Its been a time of record-making in politics. Democratic nominee Barack Obamas historic nomination acceptance speech, delivered on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.s I Have a Dream speech, brought in more than 38 million viewers. Last week was another historic week as Republican nominee John McCain selected the first woman to ever run as vice president on a Republican ticket.
Candidates like Obama who, before starting his campaign, were virtually unknown, usually experience quite a large bounce in the polls following their convention. In 1992, then unknown Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton enjoyed an astonishing 16-point bounce in the polls over President George H.W. Bush. But Obamas bounce was muted by the nomination of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as the vice presidential running mate.
During the Republican convention last week, Palin gave a speech that rivaled Obamas, bringing in just under 38 million viewers as she introduced herself to the American people. McCains speech brought in some 500,000 more viewers than Senator Obamas and the most recent Gallup poll shows McCain leading Obama by four points.
The Republican convention last week was anything but conventional. Hurricane Gustav barreled toward the Gulf Coast just as the convention was supposed to kick off. While Michael Moore and other liberal activists claimed it as proof of a God who wanted Democrats to win, Republicans used their convention as an opportunity to transcend politics and help with relief efforts.
On day two of the convention, President Bush gave a speech via satellite. This might have been surprising considering that McCain had made an effort to distance himself from the president whose approval ratings are hurting. Bush called McCain as an independent thinker who is not afraid to tell you when he disagrees.
However, the most exciting part of the week was Palin. During the five days following her nomination, she faced unprecedented criticism from the media.
But she is the perfect complement to McCain. Her conservative values will mobilize the Republican base, and her youth and charisma have energized the entire nation. Some claim that she lacks experience. But she has more executive experience than any other candidate. It should be troubling to Democrats to hear their candidate claim that running his campaign has provided experience for the presidency. Is that, along with being a community organizer, really the best hes got? I am more confident in Palins experience as mayor and governor to prepare her for the vice presidency than I am in Obamas experience, especially since he is at the top of his ticket.
Americans are ready for change in Washington. If we are going to get it, we have to put our trust in candidates who actually have a record of accomplishment and who are willing to battle corruption in either party.
Poole is a Wichita senior in political science and psychology.