During a segment on 60 Minutes a reporter was talking to group of prospective voters in Ohio and one of them expressed some doubts about Barack Obama. When the reporter asked him what those were, he mentioned the fact that Obama has his own belief system, doesn't know the Pledge of Allegience and has Muslim ties. The reporter responded that none of those things are true, but the voter said that that is what he had been told and obviously what he believes.
It pains me to think about the level of ignorance and bigotry that exists in this country when a ridiculous smear campaign can reach that level of "truth" in the minds of some people. That voter probably would never have voted for Obama to begin with and the whisper/smear campaign just allowed him an easy out. Opposing a candidate based on religious beliefs, while equally as bigoted as opposing a candidate because of race, seems much more acceptable, especially when it comes to the Muslim faith. Hillary Clinton faces the same type of bigotry on the trail, but people don't feel the need to sugar coat their opposition to her. Most will just come out and say that they won't vote for a woman for President.
The Democrats face an uphill battle come November, regardless of what the polls say now. There is a significant group of voters who will simply never vote for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. After all, she's a bitch and he's a nig... oops, sorry, he's a Muslim Manchurian candidate. The Democrats are banking on a flood of new, enthusiastic voters to offset the ingrained and substantial negative attitudes of many in this country. The original meaning of the famous words in the Declaration of Independence, ("All Men are created equal"), meant all white men, and there is still a group that holds that truth still to be very much self evident. Thankfully that group gets smaller every year, but it's not small enough for my taste.
Imagine what it would be like to wake up the day after the general election in November and realize that America had elected it's first non white-male President. It would say so much about how far the country has come. It would be a significant step to showing how far we have come toward fulfilling the ideal of America. We are supposed to be that "shining city on a hill", we are supposed to believe "that there is a placed called hope", we are supposed to think that we are guided by "the better angels of our nature". That is the dream that we have been asked to buy for so long.
I don't know the answer to the question of whether Obama or Clinton would be a better President than McCain, but no one does. If we allow fear and hatred to make that decision for us then we turn our back on everything that this country is supposed to stand for. I am not saying that people should vote for the Democratic candidate to prove a point. What I am saying is that each candidate must be judged on the merits and not pre-judged on their race, religion or gender. That really is all I ask. Is that so much? Judging by what I hear and read every day, apparently it is. I do hope that this election cycle will prove me wrong. I can hope that we have a fair and above board election. I can hope that the majority of Americans stand up and reject the politics of hate and fear. I can hope that this is the year' that we as a country' (as Dr. King so eloquently stated), "rise up and live out the true meaning of our creed".
I can only hope.