Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Ultimate Emancipation

We Americans, as a nation, stand before our history’s ultimate test as roughly half of our population is to decide who will be the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in this year’s election. We have an opportunity, for the first time ever, to overcome old taboos and traditions and break the ultimate glass ceiling that stands in our way to become a truly United States of America, united not just within geographic boundaries but also by race and by gender.

We like to think hyperbolically of ourselves as the “greatest nation in the world.” And true enough, we have done some extraordinary things not only for ourselves but also for the world in general. At the very beginnings of our history as a nation, we have inspired the French Revolution, a rebellion against tyranny that set the world on a new track towards freedom and democracy. We have fought our very own to preserve the Union that would make us great. We have emancipated our African-American population who some of our forebears mistreated horrendously. We championed the worldwide Suffragette movement that emancipated women long suppressed by giving them an equal right to vote. We overcame our own racial prejudices by enacting legislation that granted equal rights for all people under the law and little by little made us a kinder and gentler nation.

We did all this and more. But one thing we haven’t done yet in our society. We haven’t raised the cultural barriers that prevented a black man or a woman from becoming president of the United States. Until recently it would have been unthinkable for either to aspire to become president of the mightiest country in the world. Whites would have rejected the idea of an African-American running for president, and most men would have rejected the idea of a woman becoming president and commander-in-chief of our armed forces. It would have been considered ludicrous. We kept telling ourselves that “the country wasn’t ready for it.”

Now, finally, our nation is facing a decisive test. We are about to see the ultimate emancipation in our country’s history. History would correct itself by putting Barack Obama in the Oval Office. Why Obama and not Hillary Clinton? It’s not because Hillary isn’t qualified. It’s because White America owes a greater debt to our black compatriots than to our women.

Sorry, Hillary. Next time it’ll be your turn.

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