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TRANSCENDING BOUNDARIES: FATHERHOOD AND THE 2008 UNITED STATES PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Maybe it’s me. Maybe this has been going on for a very long time and I finally caught on.. But there is something going on. What am I talking about? How many of you watched the televised proceedings of the 2008 Republican National Convention during the week of 1 September 2008 and the 2008 Democratic National Convention during the week of 25 August 2008? Did you notice anything, shall we say, “different” or “unusual”? Well, there was a lot of talk about Fathers and Fatherhood on both sides of the aisle. I have been watching televised proceedings of both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions for years and I cannot recall when I have heard Presidential Candidates or their wives talk about Fathers and Fatherhood. For what, to my knowledge, is the first time, Fathers and Fatherhood was discussed in speeches given by very high profile individuals at the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions. And this discussion of Fathers and Fatherhood which occurred at the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions not only demonstrates that Fatherhood transcends boundaries, but it also sends a clear signal that Fathers and Fatherhood have moved to the center of the national political radar screen.

On Thursday, 4 September 2008 in St. Paul, Minnesota, Mrs. Cindy McCain, the wife of Republican Party Presidential Nominee and United States Senator John Sidney McCain III, gave an electrifying speech in which she talked about her Father and shared some of the life lessons she learned from him.

Here is what Mrs. McCain had to say about Fatherhood and her Father:

“My Father was a true ‘Western Gentleman’. He rose from hardscrabble roots to realize the American dream. With only a few borrowed dollars in his pocket, a strong back and a can-do spirit, he built a great life for his family. His handshake was his solemn oath. He looked you straight in the eye and he always believed the best of you unless you gave him good cause not to. Modest and good-natured, he had deep roots in our American soil. He taught me life is not just about you - it’s also about nurturing the next generation … preparing a better world for all our children and helping them find the right way up . . ..”

On Monday, 25 August 2008 in Denver, Colorado, Mrs. Michelle Obama, the wife of Democratic Party Presidential Nominee and United States Senator Barack Obama rendered a powerful and soulfully riveting keynote speech during which she talked about her Father who, under the most excruciatingly challenging circumstances, empowered and strengthened his family and positively shaped the minds and souls of his children.

Mrs. Obama had this to say about her Father:

" . . . My dad was our rock. Although he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in his early thirties, he was our provider, our champion, our hero. As he got sicker, it got harder for him to walk, it took him longer to get dressed in the morning. But if he was in pain, he never let on. He never stopped smiling and laughing — even while struggling to button his shirt, even while using two canes to get himself across the room to give my Mom a kiss. He just woke up a little earlier, and worked a little harder . . .."

And on Thursday, 28 August 2008 at Invesco Stadium in Denver, Colorado, Democratic Presidential Nominee and United States Senator Barack Obama in his acceptance speech entitled, “The American Promise”, talked about “a renewed sense of responsibility”.

What does this have to do with America’s promise, our children, and Fathers? An excerpt from Democratic Presidential Nominee and United States Senator Barack Obama’s speech helps us to “connect the dots”:

" . . . And Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America's promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our "intellectual and moral strength." Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can't replace parents; that government can't turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need . . .."

Fatherhood. It transcends the boundaries of politics, culture, religion, language, ethnicity and economics. And Fatherhood has moved to the center of the national political radar screen.

D.A. Sears, Managing Editor
IN SEARCH OF FATHERHOOD(R)


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