'post-racial candidate' - is the US getting over its obsession at last?

  1. Nereid

    Nereid 4,014
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    In that well-known pinko, commie, surrender-monkey-loving, scurrilous rag 'The Economist" (tongue firmly in cheek, in case you missed it), August 14-20th 2004 issue, Lexington (the US columnist) talks about Obama vs Keys in Illinois. He certainly doesn't pull any punches in his opinion of the stupidity of the Republican Party here (e.g. "The thinking behind this is beguilling in its simplicity; the Democrats have a black man who can give a rafter-raising speech, so we had better find a rafter-raising black man too. Beguilling, but stupid. Mr Keyes' Senate race will produce nothing but disaster - humiliation for Mr Keyes, more pie on the already pie-covered Illinois Republican Party, and yet another setback for Republican efforts to woo minority voters.").

    However, it's not the travails of Republicans that caught my eye, but the following: "The point about Mr Obama - as the Republicans might have realised if they had paid greater attention to his speech in Boston - is that he is a post-racial candidate." (my emphasis)

    Intriguing! Is this accurate? The Economist is, after all, a UK magazine (even if it counts among its readers and subscribers a veritable galaxy of US political figures, right and left). If it is, is it evidence that the US public is beginning to get over its hang-up with 'race'? That the issues have to do with poverty, opportunity, etc and not the colour of a person's skin?

    US PF members, please educate me!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. A little more elaboration would have helped. (What horrifying disaster awaits the Republican Party if Keyes loses? What exactly is a post-racial candidate, and why is Obama an example?)
     
  4. selfAdjoint

    selfAdjoint 8,147
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    Obama is not the first black candidate to hit the beyond-race key, but he is the most notable one in a long long time. During the period when superficial equality was on the books, but blacks were not making the progress they expected, the politics of grievance brought a different kind of black leader to the fore. This is the background that Obama has transcended so excitingly.
     
  5. Nereid

    Nereid 4,014
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    I found the column on the internet: here.

    I was kinda hoping that PF members in the US would chime in and tell me more about this 'post-racial candidate' thing! Otherwise, how do we ask Lexington?
     
  6. selfAdjoint

    selfAdjoint 8,147
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    The Illinois Republicans were already in deep doo-doo because of the corruptions scandals around their former Governor. They were wiped out in the 2002 elections and dearly hoped that attractive senatorial candidate Jack Ryan would retrieve their chances. But he turned out to be a sexual weirdo, and had to withdraw. Facing that, their intelligent choice would have been to put up some country lawyer, fur druthers a woman, with a spotless record, to provide a moral center, even if they lost the election.

    What they have actually done is to bring in a carpet bagger whose only relevance is that he's a black republican. It doesn't help that he's a clown to boot. This has ticked off not only the Illinois blacks, but all the numerous Illinois whites, including social conservatives, who are proud of themselves for voting for black candidates. There are a lot of these; Carol Mosley-Brown was a previous senator, and black candidates have done well in statehouse offices. So the Republicans have made their future electoral chances worse by this choice.

    And a post-racial candidate is a black who says to whites "Our problems are the same as your problems."
     
  7. Carpet bagger? As in Hillary Clinton?

    I think your opinion of Keyes is colored by his party affiliation. I seriously doubt that Keyes' candidacy is going to have any lasting impression on voters. Keyes couldn't possibly be nuttier than Carol Moseley-Braun.
     
  8. Nereid

    Nereid 4,014
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    So, is anyone taking bets on the outcome of the Obama-Keyes contest? What will the margin be??
     
  9. Obama, landslide. JMHO
     
  10. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    The "black" vote goes almost entirely to Democrats in the US. 90%+ in most elections. IMO, that means that keeping a racial division is important to the Democratic party. That, to me, says Obama's speech and position is extremely dangerous to the Democratic party. I suspect that like McCain with the Republicans, they'll let him make speeches because he's a crowd-pleaser, but they won't let him have a shot at the Presidency. And that's a shame. I don't know anything about his policies, but his attitude is something you don't see from politicians: I would probably vote for him.

