Get past the hype and look at the issues

Hillary Clinton is a woman.

Barack Obama is a black man.

Mitt Romney is Mormon.

Let’s have a moment to take all this in — now let’s move on.

Before and after Clinton’s, Obama’s and Romney’s announcements that they will run for president, the news media and public have focused on these singular aspects of the candidates. They’ve focused so much, it seems, that the gender, race and religion of the three have overshadowed almost everything else about them.

Being the first woman, black, Mormon or whatever president would be an accomplishment — we won’t deny that. Heck, having the American people elect anyone who isn’t a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant man to any political position is an accomplishment.

But, in the long run, if one of these people becomes president, we hope they are remembered for more than one part of who they are. We need to listen to what these candidates say so we can make informed decisions. The public, and more importantly the media, cannot get lost in the hype of a lone attribute.

Of course their gender, race and religion will influence their platforms. Such matters always influence political viewpoints, but these high-profile presidential candidates need to be judged by their words and actions, especially to make sure their actions match their words.

Hillary Clinton is a woman, but she is also a senator and former first lady. She has introduced legislation to Congress to help higher education students deal with their school loans. She has worked on bills that would provide more support to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families. She’s also supported programs that would allow more low-income families to gain access to health insurance.

Barack Obama is a black man, but he is also a senator from Illinois. He has been a critic of the war in Iraq and has introduced legislation that would set a time frame for a withdrawal from the country. He supported the increase of the Pell Grant limit from $4,050 to $5,100. He’s also worked on creating a Google-like search engine so the public can track where tax dollars go.

Mitt Romney is Mormon, but he’s also the governor of Massachusetts. He wants to make health insurance more available to Americans through market reforms. He is for the exploration of alternative energy sources, such as ethanol, biodiesel, nuclear power and coal gasification. He also feels the use of military force and diplomatic actions in Muslim nations will help end the war.

This was just a brief look into who the candidates are and what they support, but that has already taken us deeper than gender, race and religion. We won’t deny these are important to who they are. Their backgrounds and experiences have molded them into the people we read about in the newspaper and see on TV.

As we’ve said, electing a woman, a black person or a Mormon would show a significant change in American society. Being president alone is an accomplishment in itself. Being the first woman, racial minority or non-mainstream Christian president would be ground-breaking.

But we need to remember there is more to them than just a news story and an interesting fact.