Wednesday, January 31, 2007

symbolism or anything more deeper?

Mrs. Clinton announced her intention to run for presidency and the media is all over her. The same with Mr. Obama's announcement. The very possibility of a woman or maybe a non-white male ending up as the president of the world's most powerful country is awesome news .. somehow!  I say, it is high time.

Why is the US so obsessed with the new crop of candidates? Leaving out developed western countries which have had women run their government, even developing countries and some of them even Islamic (Bangladesh and Pakistan) have had women leaders.  India has had its minorities represented at the highest level of elected office.

By no means I am saying that the women (or for that matter minorities) in countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan are better off than their counterparts in the USA. These countries have a long way to go before they can ensure a mature society where everyone has a fair chance of living a good life.  But, it does bother me that US has not had a person who is a non-white or for that matter female as their leader on the world stage.

Sometimes I justify my conundrum by telling myself that it is just symbolic that these other countries have had women reps while the US does not. And, that women (and minorities) in the US have the best possible opportunities, and for some reason politics does not seem to be an arena where they excel.  Somehow, a rep from the majority seems to be the most appropriate person everytime around.

However, off late, I have begun to believe that these groups just do not have a strong political voice in this country.  How else, can you justify the Government's response to Katrina and inaction following the slow pace of reconstruction in that region!  These groups do have a voice in all other arenas except "political".  Women and African-americans run businesses (however, and of course they seldom become CEOs). 

This country has a reality which makes us believe that everyone gets a fair chance - the symbolism indicates otherwise.  I am sure, people who do not agree with my opinion will show me evidence of thousands of career women and minorities leading the charge in the economic sphere.  However, as for me, I still want symbolic proof - something like at least half of all CEO's in the fortune 500 being women or at least 12% of them African-american.

I want Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama to win, not because I am blue, but because it will reiterate my faith in the true "freeness" of this country.  I want to believe that this country does stand for its minorities and will elect one when the right time arises.  I think it is time.

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