Author: Brett Fujioka
A majority of political commentators are preoccupied with President-elect Barack Obama’s historic win without giving pause to some of the shortcomings of Senator McCain’s presidential bid. McCain originally seemed like a shoe-in for the Presidency due to his experience in Washington, credentials in foreign policy and his record of reaching across party lines. In spite of this, a series of factors contributed to his crippling defeat.
Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin initially seemed like the ideal running mate. Both McCain’s aides and other supporters will deny this, but her appeal boiled down to her gender. With a minority opponent running for office, it was the only way of dominating the public’s attention. It was also a way of luring former Hillary Clinton supporters to their side, many of whom were more concerned with putting a woman in office than with the issues at hand. McCain was also a political moderate and required someone on the far right to cement his political base. Palin’s image as a down-to-earth Midwesterner gave McCain a chance to win over the working class. In spite of all these perks, she eventually held the McCain campaign down with her excess baggage.
McCain made the mistake of selecting a brighter star as his running mate. As a result, egos began to crash. What is steadily leaking to the media is that McCain’s aides scarcely had any control over Palin. She even had the gall to try and speak before McCain during his concession speech.
Much to the Clintons’ chagrin, snubbing Hillary as his running mate may have been Obama’s wisest choice. Hillary is more than qualified to become Vice-President, but let’s face it, she’s kind of a big deal. With her credentials, no one would blame her for ignoring the instructions of a junior senator.Unfortunately, McCain’s campaign equated “down-to-earth” with ignorant. McCain boasted about being at the bottom of his graduating class to chide Obama for being an educated “elitist.” I don’t believe that McCain’s an idiot any more than I believe that Bush is a genius, but bragging about your apparent stupidity isn’t the best campaign tactic. Choosing a running mate who created a persona that would make even George W. Bush blush was an even worse decision.
It was agonizing to watch Palin attempt to debate and offer oblivious answers to reporters. Americans had to endure a President who embarrassed his country with mind numbing gaffes for the past eight years. (I hope that the report that she thought Africa was a country, not a continent, and couldn’t even locate it on the map is just a rumor.) With Palin as vice-president, Obama’s warning that McCain’s presidency would serve as Bush’s third term seemed all the more believable. At the very least, she would humiliate her country in front of the rest of the world.
Rather than moping around, this is an opportunity for the Republican Party to gather its bearings and reform. Conservative pundit Michelle Malkin commanded her fellow Republicans to preserve their pre-existing platform on her Nov. 5 blog entry. She is also a very special self-hating Asian American who wrote a book justifying the Japanese Internment, and suggested that the government reenact the same order on every Arab and Muslim in the country.
This is the time for the Republican Party to move further down the center. Under the presumption that younger voters are more liberal, the era of the conservative evangelicals is over. Preserving their platform would be repeating the same mistake all over again. Rest assured, the Democratic Party is going to get drunk with power again and dig itself another grave. However, it’s doubtful that voters will trust the Republican Party if they refuse to conform to popular interests. Now that McCain’s down for the count, they’re going to search for a new representative of their party. God help them if they elect Palin as their next candidate.
It’s impossible to look at McCain’s defeat without remarking on Barack Obama’s victory. I’ve noticed that a majority of the people who are unmoved by his victory are unaffected by some of the social injustices resulting from racism. Even my minority friends who supported McCain celebrated Obama’s triumph because they understood the symbolism behind his conquest. It’s impossible for any minority not to look at Obama’s journey and see a bit of themselves through him.
Many white supremacists will cite his presidency as evidence that they’re losing the “race way” and fortify their resolve. This may prove true, but they’re also going to have to come to terms with the fact that a black man is smarter and altogether better than them. It wasn’t because he was born into his position and class that Obama was victorious, but because he fought, worked, and earned it to the end. Come January, Representative Geoff Davis, who once called Obama “boy,” will have to refer to him as Mr. President. Every racist in America will have to do likewise.
His victory further empowers both blacks and other minorities alike. African Americans have a new popular hero to idolize. This isn’t to say that there aren’t African Americans with high profile occupations like doctors or lawyers, but their jobs receive scarcely any media exposure. For once they have a hero who isn’t a rapper in blackface or an arrogant athlete, but someone who is self-made and promotes a positive image for his people. As journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates observed, for the first time blackness was cast “not as a problem but, potentially, as the solution”.
Critics will sneer and say that he will never live up to his goals. Of course he won’t. Only a deluded fool would believe such nonsense. How many Presidents have truly accomplished all of their objectives? He may not alter the inner workings of Washington, but his victory alone has changed the way the game is played and viewed forever.
Brett Fujioka is a senior ECLS major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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