The Democratic primaries are finally over
As I sit here writing, Obama is just 9 delegates short of winning the primaries. This is the first time in my relatively long memory that every state and the territory of Puerto Rico has played an important part in the primary process. Usually the primary count is over hardly before it’s begun as was the case with this Republican nomination, leaving many states with no voice or choice other than to ratify what had already been decided by earlier primaries.
This is not only an historic moment because the Democratic party elected to support two superb minority candidates–one a Black American and the other a woman–but because every Democratic primary voter played an important part in the decision process. Through their votes every Democratic voter had a chance to state their views and concerns.
Only forty years ago Black Americans were being murdered and hung because they wanted to exercise their Constitutional right to vote. Something like thirty years ago, the first woman was elected to the Senate. Heck, I remember in the late 70s being told women didn’t have the intellectual and emotional prowess to be leaders; that we women were all subject to the emotional vagaries of our hormones and, therefore, couldn’t be trusted to lead any organization, public or private. I remember my female colleagues and myself being turned down for important promotions for no other reason than because we were female. Fortunately, times have changed in the minds of most Americans. And it’s well past time!
But now comes the time to heal the wounds that many, especially in the far-flung and new media, have fostered. I hate to say it since I was once, a long time ago, part of that third estate. But over the last ten to twenty years the consolidation of news corps into existing mega-corporations has caused a distortion of the traditional, honest news reporting. We really no longer have news concerns reporting what occurs, but news corps stirring up controversy, even where none exists. We now have individuals acting as reporters, posting video clips on web sites such as U-Tube without providing all the background or details. The job of a professional reporter is to provide the complete story with all the background and details. To provide a comprehensive story. We don’t appear to have that professionalism anymore, except on rare occasion.
Instead, all we have are biased commentary masquerading as news and short video clips, all designed to incite controversy. Because controversy is what America wants. It’s what sells. When the early TV news broadcasters, such as Edward R. Murrow, came on the air in the late 40s and 50s, they spoke of TV as the greatest educational advancement in the history of the world. But that educational opportunity, by and large, is gone. It’s given way to ratings and corporate profits.
I wonder, are we back to the bad old days when news companies, like that of Randolph Hearst’s, ran stories that were provocative enough to create events? If Hearst had not been so zealous in his attempt to sell more papers, he might not have been so anxious to create an incident in which the US was dragged into a war.
Nevertheless, the primaries are finally over. It’s been a long, long road to this portion of the end. The end, though, is actually at the national convention, but as we all have learned over the last twenty years the convention is not much more than a reiteration of the delegate vote.
I remember when JFK was nominated. I was just a few months shy of my twelfth birthday. That convention was really exciting. No one knew as a certainty who would be the final candidate or what the final platform would be, even though JFK was the presumptive candidate. I really felt like I was watching history being made. But like everything else, time and the media have changed how events play out.
I’m looking forward to the end of this lengthy process and hoping for better debates and conversations than has existed over the last twenty years on the issues which separate the Republicans and Democrats.
Of course, I have my own views. A week or so ago, I was reading some historical sites and watching PBS on the late 19th and early 20th centuries. What I found profoundly interesting…and amusing…was that the arguments listed by the Republicans, particularly against FDR’s policies during the Great Depression, were the same then as now. Exactly the same rhetoric now as then. It’s as if time stood still for Republicans at 1910, and the last 100 years of innovation and change had not occurred.
But the world has changed. After 1945, the American middle class didn’t just come into being, it grew, educated itself as a result of the GI bill and the expansion of affordable state colleges, and created whole new innovative technologies that often in part were paid by Federal agencies. Without the policies begun by FDR, our country’s rapid technological changes may never have occurred. That is the same kind of innovation and change that I see the new breed of Democratic leaders bringing to America.
At 3:30 this morning I woke up and turned on CSPAN to listen to the U.S. Economic Summit. Each of the business leaders spoke to the same issues of competitiveness: improving our educational system with better teachers, teacher pay and incentives, and funding systems; improving our trade agreements to equalize the playing field; improving health care delivery and cost systems to enable US companies to be more competitive in a global economy; enacting a long term, well thought out energy policy; developing an immigration policy that encourages foreign students to remain in the US post graduation; and developing a comprehensive, economically sound policy for dealing with global warming.
We can’t stop globalization, nor should we try. It’s a fact of life. But with the right kind of leadership in Washington–leadership that is not adverse to Science and Technology–we can once again become leaders in the world’s economy. With the right kind of leadership in Washington, we can reduce the enormous drain of health care to our GDP to match or better the 3 to 10% spent by other countries rather than the 20+ % we spend. With the right kind of leadership in Washington, the states can come together to elevate the quality of education from community to community and state to state so that kids graduating from high school know how to write a complete sentence; can calculate percentages; know a foreign language, understand world geography, history and cultures; and can figure out the intricate details of math and science. With the right kind of leadership in Washington, we can once again provide affordable college educations to anyone capable of passing the entrance exams. With the right kind of leadership in Washington, we can fund research and development of new sciences and technologies. With the right kind of leadership in Washington, we can negotiate trade deals that are fair and equitable for all concerned parties. With the right kind of leadership in Washington, we can enact the regulations that prevent economically disastrous speculations.
Instead of thinking in terms of the 19th Century, we need the leadership in Washington to think in terms of the 21st Century. We in Silicon Valley and the other technology centers across the country understand that necessity, but those voters in other areas of the country where people have seen their jobs and livelihoods disappear and no new companies taking up the unemployment slack fear this brave new world of competitive globalization. We need the kind of leadership in Washington that remembers these people and helps them with economic development and retraining.
It won’t be easy. And there are no free lunches. But if we’re courageous, we can succeed. There is nothing we cannot do if we have the right kind of forward thinking, fair thinking, and honest leadership. I think Obama is the kind of honest, down-to-earth, thoughtful, and pragmatic leader who can bring that kind of leadership to Washington.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m tired of one kind or another ideologue running our country’s finances and policies. I want someone who knows how to weigh both sides of an argument and determine the best course of action. I suspect, beneath all the fear and rhetoric, that is what all Americans want.