Now that Obama has essentially become the Democratic nominee and we’ve been through all the accusations of racism and sexism throughout the Democratic primaries, I have to say that I really think this presidential race will be fair (mudslinging will occur on both sides, of course), but people will invoke race as a deciding factor no matter how the election turns out.
- Yes, there will be people voting for Obama mainly because he’s part-Black. These would be Black people wanting some more representation or people of all races wanting a historic breakthrough of the racial glass ceiling in politics.
- Yes, there will be people voting against Obama mainly because he’s part-Black. These would be honestly open racists or people (Geraldine Ferraro, for example) who think Obama got to where he is now only because he’s part-Black and will use the excuse of McCain being better for the job.
- And then you’ll have people who will honestly vote for whomever they think is the better candidate or the lesser of two evils, and race won’t be a major factor in their decisions.
But regardless of the outcome, the media and bloggers alike will say race was the big thing that determined the outcome. If McCain wins, people will say “Even though Obama made great strides in being the first Black presidential nominee, America isn’t ready for a Black president” or more blatantly, “It’s still a White man’s world, and America is still racist.” If, however, Obama wins, people will say (and I’m sure Geraldine Ferraro will be the first in line) “Oh, he won just because he’s Black and got more media attention than McCain did for the past year. This is affirmative action at the highest level of politics” or “White liberal guilt has beaten out blatant racism.”
In other words, no matter to what degree race actually is a factor in people’s decisions as to whom to elect to the presidency, the media and most bloggers will think the decision was all about race.
Isn’t that insane? I think it’s insane. Barring the much-hyped potential “dream ticket” (if Obama chooses Clinton as his running mate, and she accepts the choice), I think race will actually have very little to do with the actual outcome. I think the pro-Black candidate voters will cancel out the anti-Black candidate voters, leaving the people who vote on issues or along party lines to decide the election.
If the first part-Black or Black presidential nominee was on the Republican side of things (say, Colin Powell), things would be far more interesting. I traditionally vote Democrat, but would I vote Republican to give the US its first part-Black or Black president? That’s not the case, though. In this case, the people most likely to be caught in such a bind are liberals, and so would more likely vote Democrat anyway. And most Republicans I know (not all, of course) are staunch believers against affirmative action or perceived affirmative action of any kind, so having the Republican nominee be a White man also poses no dilemma. As usual, most voters will vote along party lines. Republicans will vote Republican. Democrats will vote Democrat.
We have to stop attaching significance to sample sizes of one. When we do that, we create self-fulfilling prophecies. If you keep saying, “Clinton lost. America clearly isn’t ready for a woman president [or America is still too sexist]” enough, then it’ll come true. Most people will not vote for another woman candidate, because they’ll fear she won’t win anyway. If Obama loses to McCain and you keep saying, “Obama lost. America clearly isn’t ready for a part-Black president [or America is still too racist]” enough, then that’ll also come true. Most people will not vote for another part-Black or Black candidate, because they’ll fear she or he won’t win anyway.
I realize this presidential race is racially charged, but please don’t make race the only player in this game. It’s in the room, but it’s not the elephant in the room. Everyone knows it’s there. Let’s start talking policy and platforms here, people.