I'm a Pundit Too

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Equal Opportunity Politics?

Race, religion, ethnicity, and gender are all factors that are being put in play by the myriad of presidential candidates. The particular candidates are betting that their gender, or race, or religion, or ethnic background is the ‘X’ factor that will push their candidacy over the top. The majority of the Democratic candidates basically have the same set of core beliefs or positions. The same is true for the Republican candidates. Each campaign is looking for the one thing that sets them apart from the other candidates. Do these “classifications” really matter? Should they?

Will Italian-Americans flock to the polls just to vote for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani? Will veterans turn out in record numbers to vote for former Vietnam prisoner of war John McCain? Does the celebrity status of “Law and Order” actor Fred Thompson have enough power to propel him into the nomination? Will members of the Mormon church have enough sway to allow Mitt Romney become the first Mormon President? Will women vote for Hillary just because she is a woman? Will Hispanics feel compelled to vote for New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson? Does Barak Obama have enough support from African-Americans to become the first African-American President?

New York Senator Hillary Clinton is vying to be the first woman President. Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of former Senator John Edwards, has created headlines this past week by suggesting that Clinton is campaigning more like a man than a woman. It was an obvious attempt to convince women voters that she is not the best choice for President. The Clinton campaign is hoping that women voters will gravitate towards her because of her gender. One thing I don’t understand is that by following that logic, the men will then vote for a male candidate. In my opinion, the campaign strategy is insulting to believe that women voters only look at the gender but men vote on issues.

I believe the idea that African-Americans are going to vote for Barak Obama based on the fact that he is an African-American, or that Hispanics will pull the lever for Bill Richardson because he is Latino is just as insulting. The same holds true for Giuliani’s Italian heritage. Why does anyone believe that a candidate’s ethnicity qualifies or disqualifies them to be President? Isn’t that a bit racist?

On the Republican side, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has fielded questions about his Mormon faith. Aspersions have been made about Romney’s faith and polygamy. First of all, I find it interesting that for all of the polygamy talk, Romney is one of the few Republican candidates that has been married only one time. Secondly, there are many other issues to consider before a candidate’s religion comes into play.

In the workplace, employers are required by law to overlook a person’s race, religion, gender, and many other factors in regards of hiring them for a job. In politics, many candidates are asking us to take a closer look at them because of these same characteristics that we are required to overlook in everyday life. Martin Luther King Jr. wanted an America where all people were judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. I am sure that he would agree that the candidate’s character is more important than their race, religion, or gender. You can make your own decision as to who to vote for in next year’s election, but I hope that your decision is based on more on character and issues than religion, ethnicity, or gender.

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