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Obama: The Price of Being Black
September 22, 2008 2:02 PM   Subscribe

Obama: The Price of Being Black
posted by wittgenstein (76 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Poll: Racial views steer some white Dems away from Obama
posted by homunculus at 2:08 PM on September 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Push to ‘Otherize’ Obama
posted by homunculus at 2:10 PM on September 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Persistent Myth of the Bradley Effect
posted by DU at 2:18 PM on September 22, 2008


Wait a minute, Obama's black? Why is now the first I'm hearing of this?
posted by quin at 2:18 PM on September 22, 2008 [8 favorites]


He's also a Muslim! Hold on, I'll forward you the email.
posted by Tehanu at 2:20 PM on September 22, 2008 [12 favorites]


That's muslin, Tehanu.
posted by yhbc at 2:22 PM on September 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


Black Comic Introduces McCain (via Andrew Sullivan's blog)
posted by haricotvert at 2:30 PM on September 22, 2008 [5 favorites]


I first read the link as "Obama: the Prince of Being Black," and expected a very different article.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:32 PM on September 22, 2008 [10 favorites]


Well that was pretty funny, haricotvert. I like this line:

My favorite line: I practice abstinence with moose-shooting-momma-having bitches.
posted by Mister_A at 2:34 PM on September 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't wait 'til the older generation dies off.
posted by plexi at 2:34 PM on September 22, 2008 [8 favorites]


From the link: Here, however, not many whites regard Barack Obama as their inferior; effete or arrogant perhaps, but they don't fault him on intellect. To some, indeed, he may seem too much the intellectual. Resentment of perceived black privilege is also involved, as we have seen with respect to affirmative action, and even fear of some kind of racial payback.

I'm not sure I understand this, how is there a perception of black privilege here? Is it because what with all the black presidents we've had prior to this, we are just naturally more comfortable with the idea of a black guy in charge, than something radical and frighteningly outside of our happy zone like electing an old white guy?

I'm not arguing that the average voter doesn't perceive some stupid shit, but is this one really a factor?

Please say 'no'. I'm trying to retain my faith in humanity today.
posted by quin at 2:36 PM on September 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


how is there a perception of black privilege here

Decades of scapegoating by race-baiting Republicans since the civil rights movement is how.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 2:43 PM on September 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


quin, I've heard a lot of resentment over the perception by some that Obama is "playing the race card" (as in, we can't say anything against him, he'll play the race card! We can't beat that. He's calling us racists out of nowhere, that's totally unfair... he can only do that because he's black. And so on.)

Even more importantly, it wouldn't surprise me to find that anger over affirmative action is playing a role in general perception of him. There's a lot of bitterness about affirmative action programs (real and perceived) among certain people, and add that to Obama's attendance of elite schools and his being the candidate despite some claims that he is less accomplished than other candidates... I can definitely see resentment coming into play.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:44 PM on September 22, 2008


quin, sorry to do this to you man, but among many middle- to upper–middle-class white voters, there is this strong conviction that black people are taking jobs, university spots, promotions, etc. away from "more well-qualified" white people–that is the essence of the black privilege idea. It's a knee-jerk reaction to affirmative action.
posted by Mister_A at 2:44 PM on September 22, 2008


What is seldom openly said is that a lot of white Americans feel racially aggrieved. They were represented by Barbara Grutter and Jennifer Gratz, whose petitions to end affirmative action reached the Supreme Court in 2003. Their claims were that places which would otherwise have been theirs at the University of Michigan were given to less qualified black applicants. Thus, they argued, they were rejected because they were white, and there was an official preference for other races. . . . What is rarely mentioned is that neither Grutter nor Gratz were outstanding candidates. To put it crudely, they weren't high on the "white list." And a lot of whites see themselves in the same situation. They are the ones who don't get admission or promotions, and thus feel they bear the brunt of affirmative action.

