Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

Today is the big ol'merican election. And regardless of the outcome, it will be historic. On one hand, we have potentially the first black president, on the other, the first femal V.P.

When I look back with my children and talk about this day, it will be in a way they will not really be able to understand. When I was a kid, I really couldn't get the whole Kennedy thing, the whole Trudeau thing, but I understood that important historic things were tied into it. I don't think I understood that whole "I remember where I was when...." thing until September 11th. I remember where I was that day. Looking back on this day, I will recall that I was out at a Colin James concert, and when I got home, I found out that I had lived long enough to see the first black man to lead America, or the first white woman to...well...sorta lead America. I wonder which it will be?

At the beginning of this election I was a Hillary supporter. Still to this day, I wish Obama had chosen her as his running mate. Because I would have loved to been able to be writing this post, knowing one day I'd look back and say this was the day the first woman VP was elected and ALSO the first Black President. Alas, we can't have everything.

What seems like ages ago I was having a conversation with a very liberally-minded American friend. I was shocked to discover that at the time he was surely going to vote for McCain. He saw this as a vote for someone fit to lead a nation, someone with age and experience. I was truely shocked he wasn't voting Obama. In the months that passed, McCain really f*cked things up (in one determined flash) by picking Palin as his running mate. What at first seemed to be a genius move has now seemingly cost him the election (if polls are accurate, of course.) My friend is no longer voting McCain.

Such a shame, really, that a woman like Palin was picked. Not a woman who is more experienced, more capable, more professional, because they exist. The choice of Palin is confusing even to those who support their campaign. It seems, many pundits, bloggers and theorists agree (myself included), that this was McCain's election to lose. And he really seems to have done that with Sarah Palin. He really seems to have messed up his whole campaign, destroyed the reasons to vote for him, and distracted us so much from his own qualifications (by parading her lack thereof) that we now look to his party as a 'joke'. Is he making a scapegoat of her?

It is unfortunate that the first female candidate on a presidential ticket will likely be held responsible for the party's failure. It is unfortunate because much like Canada's first female prime minister Kim Campbell , Palin will not be remembered for any good work she did in her life, or the things she achieved (of which I am sure there will be more things than there are now, one way or another), instead being remembered for her failures, her shortcomings. Kim Campbell's failure to be properly re-elected is virtually all kids know about her. Will being a failed candidate be all kids know about Palin in the future? Even my cold liberal heart softens for this woman when I think, despite her lack of feminism, despite her stance on women's rights issues, she is still one of us. And I would like to see her succeed with some ounce of pride.

I recognize the importance for diveristy of race and culture in politics. It is sorely needed. However, I do not want to understate the importance of female participation in politics - women of all races - and the importance of those in power giving opportunity to women - not when they need a scapegoat, not when they need a distraction, not when they need a stunt ballot....but when they need a good leader and sound mind at the helm.

I want to look back on my life and say I lived to see a day that a woman could truly achieve anything she wanted to in life - even being the President. I wish that really could be a dream or a goal for a young girl, and not be a 'crazy' idea. I want to be able to tell my kids that I voted for our female leader because she was the better choice based on her skills and experience, not cause she was cute and "relatable".

I want to be able to tell them that we, as a gender, went from not even being 'people' and not being allowed to vote, to leading the nation, all within a century.

I hope most of all that this election has broken boundaries forever. Now it won't seem wild to have something other than white men on the ticket. That being black or a woman isn't something to make a news report out of, because it is so normal. I know it is possible. It is happening in other parts of the world.

My fingers will stay crossed.

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