In November, We Will Make History… Let’s Do It Right!

Barring the unforeseen, in January 2009 America will have either its first black president or its first female vice president. Either way we will have made history.
For this writer, the 2008 national election has the main qualities of a great rollercoaster ride. For me it feels both exciting and scary.
Making history is always exciting, unless one is an utter coward. Come on, admit it. As we mark the seventh anniversary of the Nine/Eleven terrorist attacks, can’t you recall at least a bit of excitement blended with the shock, fear and sadness the attacks engendered? That survivors of tragedies experience a mix of relief, elation and guilt is an historical cliché, so commonly has it been recorded.
But Obama and Palin scare me, too. I put the odds at 50-50 whether one or the other will be our chief executive. If Obama wins, well then he’s in the Oval Office. If McCain wins, then let’s hope that brave old heart keeps beating for at least four more years. If not, well then…
Palin contended in her unforgettable convention speech that being mayor was like being a community activist, only with real responsibilities. Awe, c’mon, Sarah. Neither you nor Barack bore much responsibility until you became a governor and he became a senator. You will both end 2008 with only about two years of meaningful experience. (I don’t count the past two years in Obama’s column, since he spent it all running for president.)
These two political neophytes have been firing off some real zingers, while the two grand old boys on the tickets, McCain and Biden, have conducted themselves in a more restrained, statesman-like manner. Palin’s comparison of a hockey mom to a pit bull with lipstick led Obama to repeat the old saw that a pig with lipstick is still a pig. Personally, I think Palin is kind of cute. But never mind that. What fascinates me most at this juncture is how close Barack and Sarah are on the issue of big oil.
Obama says he wants to impose a windfall profits tax on the oil barons. He says he would invest this revenue in researching alternative energy sources. McCain commented that this was Jimmy Carter’s idea during the first oil crisis, which occurred in the Seventies, implying the idea was bad then and is bad today.
Now get this. On September 12th, “USA Today” ran a front-page story on Palin’s gubernatorial record to date. If you missed it the first time around, read it now: “This year, she rebuffed religious conservatives who wanted her to add two abortion restriction measures to a special legislative session on oil and gas policy, even though she supported the bills. Former aide Larry Persily said she didn’t want to risk offending Democrats, whose votes she needed on energy legislation.”
The newspaper story continued, “In her 21 months as governor, Palin has taken few steps to advance culturally conservative causes. Instead,… Palin pursued a populist agenda that toughened ethics rules and raised taxes on oil and gas companies.” So who is Sarah Palin, really? We need to know.
In 1984 Geraldine Ferarro was Walter Mondale’s running mate. Before becoming a Congresswoman, Ferarro was a teacher, a lawyer and a district attorney. She was also the first Italian-American on a major party’s presidential ticket. Mondale’s choice gave the Democrats a short-lived bounce in the polls. The bounce lost its momentum well before November. Reagan and Bush buried the Dems, amidst some nasty sexist and ethnic slurs. Some sexists derided the Democratic ticket as “Fritz (Mondale’s nickname) and T___s” Others impugned Ferarro’s reputation, suggesting her husband had Mafia ties.
Whatever else happens during the next month and a half, here’s hoping that neither racism nor sexism is permitted to play a role in the remainder of this campaign cycle. Enough about lipstick on animals of any sort, thank you very much. We voters need to understand, as best we can, what are the leadership qualities and policy positions of these two mavericks. Since there’s a good chance one or the other will, sooner or later, occupy the Oval Office, we need to get as firm a fix on them as humanly possible.
And that’s never an easy trick from a seat on a roller coaster, in the midst of all the fright and excitement.
[Jim Castagnera is the Associate Provost and Associate Counsel at Rider University. A collection of his columns is available at]


One Response to “In November, We Will Make History… Let’s Do It Right!”

  1. The citizens of Gardner, KS are currently working to recall two members of their City Council. The recall is tied up in the courts at the moment, but it should go to a vote in March of 2010.

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