Observers of contemporary politics, especially those who follow the high drama of presidential campaigns, are plagued by many questions. Most vexing, perhaps, are those concerned with the role of gender in public life. Why is testosterone the coveted elixir of political power? More specifically, what anxieties have made the ‘wimp factor' one of the most important variables in determining the outcomes of elections? First coined in 1988, this phrase…denotes a male candidate's deficient manhood. --Stephen Ducat, The Wimp Factor
The debate over abstinence-only education usually breaks down pretty predictably. On one side, you have social conservatives who claim, "Abstinence-only sex education is the only way to protect young people from unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and emotional turmoil. Sex is sacred and must be saved for marriage."
And on the other, you have liberal folks like myself who respond, "Studies actually show that abstinence-only sex education is less effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies and STIs than comprehensive sex education. Sure, teenagers probably shouldn't be having sex, but they are, so we better educate them to protect themselves."
Sometimes it seems as if Obama's light is so bright that progressives are being blinded. As we pump money into his campaign and sing his praises from office watercoolers to family reunions, we seem to be settling into a smug sort of mono-vision. So long deprived of a truly compelling candidate, progressives can only revel -- perhaps prematurely -- in the idea that they will finally get to be the big winners come November.
But what about the November four years from now? And the one after that? And what about the November when Barack and Michelle's daughter, Sasha, is old enough to run for president?
First it was my history professor friend from Indiana -- "We're heading to CA for a friend's wedding (and while we're there ... we're getting married, too!)" she emailed me, using an uncharacteristic amount of exclamation points throughout. Then it was a colleague from Austin -- "busy summer with planning a San Francisco wedding in July :) (hurrah for the CA Supreme Court)." Now it looks like Massachusetts will become the next summer vacation state of choice for gay couples looking to tie the knot; last Tuesday the state senate voted to repeal a 1913 law that kept out-of-state same-sex couples from marrying there.
Barack Obama's rejection of public campaign financing and his complex communication about his plan for Iraq have been lampooned on late-night shows, discussed at Sunday-morning roundtables, and ridiculed by right-wing shock jocks as yet another "flip flop" by a Democratic hopeful. But perhaps nowhere have these issues been hotter topics than in alternative media, from Laura Flanders' GRITtv to the ever pugnacious AlterNet.org, to youth civic blogs like Future Majority, where community organizer Biko Baker writes, "This week Obama has proven that he won't be right (no pun intended) on every issue. In fact after this week it's becoming clear that he is going to be wrong a lot more than we would like him to be."