Thursday, May 15, 2008

Getting in the way of greatness

The current political race presents a powerful indictment of our country. Rather than focus on issues of policy we seemingly succumb to the maelstrom of our subtle (and no so subtle) prejudices. We analyze Clinton's sex, McCain's age, and Obama's race with aplomb. In corporate America, if someone raised these questions at an employee's performance appraisal he or she would be fired immediately. There are corporate laws protecting the rights of employees from this prejudicial nonsense. Reviewing job performance is about past, present and planned, future actions. Anything else is not pertinent to a job performance and is illegal. Not so in American politics. Thus we are pummeled by inane, inaccurate, and inappropriate information that should have nothing to do with our choice for a leader.

Perhaps we should vote blind. If all we saw was the record of the candidates' accomplishments and their ideas and policy suggestions without all the extraneous b.s. we could select a leader more on what they offered rather than vote against them because we were prejudice.

Years ago it was believed that women did not have the ability to play in the great orchestras. Though talented women auditioned for these positions the selection committees always found them lacking in some way. Only a few women successfully negotiated the gauntlet of auditioning. Finally it was suggested that all the musicians auditioning for a spot in an orchestra submit their resume without a name on it and audition behind a screen so the committee could not see them. The number of women selected to be on orchestras rose instantly.

How can individuals rise to greatness when their accomplishments and ideas are seen behind a veil of prejudice? If our primary concerns in a political year promote sexism, ageism, and racism the issues will be obscured and individuals who could be great will never be given a chance simply because they are different.