This election season has been a season of firsts for the major parties. From Sen. Barack Obama’s meteoric rise as the first African-American nominee, to Sen. Hillary Clinton’s stalwart battle in the Democratic primaries, which brought her incredibly close to becoming the first woman on the presidential ticket. These reasons appear to suggest that Americans are ready for a change – and that the White House is finally an equal-opportunity employer.

Add Gov. Sarah Palin to the mix as Sen. John McCain’s vice presidential running mate, and it sure that Washington will be led by either an African-American as president or a woman as vice president. With these choices on the table, many voters will base their decision on the issues of race, gender and even supposed parenting skills. Voters will also vote against candidates for exactly these same reasons.

The conservative persuasion is filled with elation over Sen. McCain’s selection of Gov. Palin as his running mate. But the reaction to Palin is one usually reserved for the selection of the neighborhood watch leader – that she is a good mother with family values. Surely Gov. Palin has accolades in politics, but the public and media tends to focus more of its attention on her role as a female and mother. McCain supporters determine that she’s qualified for office based on these factors that would seemingly qualify millions of mothers in this nation.
The media didn’t devote much attention to Sen. Obama or Sen. McCain’s fatherly or masculine duties — such as being a scout leader or soccer coach. By focusing on beauty pageants and PTA, the media is downplaying the important issues the country faces, not the least of which is the economy.

Sen. Obama has changed the face of American politics, and a substantial number of devotees to him have buoyed his campaign from the grassroots level. Among youth voters, Obama has a substantial lead in early polls. Many are attracted to Obama’s charismatic persona and have made reputation-make-or-break comparisons of him to former presidents John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln. These qualities of Obama make him appealing to many, but unfortunately many Obama supporters can’t give a solid reason in defense of why they feel so compelled to support him.

The goal is to give the power of voting influence to the candidates and the issues, not to menial trends and misleading stereotypes. In sum, what has the greater influence on the country after the election — the president’s race, looks, habits — or their foreign policy?

UVU Review suggests each member of the student body inform themselves on the issues surrounding the presidential election, and consider these to be the reasons to vote for a candidate. The election should not be a popularity, beauty or parental contest. It should be based around important issues to the voter, and the leadership the candidate can provide. UVU Review recommends the Web site for unbiased political coverage. The site proclaims to be a “nonpartisan, nonprofit, consumer advocate for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.” They “monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases.” Surely one of the most important elections in United States history ought to receive the correct attention it deserves.