Our Ailing Meritocracy: Merit takes second place to gender and religion


When all the political sophistry is said and done, there is no denying that the claim to fame of the Democratic Party's two superstar candidates, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, is that the one is a woman, the other black and from something of an "ambiguous" religious background (little wonder bland John Edwards stepped out, with the jocular yet true remark during January's CNN Democratic Debate that being white and male wasn't helping his cause). Clinton's and Obama's primary appeal, then, is that they are "minorities" - who, so the unspoken logic goes, must be in tune, domestically and internationally, with minorities everywhere, due to their own "diversity," and therefore must be open-minded and just. Yet, while diversity, multiculturalism, pluralism, et. al. are all well and good, is that all there is when choosing a president - when choosing a leader for our nation during these trying times?

Hillary can boast White House experience - eight years worth as First Lady, of being privy (except on a few occasions) to key presidential decisions being played out in the Oval Office. Still, it is very clear that Hillary's main appeal to democrats and liberals everywhere is, simply, that she is a woman. In that-and that alone-does she truly bring something new and unprecedented to the White House.

As for Barack (whose Arabic name, incidentally, means "Blessing"), it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where his merit or experience lies - aside from his reported "charisma" which apparently manifested itself in the 2004 democratic convention. But presidents - whose ultimate worth manifests itself behind the scenes, where many uninspiring yet momentous and consequential decisions are made - need a bit more than charisma and platitudes of "change." That said, does anyone doubt that Obama would have been able to come out of nowhere to represent the Democratic Party if he wasn't black and with a "diverse" religious identity/heritage? ...

Let no one be deceived, however. Favoring a candidate primarily because they are female, or because they are ethnic or religious minorities is absolutely no different than disfavoring a presidential candidate simply because they are female, or because they are ethnic or religious minorities. Prejudice works both ways. We are supposed to choose presidents based on their merit and the good they can do for our country - not because they are men or women, black or white, Christian or Muslim. We cannot be a society constantly preaching that race, gender, and religion are immaterial in the public and political spheres - and then simultaneously turn around and use race, gender and religion to win political support, though from another angle. Oprah Winfrey's unwavering support for Obama's presidential bid - primarily because he is black, as most political observers have noted - is absolutely no different than if a prominent white talk show host gave his unwavering support to a fellow white presidential candidate, for no other reason than their shared "whiteness." ...

At any rate, the question every American should ponder is: If race, religion, and gender are aspects that have no bearing in our society and should always be overlooked, why are they the defining characteristics of the democratic candidates?

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Posted by John Ray. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and for a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM

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