History unfolds in this, a monumental election

In 1920, empowered by the 19th Amendment, women first exercised their right to vote. Forty-five years later, the National Voting Rights Act of 1965 expanded that right to accessible voting for all Americans, regardless of race. And here, in 2008, an African-American man, nominated for president, competes against a female vice presidential candidate.

“No matter who wins, it’s incredibly historic,” said Dr. Kathy Lee, chair of the political science department.

However, as with every great evolution of history, this progress does not come without opposition. While Barack Obama faces centuries of racial prejudices, Sarah Palin must struggle against the stereotypical suppositions concerning women.

But, according to some, the battles are not equal.

“There are more deep-seated prejudices about race than about the capabilities of a white woman,” Dr. Lee said.

According to a recent poll, if the election is close, Obama’s race could tip the election in Sen. John McCain’s favor. It is a fact that some supporters of McCain have used in their favor.

“Is part of the strategy to paint Barack Obama as ‘the other’?” Dr. Lee asked. “We want to feel comfortable with the President of the United States, and if he’s not American enough, we won’t.”

However, in a racially diverse Southeastern Pennsylvania community, we may easily overlook just how great of an impact race has in the election.

“We have the naivety to discount race,” said Nate Riedy, president and founding member of Eastern’s Political Awareness Club. “Less than 150 years ago, a teenager was learning that blacks were subhuman-slaves-and his grandchildren may be alive right now.”

Nevertheless, Sarah Palin also faces opposition, despite her family values, Christian ethics and appeal to the common American. Dr. Lee, who teaches Women in Politics, identified the double-standard to which the public holds Palin.

“We ask, ‘Can she be a good mom and be vice president?'” said Dr. Lee. “There’s an assumption there that she should be at home.”

However, according to sophomore political science major Tommy Francovitch, the initial reaction to Sarah Palin was just that-initial.

“We’re starting to get to the real issues,” Francovitch said.

There is no doubt that history is in the making. As prejudices abound on both sides, we may only cast our ballots on Nov. 4 and watch this historical election unfold.

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