Saturday, October 04, 2008

Seeing Old Problems with Fresh Eyes

I am late in posting this but felt it was still a relevant aspect of the presidential campaign to remember:

For the September 15 edition of America, the magazine's editors penned an excellent editorial called "Young Americans" in which they praised a particular shared biography point of Senator Obama and Governor Palin:

What now seems like eons ago, the presidential race began with arguably the most diverse cast of candidates in our nation’s history. As we enter the fall stretch, the field includes an African-American and a woman, a heartening display of the diversity that is now acknowledged as a fact of life by most Americans. The ascendancy of both Barack Obama and Sarah Palin was unexpected, and in many ways they are unlikely representatives of their respective demographic groups. Unlike most African-American leaders of the last 40 years, Obama did not take part in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, nor is he is a descendant of American slaves. Palin is a pro-death penalty, pro-drilling-in-the-Arctic-Reserve member of the National Rifle Association and Feminists for Life. She has little in common with Hillary Clinton, much less with Gloria Steinem.

Perhaps because of their unusual biographies, both Obama and Palin have proved able to confront divisive issues and mend longstanding rifts. In a speech delivered on Father’s Day, Obama called for African-American men to play a greater role in their children’s lives, a neuralgic issue in the black community, and under his leadership the Democrats have started to bring some pro-life Catholics back into the tent. Sarah Palin targeted members of her own party suspected of corruption, and her rise to prominence is proof that the term anti-abortion feminist is not an oxymoron.

Much has already been made of the youth of these candidates (both are in their 40s) and their relative inexperience. Yet could it be that their youth is an asset, that it allows them to see old problems with fresh eyes?

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