Editor's Note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a member of the editorial board of the San Diego Union-Tribune and a nationally syndicated columnist. Read his column here.
Ruben Navarrette Jr. says Barack Obama and Sarah Palin are pioneering politicians who will transform politics.
SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) -- On the excitement meter, the winning ticket is clear: Obama-Palin.
For months, Democrats have swooned over a political celebrity who doesn't fit the profile of past presidents.
Though a great communicator loaded with charisma, he has little Washington experience, as you might expect from an outsider who promises change. And because change frightens people, he brings out the naysayers, some of whom resort to racism to attack his character.
Now, Republicans are swooning over a political celebrity who doesn't fit the profile of past vice presidents. Though a great communicator loaded with charisma, she has little Washington experience, as you might expect from an outsider who promises change. And because change frightens people, she brings out the naysayers, some of whom resort to sexism to attack her character.
A new poll finds that Barack Obama and Sarah Palin are, for their respective tickets, to quote Reggie Jackson, the straw that stirs the drink. With most polls showing the race tied, it looks like half the country is rooting for Obama and the other half is rooting for Palin. Joe Biden and John McCain are just along for the ride.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll found that, if Americans could cast separate votes for president and vice president, "Obama-Palin" would win. Palin would wallop Biden, 53 percent to 44 percent.
Obama would beat McCain, 49 percent to 48 percent, which falls within the poll's margin of error. Some will call this simply a case of Americans reacting positively to something new and different -- in this case, an African-American seeking to become president, and a woman vying for vice president.
Personally, I think there is more to it. I think many Americans know enough to understand how difficult it was for a Barack Obama or a Sarah Palin to get this far. If they don't, they're learning every time their candidate gets muddied. And, because they see Obama and Palin as underdogs, they'd like to see him -- or her -- succeed.
This historic race has made Americans realize how tired they were of the white male monopoly on party tickets. In the history of this country, only once have we strayed from the model of two white males running on major party tickets. Geraldine Ferraro's vice presidential bid in 1984 is the sole exception.
So it's no wonder that Americans get excited over a pair of individuals -- either of whom, if elected, could totally transform our politics.
I'm part of a tiny sliver of the American electorate -- an undecided voter who likes both Obama and Palin, applauds their achievements, welcomes the political earthquake either would represent, and thinks either would do fine if elected.
I've defended Obama against unfair attacks born of fear and prejudice where he has been held to a higher standard than others who sought the presidency. Recently, I've done the same for Palin, who has been savaged by the media left and attacked by condescending liberals -- an unpleasant species with which any independent-minded woman or minority is quite familiar.
What I didn't realize is that it must be written somewhere that you can't do both, that you have to choose -- not just on November 4 with the rest of the country, but right here and right now. It's not just our politicians who are divided up neatly into a red camp and a blue camp; it's also our pundits, columnists and commentators, many of whom fail to acknowledge the good in the candidates on both tickets.
Most of the recent criticism has come from the left as liberal readers confess they are disappointed in my defense of Palin. They use the same arguments against Palin that they brush aside when hurled against Obama by conservatives. And, for a group that likes to accuse their opponents of being haters, boy do they hate Sarah.
The reason is obvious. They have a lot of emotion, hope, and promise invested in Barack Obama's ascension to the White House. They're relatively confident that John McCain doesn't threaten their investment. But, they fear, Sarah Palin just might.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.
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