    Regarding Keyes: he's a buffoon, imo. He talks like Sharpton but without the sincereity. He seems to be saying: 'vote for me, I'm smart!'
    Agreed.
     
  11. selfAdjoint

    selfAdjoint 8,147
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    We'll see what happens with Obama down the pike. Russ, I don't accept your theory that a black-white divide helps the democrats. Unlike the republicans they have to sell their candidate to BOTH black and white voters. The more polarized the electorate, the harder that becomes. In Illinois the dems have some experience with this.

    Carol Mosley-Brown turned out to be nutty, and lost the next election. But she very carefully did not rock the boat in her first election. She did everything she could to project the image of this nice black woman.
     
  12. Gokul43201

    Gokul43201 11,141
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    Keyes is just plain comical. That acceptance speech he made in Chacago last week had me in splits. :rofl:
     
  13. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    Actually, the message is easy to sell to both at the same time: the enemy is rich, white men. That gets you the "black" vote and the "soccer mom" vote as well as the working class vote.
     
  14. Obama is as much white as he is black. You could as easily say that he is a white who is appealing to the black vote.
     
  15. Nereid

    Nereid 4,014
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    Is this a common perception in the US? That people like Obama are viewed by some as black, by others as white? How common in the US is a view something like this: 'Obama is Obama and except for the fact that everything I read talks about him being black (or some other colour), I probably wouldn't have noticed. In any case, I am heartily sick & tired of race politics'?
     

  16. Obama is getting so much credit only and publicity due to the fact that he has been largely accepted as being black.He would not be anywhere near as succesful if he were white.
     
  17. Nereid

    Nereid 4,014
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    Thanks, that helps me understand a little better.

    Do you mean that, in US politics, everyone is viewed as being black, or white, (or A, or B ...), and no one is viewed as 'raceless' (i.e. their 'race' is undefined/indeterminate/irrelevant)? What proportion of the US voters are 'race-blind'?
     
  18. selfAdjoint

    selfAdjoint 8,147
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    Historically, US opinion treated mixed race people as black. This bias has had its effect on current, more enlightened, opinion, but the question is not yet settled. Look at Tiger Woods, who is clearly of mixed background; people are unsure what to call him.

    "Race-blind" is an interesting term. What do you think it connotes?
     
  19. Nereid

    Nereid 4,014
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    Hmm, I read that Tiger himself is (was?) pretty annoyed with people trying to put him in some kind of 'race box', and said his race is calibrasian (?); this would suggest that Tiger is 'post-race', and may fervently wish he lived in a 'race-blind' society.

    I have no idea if 'race-blind' is at all common in the US, but I don't think I'm such a creative person that I made it up :tongue2: Perhaps an analogy? In this past century the role and status of women in western society has undergone a tremendous change. With the election of Maggie as PM in the UK, you could say that UK society had become 'gender-blind' in politics (not 'sex-blind'; let's hope that it never becomes 'sex-blind' :wink:) ... even if it probably took another decade or so to become the reality - political debate about Maggie had to do with her politics, her government's policies, her party's internal machinations, and so on; they had little to do with her gender. I know it's not a perfect analogy - the Labour Party still very much has 'women's issues' as an important component of its manifesto - but I think you get the idea.
     
  20. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    A little more on this: blacks often view "post racial" blacks (or even just successful blacks) as traitors "trying to be white." The backlash against Bill Cosby is the same type of thing. For a black politician to not emphasize race as an issue puts him at risk of losing his identity and with it, the "black vote."
    Yes. Same type of thing as Obama - "I'm not a black golfer, I'm just a golfer." Put people still want to put him in that box (frankly, I think the media is a big part of the problem for both Woods and Obama).

    Regarding sex: its still an issue in the US, but it is fading. We probably aren't going to have a female president any time soon though. The problem is that while to a 25 or 30 year old, sex isn't an issue and young women do whatever they want, in the 60s and 70s when women's lib happened, sex was still an issue - and those are the women who today aren't in a position where they could be president. A woman in 1965 who wanted to be a poly sci major->lawyer->politician may not have thought it realistic and instead choose to teach politics instead of being a politician. It'll be another 20 years until today's woman is in a position to run for President (and her peers to vote for her).
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2004
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