senator and recent speaker at Brandeis, Carol Moseley Braun noticed this progress when she was a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination in the 2004 Presidential election.

People seemed more open about hearing what I had to say, Braun said, that was an important cultural development that an African-American woman was not looked at as an oddity but as a bona-fide candidate.

Even the Hispanic community is represented in the Democratic primary by New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, who is of Mexican descent. (None of the Republican candidates are women or members of a minority).

Is race and gender finally becoming inconsequential in a position of power notoriously dominated by white males?

If the 2008 election results in a female or minority President, it will surely be analyzed, re-analyzed and touted as a new age of acceptance for America.

However, the election of someone who adds some variation to our line of Presidents, is an event that has been a long time coming.

Despite Americas belief that it is one of the foremost countries in the womens rights movement, this is actually one arena in which the U.S. lags behind many other countries. This past July, India elected its first woman president, Pratibha Patil, while seven women have served as heads of state in Latin America.

Although similar numbers are not available for minorities elected to head of state positions other countries, it is time for citizens of every country to disregard whatever prejudices they hold and elect leaders solely on the basis of policy and initiatives.

If we can shift the focus of presidential elections from demographic categorizations to political views, we can reach a point when our grandchildren scoff at the idea of a line of presidents homogeneous in race and gender.