Sunday, February 24, 2008

2008: An Historic Election?

As a chronic multitasker, I seldom pay close attention to partisan political coverage on television, except for the real deal on Comedy Central. One thing I have managed to hear, as I'm reading or knitting or researching or writing, is the phrase "historic election year," over and over again, for months on end now. Each time I heard it, I'd mentally nod in agreement. Yes, this truly is an historic election year, and it feels good to be a part of it.

Before I make an astonishing confession, please bear in mind that I was only half-listening to said pronouncements. I consider myself to be politically aware and reasonably intelligent. What's more, I'm not blind.

Now to my confession: For the longest time, I was not consciously aware that the talking heads were referring to the whole race and gender thing when they were using the word "historic." Honest. I'm not kidding.

And here's why I was unaware: I consider this to be an historic election on so many other levels that race and gender didn't even factor in to my assessment. That's not to say that turning the reins over to a different race or gender isn't a significant milestone; what that is to say is that I've gotten so accustomed to the possibility of having a female or black president that I don't give it much thought any more. And I know I'm not alone.

Here are all those other factors that make this an historic election year:

  • Independent voters' concerns are finally being taken seriously, with some major candidates, like Barack Obama, listening carefully to us even as others, like Hillary Clinton, dismiss us as annoying pests at a picnic.

  • We have a more engaged electorate than we've had in recent memory, meaning my memory.

  • Not only is the electorate more engaged, the electorate is actually doing stuff, like voting in primaries and participating in caucuses. Except for independents in closed primary states, that is. We just find other stuff to do, like hammer away at the need for political reform, starting with open primaries.

  • After seven-plus years of President Bush, even Republicans are ready for a major change. I can't ever remember a time when the party in the White House was so relieved to see the resident of the White House get ready to move out.

  • Evangelicals are no longer walking in lockstep with the GOP. Of course, many evangelicals never did, but you can't convince the media and non-evangelicals of that.

Help me finish this list. What are some of the other factors that make this an historical election year?


Anonymous said...

Don't miss the obvious - an open election on both sides, with no incumbents hanging around to shut down a party's nomnating process before it really starts. When was the last time we saw both parties struggle through wave after wave of candidates, platforms, and uncertainty?

Marcia Ford said...

You are absolutely right! No incumbent! Thank the good Lord for that. It's been so long I forgot what it was like to have a no-incumbent election...