From the comments this morning:
I wouldn’t vote for Obama because I don’t trust him. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t vote for another person of African descent. For example, I would have no problem with Condi Rice.
So, what about the 95% of black voters who check the Obama box? It’s obvious that they are voting for him solely because he has dark skin. Or don’t you feel comfortable discussing that i[s]sue.
It’s true that the African American vote is going heavily to Barack Obama. Since the question has come from a post about white bigotry in the Democratic Primary, I see this as a fair question.
But it’s an apple:orange.
What we have is whites who say they won’t vote for a black person because he’s black vs. blacks voting for a black person who have voted for many many white people in the past.
It’s just not the same thing.
In fact, looking back over the last several elections in my memory, I can’t recall statements from black voters about how they wouldn’t vote for Candidate X because he’s white. Nor have I heard much about campaign workers being berated about their honky candidate when making calls to the black community. And I suppose it’s possible that some black people made bomb threats to a white candidate’s campaign headquarters and I just missed it…. but I kinda doubt it.
For that matter, I don’t recall hearing any of this from black people about white candidates during this campaign season, either.
The Obama candidacy is a first in many ways — not least in that it challenges whites in ways they’ve never been.
Just as interesting (to me) is how this is all going on during the Democratic primary. After all these years hearing about the GOP as the party with racial issues, I find the entire situation somewhat ironic. And highly amusing.
Folks, we’re talking about voting patterns in a contest in which two candidates have somewhat different philosophical underpinnings but very similar policy proposals. So while there’s certainly a little bit of daylight between them on policy, it’s a very teeny sliver. As a result, people are into the third? fourth? layer of decision-making, and for a lot of Democrats, apparently, this primary has been a beauty contest.
Lots of women are voting for Hillary based on gender… but there’s a not-insignificant subset of Clinton supporters who say they’ll go vote for McCain in the general if Hillary’s not in it. Does that sound like a policy-driven decision to you?
So — are African Americans voting for Barack Obama because he’s black? That’s clearly at least partly true. And again — a not-insignificant subset of Obama supporters say they’ll go vote for McCain in the general if their candidate doesn’t get the nomination.
Obviously this isn’t about policy anymore for these angry voters. Many of the supporters in both camps are feeling bruised and hostile as a result of the campaign tone… and that would likely be true if both candidates were white men (although the number of people saying they’ll vote for the other party’s candidate seems pretty darned high this time around).
But to suggest that African American voters are driven by bigotry would seem to mean that if the Republican nominee was a black person, then the black community would go vote for him, because they simply couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a white person.
Not an option. Never been an option. But if it were, then and only then would the corollary argument — that some black voters won’t vote for a white person under any circumstances — hold water.
Speaking of having options: what would these white people do if all the candidates were black?
None of this is to say that all white people who are choosing Hillary Clinton are bigoted or prejudiced — or even most of them. But absopositively, a bunch of them are. And while I find it ridiculous on one level, I find it pathetic on almost every other.
But hey — this is just me. Maybe some of you see this differently? By all means, let’s talk about it.
Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.
Well said, as always.
I will doubtless be pilloried for this comment but, being an avid Astro’s fan because they are from Texas and from my hometown Houston, to date my only thought about the hefty support from the Black community was that their rooting for one of their own. So what? I can recall the day when people voted for someone because they were admired as being the strong, wise, example of Texas values, i.e. John Connoly. I don’t think everything has to be a matter of “racial” urgency. It seems to me to more resembe an expression of Home town spirit. Spirit is good, it’s healthy, it’s fun and it prompts people to communicate openly about thier goals and ambitions. What’s the big deal? Maybe a lot of people need to lighten up.
“But to suggest that African American voters are driven by bigotry would seem to mean that if the Republican nominee was a black person, then the black community would go vote for him, because they simply couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a white person.”
Any possibility that this behavior is a manifestation of another form of bigotry? After all, black republicans would never be derided and demeaned by large portions of the black community for being Uncle Toms, Oreos or SOMFs, would they?
Being a Black American, I like to see others like me succeed and do well so I can agree with glide625’s comment. But that plays a really small part in my decision to support Obama. I’ve had the opportunity to support Al Sharpton and Alan Keyes in their presidential run, but didn’t. Obama is different. People want change and he’s been the best at convincing me it can be done. People are getting excited about politics and are getting involved in the process. If he can motivate others to do than, then what other things are possible if he is in office.
BTW, I’m forever an Oilers fan. I guess I should let it go, but it’s fun to hold on to the bitterness 😉
You said it:
It is indeed a beauty contest, and perhaps the standards for judging a beauty contest should be used here. After all, while one may disagree with the judges on which contestant most “deserves” to win the prize, all the contestants are beautiful, so it comes down to a matter of taste and preference.
When one has no substantive policy differences between two candidates, and when each one would represent a historic first if they win the prize, how else is one to choose? Perhaps by picking someone who “looks like me”, or more verbosely “looks like someone who would make me proud, or who I would be proud to claim as a peer and friend”.
Evidently, a majority of white women (Democrats, at least) see Clinton this way, while an even bigger majority of blacks–men and women–see Obama that way. Why would one not expect voters’ taste and preference to favor the contestant most like themselves? As long as the contestants are seen as legitimate, that is. (Clearly prior beauty contestants Al Sharpton and Alan Keyes were not seen as “beautiful” by many of those who on the surface “looked like them”. Blacks have had many opportunities to vote for black candidates just because they were black, and while some do vote this way, most do not.
Obama is the first black contestant seen as “beautiful” enough to deserve to win, and not just by black voters, either. In fact, his strong support from non-black voters is part of what validates his “beauty” in the pageant and nourishes the hope of his winning. Why wouldn’t black voters do their part to make it happen?
If there is a historic first to be made here, why not by the contestant whose “beauty” most closely aligns with their taste and preferences? Who “looks like them”?