Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Historic Day in America

This is a blog about books and writing, music and film. Not politics. But I also love history. I hold a Bachelors and a Masters degree in history. History has been a passion of mine for most of my life. My first novel was an historical mystery with Harry Truman as the main character. I was born in the historic year of 1968. History is in my blood. So you will allow me a non-partisan comment on the historic event of today.

Today, an African-American man, Barak Obama, secured the nomination of the Democratic Party for the office of President of the United States. Regardless of what you think of him or his ideas, whether you love him or hate him, just ponder the mere fact of this achievement. Additionally, whether you love her or hate her, remember that Obama defeated Hillary Clinton, a woman, for the nomination. Historic.

In 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the words "all men are created equal." For the past 232 years, we have been trying to define what the word 'men' actually meant. Originally it meant "white, land-owning, adult males over 21" and we spent four score and seven years taking away the hidden adjectives. Since the Civil War, we have added hidden adjectives to the list: African-American men, all women, 18-year-olds.

The Constitution states the minimum qualifications to be president: natural-born American who is 35 and has lived in the US for 14 years. That's it. But for the past 200+ years, really, the qualifications, the hidden adjectives, have been "natural born white male over 35."

What this campaign for the Democratic nomination has done is to remove two hidden adjectives: white and male.

Oh, and if you love historical ironies, remember this: on August 28, 2008, Obama will accept the nomination of his party for President of the United States. August 28. Does that date ring a bell? It should. Obama's speech will be 45 years to the day that Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.

History. Fascinating, isn't it?

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