I have two friends, Bob and Larry. Bob works for a bank. Larry is unemployed. Bob hears about an opening at his bank and recommends Larry. Larry gets an interview with Bob's boss. I get an e-mail from Bob the next day "Larry came in for his interview in shorts and a polo shirt, didn't shake hands and gave one word answers to every question my boss asked him. He totally blew the interview and won't get the job and made me look bad for suggesting him. Can you believe that?" I get another e-mail from Larry later that day saying "I didn't get that stupid job at the bank. Bob said they had to give it to a black woman because of affirmative action. Can you believe that?"
posted by ND¢ at 2:48 PM on September 22, 2008 [31 favorites]


Obama: The Price of Being a Democrat. Not even Bill Clinton would have got elected without Ross Perot splitting the Republican vote. I always thought Colin Powell would have won by a landslide if he ran for President on the Republican ticket.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 2:50 PM on September 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Do we have enough serious comments so I can say: "$20, same as in town"
posted by GuyZero at 2:52 PM on September 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Obama: The Price of Being a Democrat.

In 2004, the Democratic Party was the largest political party, with 72 million voters (42.6% of 169 million registered) claiming affiliation. An August 2008 estimate is that 51% of registered voters, including independents, lean toward the Democratic Party and 38% lean toward the Republican Party.

Please don't let facts get in the way of your opinion though.
posted by ND¢ at 2:57 PM on September 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


That reminds me of complaints about underrepresented groups having an advantage in college admission. I suspect a lot of people who rail against that sort of "racist" policy aren't considering the students given a boost because they're from an underrepresented county/state/country, because their major concentration just happens to need extra students at the time, because they were the first ones to go to college in their families, because their parents are very poor, because their parents are very rich, because they are any number of a million other things that students have little to no control over.

It's curious that few people complain about those "affirmative action" admissions - I guess a lot of complaints are based on the idea that black people are inferior. No one says "that girl is totally unqualified to be here at NYU, but she's from Minnesota so they let her in anyway!!" yet you do hear plenty of similar talk at college discussion boards replacing "from Minnesota" with "(x) racial minority."
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:00 PM on September 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Onion: Portrayal of Obama as Elitist Hailed As A Step Forward For African Americans
posted by mothershock at 3:09 PM on September 22, 2008 [4 favorites]


It's curious that few people complain about those "affirmative action" admissions - I guess a lot of complaints are based on the idea that black people are inferior. No one says "that girl is totally unqualified to be here at NYU, but she's from Minnesota so they let her in anyway!!" yet you do hear plenty of similar talk at college discussion boards replacing "from Minnesota" with "(x) racial minority."

For most people, I think it's a very selective attack of a perceived problem without a deeper understanding of how college admissions works. Because most people don't know how it works, not even in a general sense. At best they've got a strong misconception about it. Which is why I think the middle/upper class comment upthread is probably wrong. I think it's more prevalent among the outsiders trying to break into those classes: lower-middle and working class white people who are experiencing the strongest competition for jobs and who are competing most strongly with people unlike themselves. It's more like, this group of people I have some underlying prejudices about got a free hand up into the boat I've spent my working life trying to get my kids into! And now my son did not get into the school we wanted for him, because they gave the slot to a black kid! I got laid off, but they just hired a new black guy to work the forklift! This country is screwing me over to give special treatment to people who I don't think have earned what they're getting!

Seriously, this is what I see going on.
posted by Tehanu at 3:12 PM on September 22, 2008


We have to elect Obama, if nothing else for the chance for Jack Starrett to say:
The new sheriff's a ni. . . (bell ringing).
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 3:19 PM on September 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


that article (?) did cover a lot of ground didn't it?

and yeah, solon and thanks, it is kind of amazing how many people don't have any idea what a far reaching attempt at levelment affirmative action is. having gotten my political awakening in oklahoma i never got to the end of the line of folks who wanted to deride and remind me that i was in college jess cuz i'm blaaack... i actually got my scholarship on merit and finance.

but what really stands out for me in that article was the mention of white resentment towards black accomplishment. i've come across that kind of shit before and all i can think is that there are some white folks out there who still aren't happy with the fact that us black folks only have to wear economic and psychological chains (not counting that crazy jail thing, anyway). i am being serious: i have this weird feeling all the time that white america (whatever that is) is still not comfortable with the idea of free blacks. no quotes necessary around the word 'free' in the preceding sentence either.

is that because we still get the short end in a lot of ways and so folks are scared of a backlash? are they annoyed at us no longer being uppity, but actually being equal when we express differing opinions? i live in seattle and i have to say i feel so excluded sometimes. but the thing i'm feeling excluded from isn't all that wonderful anyway is it? not if articles like the FPP are floating around about it.

