"We're not ready yet," shared the party-goer. "We're not ready for a woman or a black president."
The statement stunned me. We were in heated conversation about the possibilities of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama as candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2008. The conversation was of mixed political platforms, but the sentiment seemed common.
"How about Condoleezza Rice?" offered another voice. "She's both black and a woman."
"We're not ready," hummed the room.
The adage, "If not now, when?" rang through my mind.
Are we honestly afraid of a woman or black man leading our country?
What belief system does this level of change challenge? In the case of a woman, the patriarchal model is obvious.
But this model is as outdated as the husband as breadwinner in this climate of two-income households and stay-at-home-dads.
Freedom and equal treatment under the law were hard fought by our ancestors, and tens of thousands died to ensure that our country would further blend its multiracial ethnicity.
How can it be that in this nation of pioneers, ground-breakers, inventors and changers-of-the-world that we have passed through 218 years of elected Presidents and all 43 of them have been white males? Unlike some of my friends, I think we are past ready for a change.
We've marched a long trail to build equality. While the manifest reality is far from the grand design, we hold to being one nation "with liberty and justice for all."
But why is it that white men still run the big show?
The argument that has historically been used to stall change in the head office is lack of experience. Not the "best person" for the job. But the political system continues to educate us that the best person is rarely the one who gets the job.
The power of the media overwhelmingly determines the course of our elections (not to mention our personal tastes). The development of a public face, political grooming and the ability to tap deep pockets for fundraising control who will and who will not get the nod for nominations.
And those who raise funds have an agenda. They have personal goals and/or platforms that they want to see put into play. Take the Political Action Committees, money raisers on both sides of the party lines, with both social and legislative goals, willing to raise and pour millions into candidates to forward their agendas.
These organizations, and those funders who fly under the radar (no one ever accused politicians of playing by the rules), utilize their cash and its power to buy mediaThese media outlets create stories — stories to make us believe. For isn't that what a political campaign is really about? A new belief system.
We want to put power into the hands of someone who will heal our ills. The end of a calendar year provides a perfect platform for exploring our fears, our personal challenges and taking steps for change. It's the season of resolution, and as we do each year at this time, we enter a period of reflection.
We explore and evaluate the passing year in terms of financial successes, personal achievements, work improvements and relationships. And as the eve of 2007 draws nearer, we explore what areas we'd like to improve.
For myself, I'd like to expand my dialogue with government, with what it means to be governed, and how my input into that system can be improved.
I'd like to make more use of the powers of democracy, the power that is based on equal voice for each individual, and I'd like to improve our collective dialog — as opposed to defending polar positions.
I'd like to say, that it is time for change. For isn't change, in all its shifting manifestations, the very nature of our continued ability to grow?
Catherine Cooper is a designer, writer and photographer.
Copyright © 2006 Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot