There's an article this morning in USA Today that provides a great vehicle to discuss something I've been thinking about for some time. I've mentioned it to some of my friends and family, but haven't blogged about it. The article discusses some possible presidential candidates, and focuses on the Democratic ones.
Naturally, two of the most talked-about candidates -- both in this article and in the general buzz around the internet -- are Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. I think either would be a fine choice, though it seems like Obama could spend some more time in the Senate getting some experience. The biggest problem I see with the candidates is that I think there are still too many people who would vote against them for being a woman and an African-American, respectively. Sadly, I just don't think the country as a whole is past getting hung up on that just yet.
So, what to do? Well, I think there's a good way to knock this barrier down a few notches, though not in time for the next election. Here's how it works. To begin with, it's all about being publicly and vocally vague. By that, I mean the candidates should continuously talk about how they're thinking about running, form their exploratory committees, and all the rest.
But they should have no intention of running in 2008 -- and they should, at the last minute, announce there will be no candidacy.
The point is to get people talking about it, to get them to face the possibility that a woman or a black man could be the president. You see, I think there are a lot of people whose minds will never be changed, but there is a whole other block of people who just need to get used to the idea. Creating buzz allows that to happen.
I don't think you'd have to worry about people backsliding (at least not because of ethnicity or gender) because to do so would slide the person dangerously close to racism and sexism. Nobody -- even people who are -- don't like to think of themselves as racist or sexist. I think this would serve to hold attitudes a bit. Of course, people could always come up with pretextual reasons for leaning against a candidate, but those are probably the people whose minds won't be changed anyway.