i thnk some folks hate seeing us with houses. with educations. with their sons and daughters. saving up pennies from our crappy jobs and jumping on planes to other countries with just backpacks. i guess it would be tough when only yesterday you still thought the world was yours, ma.
posted by artof.mulata at 3:19 PM on September 22, 2008 [10 favorites]


"I have some underlying prejudices about got a free hand up into the boat I've spent my working life trying to get my kids into! And now my son did not get into the school we wanted for him, because they gave the slot to a black kid! I got laid off, but they just hired a new black guy to work the forklift! This country is screwing me over to give special treatment to people who I don't think have earned what they're getting!"

don't you think that's being a little kind?
that feels like the kind of spin that some community organizer, rabble rouser or politrickian puts on things to get folks roused up while simultaneously giving them some verbal ammo so they don't have to say things like, "what is a nigg-chi-kik-bit* doing here?" when they inevitably get confronted over that crap.

christ but this kind of speculating on hypotheses gets me unhappily worked up.
posted by artof.mulata at 3:28 PM on September 22, 2008


I know many middle class Americans who believe that African-Americans "owe" "whites" because of the "preferential treatment" African-Americans have receive.

/me spits.

The point is that most people don't do as well as they thought they would, and aren't willing to blame either themselves or a government that's spent most of the last 30 years taking from the poor to give to the rich - so Negroes provide a convenient excuse.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:29 PM on September 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


Interesting side note. today's Time mag pointed out that with all the yelling Obama remains very cool. He has to. If you are white and you yell, you are a populist. If you yell and yo are black, you are a militant.
posted by Postroad at 3:29 PM on September 22, 2008 [6 favorites]


Black candidates run like this. White candidates run like that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:32 PM on September 22, 2008 [4 favorites]


John Green, of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, says that about 10 percent of Americans believe we may be in the Book of Revelation’s “end times” and are on the lookout for the Antichrist.

Man we've been in the "end times" since I was knee high to a duck, I'm guessing we'll be in the "end times" until, without the aid of miraculous intervention, we really do finally end our time.
posted by nola at 3:53 PM on September 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


And we understand why black Americans would want a person of their race in the Oval Office. But just what is there about being white that might incline someone toward one candidate instead of another?

Hacker's article is interesting -- but doesn't this seem an odd point in the opening? Obviously he means something historically specific -- that black voters, having been forever represented by white male presidents, may see some value specifically in the election of a black president. But doesn't this line above sort of miss the point? If we take for granted that voters select a president based on preference for their own race, shouldn't that hold for white voters as well?
posted by sloweducation at 3:55 PM on September 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


In 2004, the Democratic Party was the largest political party, with 72 million voters (42.6% of 169 million registered) claiming affiliation. An August 2008 estimate is that 51% of registered voters, including independents, lean toward the Democratic Party and 38% lean toward the Republican Party.
Please don't let facts get in the way of your opinion though.


And yet Kerry still managed to lose to Bush in 2004, despite Democrats being the largest party. I think his point was pretty valid: Democrats have been doing badly in national elections for a while now. Obama being black is a factor, but so is the general political incompetence of the Democratic party.
posted by wildcrdj at 4:05 PM on September 22, 2008


don't you think that's being a little kind?
that feels like the kind of spin that some community organizer, rabble rouser or politrickian puts on things to get folks roused up while simultaneously giving them some verbal ammo so they don't have to say things like, "what is a nigg-chi-kik-bit* doing here?" when they inevitably get confronted over that crap.

christ but this kind of speculating on hypotheses gets me unhappily worked up.


There's some of that going on too. What I'm saying is I grew up white in the south and the racism among white voters where I lived is a nasty, pervasive thing with all kinds of angles to it. It runs really deep. Most people making racist decisions have or are given some comfy thought to justify it. I get that. Most people I talk to don't know that, so I'm trying to explain. It's not as often "we hate them" as it is "here's this bad thing related to them." No less bad, but a lot less self-aware and difficult to talk people out of. Most people who mistrust Obama because he's black won't think of it that way. Many don't see the chains you've had to deal with. Often they don't want to.

