Home / U.S. Presidential Politics Will Never Be The Same

U.S. Presidential Politics Will Never Be The Same

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On August 29, 2008, the presumptive Republican Presidential candidate announced a decision that will have a lasting impact on U.S. politics. By announcing Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, Senator John McCain assured that one way or another, the American people will be establishing a new precedent in November.

The Democratic National Convention had just finished demonstrating to the world that large numbers of people are excited to support the first major-party black Presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama, when the whispers grew in intensity and volume. Although the timing is clearly intended to steal attention from Senator Obama, the announcement would have changed American politics whenever it was made.

On November 4, 2008, U.S. voters will either elect the first black President, or the first female Vice President. Now fast-forward four years, or eight, or twenty: how do you credibly propose a party ticket with two white men?

Although this is the sort of thing that drives radio talk show hosts crazy, the politics of Presidential nominations just became more complicated. White men cast just over one-third of all votes in 2004, and yet made up 100% of the candidates. In 2008, white men make up half of the candidates, much closer to their representation among voters. In 2012 and beyond, the question won't be whether or not each party will include at least one candidate who isn't a white male, but whether they'll include a white male at all.

Senator Barack ObamaGovernor Sarah PalinNovember 5, 2008, one party or the other will lose. Some will certainly suggest that the loss is because Governor Palin is a woman, or because Senator Obama is a black man. But one party will win, and the election is likely to be a close one, so gender or ethnicity cannot reasonably be blamed. In every two-party race, there is one winner and one loser.

It may take a few election cycles for everyone in the leadership of both parties to realize that things have changed, but I think it incredibly unlikely that any ticket with two white males will ever win the highest U.S. offices ever again.

It is a good time to be alive and observing U.S. politics.

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About pwinn

  • StalkExpress

    McCain should have done a simple web search and he would have found this local news report on the Palin TrooperGate Scandal.

  • And voters should do a comprehensive web search and read all the facts before jumping to conclusions.

  • Gosh, StalkExpress, when you say that, it makes it clear that Governor Palin is completely unacceptable. You know, just like the DNC did a simple web search and found all kinds of reports on Senator Obama, and therefore passed on him, or… well, I suspect most people get the picture.

    Aside from being scurrilous, your comment is also off-topic. Pick an article in which someone raves about Palin to attack Palin. I’m raving about a moment in U.S. politics that we’ve never seen before.

  • Clavos

    Nice piece, Phillip, very even-handed and non-partisan; a rare bird on these Politics pages.

    It is a good time to be a US political observer, isn’t it?

    Thanks for the read.

  • An important observation, Philip. The current situation can only be good for the political future of the country. It lessens the despair at least a little bit.


  • An important moment to take notice of, Phillip, I agree entirely. It’s too bad that people on both sides are focusing more on the negatives (and the character assassination) than the positives. Palin certainly has a couple of viewpoints I find myself diametrically opposed to (plus, I’m, ya know, voting for the other guy anyway), but this election year will undoubtedly change the face of things going forward (no matter who wins the election) and that can only be a good thing for everybody.

  • I just can’t get over how far we’ve come since 1984. I remember that election, and remember some of the things that went through my head with Geraldine Ferraro was nominated, to my shame.

    In this case, I’m fine with either Senator Obama in the White House or Governor Palin in the Naval Observatory, and I’m really excited by the idea that more people might be more inclined to vote in the future, and that that we can finally tell *all* children that “you could grow up to be President” without crossing our fingers behind our back.

    Simply amazing.

  • I’m also looking back to ’84 and at the time I had no problem with Ferraro as a nominee, but I have to say that the Mondale/Ferraro ticket was far less appealing than Obama/Biden or McCain/Palin, and at least in part because as the election went on it became clear that Ferraro was just a rather unpleasant person. She added nothing positive to Mondale’s bland and unapealing personality. I think that America might have been ready to elect a woman in ’84, just not her.