Friday, May 09, 2008

Black or woman?

The competition between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama pits a woman against a black man. Well, Obama is actually half-white (his mother was white), so maybe that makes him more palatable to the white liberal elite that is apparently supporting him. According to recent results, for example in the primary in N. Carolina, 92% of blacks voted for Obama. Assuming that includes black women, that means that they chose by 46% to 3% to vote for a black man over a white woman. What does that tell us about gender and race relationships?
It tells us that race trumps gender. Notwithstanding the very real issues that raise questions about Obama's suitability to become President (including his lack of experience, his lack of previous contributions, his Rev. Wright connection and his remarks about poor white voters being "bitter") he nevertheless can count on these two groups to vote for him, namely blacks and white liberals. That leaves Hillary with the white seniors and blue-collar white workers.
So assuming Obama wins the Democratic nomination, as he seems to be in a position to do, then it is quite likely that he could also win the Presidency. That's because those two groups, blacks and affluent white liberals, are likely to remain loyal to him whatever happens. The number of white conservatives and senior citizens probably cannot overcome them.
What is it about Obama that attracts these groups of voters, including the young vote. The blacks will vote for him whatever happens, they want to have a black man in the White House. Affluent whites liberals will vote for him because they want to assuage their feelings of having been the oppressors of blacks, and so feel a need to vote for a black man to prove how liberal they are. Also, many women will vote for him because he has charisma, unlike McCain. And many young white voters will vote for him because he is young(er) and represents "change", something they will support at all costs (as I probably would have done when I was their age). Only the white conservative middle and upper class haven't so far been engaged in the Democratic primaries.
On the issues (that seem to matter less than superficials like charisma, race and gender) there will be many liberals who will support him because he is the supposed bearer of the anti-war (Iraq) mantle. He is the most liberal candidate that will have been nominated for a long time, and also the youngest and least encumbered by a political past in Washington.
By contrast, McCain represents the old politics, experience, long years in Washington, support for war when necessary, and he's an old white man, neither black nor a woman. How retro can you get? But, from my jaded perspective he's the only real man running.


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