Much of my family will vote for McCain, even though their lives are ridiclously similar to Obama's in many ways, because he's just too "different." "Not like us." They don't trust him. Only a few acknowledge a mistrust of black people in general. The rest fear "from Hawaii" "too different from us" "doesn't understand us" "elite" and "probably a Muslim anyway" the same way they fear "crime" when the first black family moves on to their block. It's all coded. They get to do it and not feel bad about it.
posted by Tehanu at 4:11 PM on September 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


> Democrats have been doing badly in national elections for a while now. Obama being black is a factor, but so is the general political incompetence of the Democratic party.

Don't forget the general idiocy of the electorate.
posted by you just lost the game at 4:14 PM on September 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Black people are privileged. George and Weezie Jefferson lived in a de-luxe apartment in the sky.

In May, Hillary Clinton described many of her core supporters as "hard-working Americans, white Americans." Primary voting in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia confirmed her surmise

Actually, it didn't. Obama won primaries in mostly-white Oregon and Iowa, and he's leading in both states. He doesn't have a "hard-working Americans, white Americans" problem, he has an Appalachian problem.

Interesting side note. today's Time mag pointed out that with all the yelling Obama remains very cool. He has to.

He's the Jackie Robinson of politics. Robinson had to take a lot of shit from racists because the expectations of him as a black man were higher and he wasn't allowed to be seen as the angry black man either. (Where's the Fire?)

By the 2000 GOP convention, there were only eighty-five black faces among the 2,022 Republican delegates.

For GOP, it's a whiter shade of pale: "The 36 black delegates to the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul is the lowest total in 40 years for a Republican National Convention."

It all started with Richard Nixon's strategy, which was initially aimed at the South. With the opening of electoral rolls to blacks, the then-dominant Democrats were becoming a biracial party, which disconcerted many whites.

That's really soft-pedaling the Southern Strategy:
You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger"—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.
...and ignoring the effects of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prompted LBJ to say "We have lost the South for a generation."
posted by kirkaracha at 4:20 PM on September 22, 2008 [4 favorites]


Democrats have been doing badly in national elections for a while now.

You know, apart from taking over Congress two years ago.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:20 PM on September 22, 2008


The degree to which they took over the majority was, given the circumstances, a minor win. Not minor in terms of what it means, but minor in terms of what should have abnd would have happened if most of the country was even awake.
posted by Tehanu at 4:25 PM on September 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


“but what really stands out for me in that article was the mention of white resentment towards black accomplishment” - artof.mulata

There are people who are like that. Which is another component of this. e.g. - why should *I* as a non-racist person have to pay (in promotion, hiring, etc) for what some racist guy does/feels?
Some folks think of themselves in terms of privilege by ambition. So they’re going to be plugged into that either way.

That is - I tend to get along better with people with whom I share common interests. So if my black buddy is making more money than me, or gets a job instead of me, I don’t particularly care because I’m not on that wavelength. He’s the same as me, so it’s just like I got it. Or anyone else from this sort of ersatz ‘tribe’ I’ve got in my head that encompases “me and people like me.”

Some folks tho look at it in terms of what they lose even if it’s a friend getting ahead. So add the black thing on that and you’ve got this screwy situation where if someone’s doing better they don’t deserve it, and if they’re doing worse they’re lazy.

Which sucks for those of us not plugged in to money/power/things as status - but sucks worse for black folks because the hidden vibe is that they’re one group that isn’t *supposed* to do better than anyone.
Hey, I might just be a forklift driver, but I’m better than a black forklift driver - sort of thing. And on up the income level to CEOs.
Black folks - America’s social self-esteem safety net.

But mostly those people are shitheads in the first place, so it’s not a racist thing per se. Which is what can be so confusing.
Hell, I get smart ass looks from my brother in law (who makes more money than me). Like he’s keeping score in some game that I don’t even know I’m playing. If I based my self-worth on the size of my t.v. or paycheck, stuff like that, I suppose I might care.
But my lack of caring won’t enter into it if someone like that decides to torpedo my career because they think they should be doing better than me. Being black in that case would be just one more thing they could use.

Half of those folks are friggin’ extraterrestrials anyway you ask me.
(Like ‘They Live’)
For many people Obama being black is a non-issue. In that, he’s more like me because he ‘x.’

