Remember when the buzz word was “diversity?” Everybody and everything was diversified, meaning that the power elite admitted to the inequities in our system and a bunch of conscientious workshops and events were organized to address them?

Glad that all worked well and we are just one big happy national family now.

But, moving on, we have a new buzz word, and it’s called "change." Seems that everyone -- all the politicians, media and general populace -- is talking about change. And while we certainly recognize the need for a change in governmental direction, we have to ask what kind of change is all the chatter about? There is good change and bad change, and those concepts are constantly being redefined by both sides.

"Palin offers inexperience, cronyism, a small world view, religious fanaticism and major disrespect for our natural resources."

From our perspective, good change would mean having governmental leadership that has a real sense of and empathy for all members of our society, with a perspective that is inclusive in coverage and application. Are we asking for a visionary? Yes, indeed. But this individual must also be someone who can combine vision with a rational, intellectual and logical approach to national and international issues and have some clear ideas about those issues with viable plans for action.

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We avidly watched both the Democratic and Republican conventions. Well, the descriptor “avidly” probably applies more to the Dems than it does to the Repubs (or is that Repugs?) because regardless of how much fun the Repubs try to be, their humor is stilted with a tinge of sarcastic cruelty and moral superiority.

It seemed to us that once again the Republican party is turning back the political and cultural clock: clearly their focus on women’s issues is stuck somewhere back in time and not relevant to today’s young women; and no mention of any protections for our four-legged friends, the earth, improving the economy or health care and education or establishing a safer world with reasonable arms regulation.

And oh, did we mention women’s rights? Well, it can’t hurt to mention that issue a few times. Because after all, if one can discriminate against a major segment of the population such as women, then surely other more specific groups such as those of color or the LGBTQI population will fair far worse.

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And we just loved the display of those “proper” women who smacked of 1950s housewife ads (you remember -- vacuuming in a nice sun dress and high heels while loving every minute of it!?) in the attempt to balance the Dems’ presentation of real women who are strong, intelligent professionals by their own merit and have an earnest, inclusive regard for equity and fairness.

"We heard inclusive reference made to the queer community in nearly every speech presented at the Democratic convention."

We are well aware that there are women of financial privilege in both parties, but there seems to be a vast difference between those Dems who are authentically caring and sensitive individuals and the Repubs who are largely an extension of their male counterparts set out on stage, front and center, sort of like Dresden dolls.

Listen carefully and you will hear the swoosh, swoosh of the modern day crinoline dresses as they enter the spotlight -- or maybe that’s the sound of a vacuum in place of social awareness -- we aren’t always sure.

Let’s face it, is there really any comparison between a brilliant, well-spoken, Harvard-educated former First Lady who is a hard-working public servant like Hillary Clinton and a woman such as Sarah Palin, who is pretty much just one of the good ole boys?

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To be fair, Palin is a very attractive woman, smart enough, with a strong personality and no doubt a leader. But is she the leader, or co-leader, we really want to make decisions about our lives, our planet and our families? We think not.

Does that surprise you? After all, lesbians should like a woman who is the outdoorsy type, right? To us there is a big difference between enjoying (no, change that to loving and respecting) nature and the ability to field dress a moose!

"If one can discriminate against a major segment of the population such as women, then surely other more specific groups such as those of color or the LGBTQI population will fair far worse."

Even if we ignore her evangelical roots with a church that believes in LGBTQI reparation therapy, her anti-choice history and her apparent belief in her own divine right to rule (how scary is that?!), we can’t support someone who advocates the aerial murder of wolves and bears, bashing of baby seals and the disruption of pristine forests to drill for more oil instead of focusing on alternative energies that have actually been available for development for years.

And we notice that her lack of support for sex education and family planning in schools seems to have smacked her right in the face with the pregnancy of her teenage daughter.

The irony here is that for all the moralistic preaching we hear from the religious right about abstinence, they jump right on board in support of an “out-of-wedlock child” and the family, like this is somehow a good thing since she isn’t going to have an abortion. Ah, teenage mothers -- family planning at its best.

Or is it just breeding gone wild in the name of God? For those believers, please think back to when Jesus was purported to have said, “Go forth and multiply.” There were probably nine or 10 people on the entire planet (Yup, we exaggerate, but you get our point), and now we are facing dire environmental issues, mass starvation and all sorts of economic problems that could be resolved in part with a smaller population.

We say it’s time to stop with the glorification of the family and elevation of baby production to a level of mystical dimension and consider the realities of community and rational family planning.

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We recognize that politics is a game, and players are chosen based upon what fan base they can draw in for votes and eventual election. We are also aware that Palin is a good fit for Bible-totin’, arms-bearin’ family values folks (a generalized stereotype -- we are aware of that). But what we can’t understand is why those people don’t recognize when they are being pandered to and that politicians for the most part could care less about their real-life circumstances.

"It seemed to us that once again the Republican party is turning back the political and cultural clock."

Palin’s style of speech is mesmerizing and based in emotionalism designed to lead listeners right into a miasmic fervor that is neither rational nor real and replaces thought about ideologies with mob reaction based upon fear conditioning. She has been effective in taking the spotlight off of McCain and his shortcomings, but neither of them leave us with a positive plan (or any plan for that matter) for a better future.

We know that Dems are politicians too and can play the “anything to get your vote” game as well as anybody. But we are more impressed by the sense of real passion for justice that pervaded their convention crowd, as well as the candidates.

We heard inclusive reference made to the queer community in nearly every speech presented at the Democratic convention. In contrast we heard no mention of our existence by anyone speaking at the Republican convention. In fact, we observed cynical smirks and laughs at reference to equality issues.

We think that if our all-time favorite Sen. Ted Kennedy gets the big picture while fighting off a life threatening brain tumor, then the Republicans must omit us intentionally.

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A strong belief in social and cultural equality is no less than what we should expect from our elected officials, along with a cessation of the splintering of our population based upon personal issues of religion, race, ethnicity, and sexual/gender identity or orientation.

"We have a new buzz word, and it’s called "change."

We need leaders who will represent everyone and move our country forward in a comprehensive way that is inclusive as well as culturally sensitive, with a global awareness of the new world economy and instant communication. A formidable task indeed, but we must have leaders who do not put their own personal agendas above their constituency’s but rather consider the world stage when enacting policies and establishing laws.

We must maintain a separation of church and state and choose leaders who can do just that. Each of us has the right to worship as we prefer but not the right to browbeat others with our own belief system. Such examples of democracy must be reflected by the members of our governmental administration.

To us, McCain’s offerings are old fashioned and irrelevant. He will carry on the Bush administration policies, and if that doesn’t scare you, just take a look at our current economic situation. Palin offers inexperience, cronyism, a small world view, religious fanaticism and major disrespect for our natural resources.

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We would never think of telling you how to vote, but the choice seems clear to us. Even though we were disappointed that Hillary was not selected as Obama’s running mate, we know that Biden is a strong advocate for women and children as well as members of the queer community.

Together Obama and Biden offer hope and promise for the future, a better understanding of individual needs, a road toward peace through an improved world image and have become our new buzz words for change.

Helen Harrell and Carol Fischer can be reached at hharrell@indiana.edu and cafische@indiana.edu.