Herewith, an observation from a lifelong feminist – a timid and tentative suggestion because, lacking the appropriate chromosomes and elastic fixtures, I should probably speak no more for the female experience than for the black. Taking my virtual life in my hands, then....
Feminism is a single issue, an issue like religion, the environment, or ethnic justice. Affecting more than half our citizens, it is second only to environment in its universal importance. Nevertheless, feminism is still a single issue, and single-issue politics has, over the past 50 years, changed our republic from a group of communities into to a battlefield dotted with armed and fortified camps. Historically, those communities cooperated imperfectly and some were excluded completely from influence and even simple justice; but the concept was there (remember the quaint phrase "melting pot?") and we carried out our civic business, foreign and domestic, with unquestionable success overall, even admitting glaring areas of failure.
But now, single-issue advocacy is, at best, impeding our social processes, and, at worst, justifying criminal behavior (the right-to-life extremists) or shooting our nation in the foot (the Green derailment of the 2000 Gore election).
Whatever else his policies, Senator Obama's fundamental message is that we cannot pull out of this national mess unless we rise above single issues. No matter how pressing they are, no matter how long they've been fought for, no matter how right their values, single issues have divided us almost fatally. Obama does not want us to ignore these issues or demote their civic importance, but he does want us to focus on the critical problems that all of us face alike, problems that we must solve together and solve now, or else watch our beloved country fall to pieces.
In doing this, we can reassert the goals of our Founding Persons: to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. And, I would add, to revive the broad collaboration essential to reaching those goals. To succeed, we cannot think first as feminists (or greens or Christians or...). We must start thinking as Americans.