And yet if he is seen as ‘arrogant’ or whatnot - there is some noticiable difference there that isn’t with the ‘white’ candidate.
I mean what the hell, other than military service, do I have in common with a guy like McCain who’s a multimillionaire?
My wife is an ivy league grad. Many of our friends are intellectuals. So I’ve got more in common with Obama. Even so - he’s at a top level there. And he’s fairly well off. So not much in common - really.
Still - the ‘hard working’ American - who really doesn’t have much in common with either - is more apt to notice that with Obama.

The question we should be asking is why don’t people notice it with McCain - or other ‘white’ politicians?
I mean, that’s the big lie.
Bush is going to sit down with you and have a beer? Seriously? Why?

Reminds me of something a comedian said about his buddy wanting to have sex with Madonna. Like, what are you going to show her she's never seen? A velcro wallet? You have no common ground whatsoever.

People don’t seem to get - with this photo ID vote stuff and purging the roles, etc - they have more in common with the guys getting screwed out of voting than they do with the millionaires telling them ‘I’m just like you. I'm the guy you'd have a beer with’

S’like the Public Enemy tune “NightTrain.”
Some of “them” look just like you.
So yeah, it's being black. But it's not just being black. It's being (or not being) "white."
posted by Smedleyman at 4:28 PM on September 22, 2008


Not even Bill Clinton would have got elected without Ross Perot splitting the Republican vote

So, in other words,....

"Not even Bill Clinton Barack Obama would have got elected without Ross Perot Ron Paul splitting the Republican vote."

[Now, that's a thought!]
posted by humannaire at 4:29 PM on September 22, 2008


Not minor in terms of what it means, but minor in terms of what should have and would have happened if most of the country was even awake.

Totally, I completely agree. But 2000 and 2004 weren't exactly crushing defeats, and the upswing continues. Within that context, I think the "LOL Dems cant win" meme is getting old.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:31 PM on September 22, 2008


Interesting side note. today's Time mag pointed out that with all the yelling Obama remains very cool. He has to. If you are white and you yell, you are a populist. If you yell and yo are black, you are a militant.

You write that as if being a populist is a good thing.
posted by kisch mokusch at 4:32 PM on September 22, 2008


Totally, I completely agree. But 2000 and 2004 weren't exactly crushing defeats, and the upswing continues. Within that context, I think the "LOL Dems cant win" meme is getting old.

Hopefully, and I really didn't mean it as a LOLDemocrats comment. I think that the Democrats have been unable to properly capitalize on Republican failures (the scope of their victory in 2006 could have been greater, and was largely achieved by massive collapse in the Republican party - and Obama's lead over McCain is much smaller than it should be, which I think is partly due to this same lack of effective campaigning).

Given that the Republicans have completely failed to fix the problems that led to their defeat in 2006, this year should be another blowout for the Dems. Still, I haven't seen anything fundamentally different in the way they're going about it this year (by which I particularly mean the House and Senate races) that convinces me they've gotten any better at it.
posted by wildcrdj at 4:39 PM on September 22, 2008


Sorry, but anyone that transferred into an Ivy League school from Occidental, did well enough there to get into HBS, AND whose class standing was good enough to qualify him for Law Review and became its President. Who then went and served at the lowest levels of politics, ran for state office and then took a US Senate seat in a walk? And has survived a grueling two year fully frontal national public vetting process?

Sorry, but that motherfucker is indeed qualified for consideration to be President of the United States. Black, white, yellow, plaid, it doesn't matter. This guy is a higher quality candidate than anyone this country has seen since Eisenhower (save Clinton for the ability and George HW Bush for the resume, and discounting JFK because he did it with his daddy's connections, so far as I can tell Obama has done what he's done on his own).
posted by psmealey at 4:48 PM on September 22, 2008 [4 favorites]


HBSHLS
posted by psmealey at 4:49 PM on September 22, 2008


I can't wait 'til the older generation dies off.

The generation that was most famous for being racist has at least partly died off, leaving sons and daughters and grandchildren who they trained well. And the fears of "affirmative action" were from Day One grossly exaggerated as a calculated, cynical strategy to appeal to racist attitudes and make them more socially acceptable.

In my entire life, I can think of only one time being a White Male was NOT automatically an advantage for me. When I had my first Accounting job, my boss admitted that he paid the older woman in the next cubicle more than me because "we're a small company, there are no stepping-stone jobs between yours (Clerk) and mine (Assistant Comptroller). Giving her encouragement not to stay at the same job is worth the trouble. Not for you, you're upwardly mobile. You'll get bored and start looking for bigger opportunities and find them." (like a white male is supposed to do).

Anyway, the fact that Barack Obama is considered having any chance of winning this election has little to do with improved racial attitudes, but this particular guy's ability to create himself an image that is both dynamic and non-threatening (in the face of so much effort to label him a threat). If he were a white dude named Barry O'Bay, the election would be over.
posted by wendell at 4:53 PM on September 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Now that I've outed my Kristof/Kristol confusion in another thread, I'll say that I thought Kristol made an excellent point in a recent piece:

What is happening, I think, is this: religious prejudice is becoming a proxy for racial prejudice. In public at least, it’s not acceptable to express reservations about a candidate’s skin color, so discomfort about race is sublimated into concerns about whether Mr. Obama is sufficiently Christian.

I mean, that's not some unheard of observation, but I haven't heard it so succinctly put before.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:57 PM on September 22, 2008


Apologize if that link led to a paywall. I can't remember where the cookie jar is these days.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:58 PM on September 22, 2008


Obama should really give a major speech on race to address some of these issues.
In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience - as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren't always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze - a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns - this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:03 PM on September 22, 2008 [4 favorites]


Goddamn I did it again. Kristof made the good point. ARGH.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:09 PM on September 22, 2008


the general political incompetence of the Democratic party.

The Obama campaign has an office with paid staff in Utah. Yes, Utah. The grassroots recruitment efforts before the office opened drew about twenty people, half who had been involved in political action before. The recent Camp Obama drew around a hundred people with at least three out of four getting involved for the first time. The state coordinator looked about 28 years old. Every presentation was given by someone less than 30 years old; one looked like she was 18. The BYU for Obama group started out with a handful of students and is now at over 150 and they supply about 50 students a weekend to travel over to Colorado for canvassing. And they're just one of the many grassroots groups empowered by mybarackobama.com. This is about more than just the next four to eight years and has little to do with whatever incompetence the Democratic Party suffered from in the past.

And just for contrast, here's what Kerry did in Utah in 2004:
posted by effwerd at 5:27 PM on September 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


kikaracha wrote: "And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns - this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding."

wait. wait. wait. this is going to make me crazy. are these concerns legit or are they an obfuscation? it's not like the non-whites or whomever (!) created these situations so how can these concerns ever be anything but insubstantial? sure, the concerns are real, but they are aimed at ghosts, spectors, bogeybeasts.

and is it so wrong that the folks who have to bear the effects of those cries against them would wish that these people would just shut up and get over it? if they did that then there would be no need to implement affirmative action. instead they have to be told that getting angry is counterproductive. it's the battle of malcolm versus martin all over again. people are tired of being told to wait and to bve polite. and doesn't that go back to the heart of the article? the price?

this sucks; i have to leave and i am finding this conversation valuable. looking forward to what all you wonderful people will post while i'm away. this is why i paid my $5 dollar entry fee.
posted by artof.mulata at 5:37 PM on September 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


I thought the original FPP was excellent--balanced summary of history and the current situation.

(homunculus linked to Kristof in the 2nd comment. No one should ever confuse Kristof and Kristol. The myth of the Bradley effect article is good too ...)

It seems pretty obvious that religious prejudice is becoming "a proxy for racial prejudice." Prejudice against "community organizers" is a proxy for racial prejudice.

Pretty much everything the GOP has "got" on Obama is a proxy for racial prejudice. The claims of inexperience, intellectualism, and elitism are all code for natural inferiority or affirmative action. The "celebrity" commercial was a chance to put him on screen with highly sexualized white females.

See John McCain's "corrupt black guy screws old white woman" commercial.

See John McCain's "look at that uppity [N-WORD]" commercial.

(And perhaps not as relevant but still amusing, John McCain's classic "Obama as antichrist" commercial.)

Even the claim of "higher taxes!" is a covert cry against redistribution of wealth or public benefits to underclass minorities. I mean, don't people love to support our troops and kick ass in the desert? More than half of our taxes go to the military--people should be happy to pay more taxes.

I admit the racial attacks are slick; I think we just have to hope for a huge minority turnout and the infrastructure to support that turnout.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:43 PM on September 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Lets hope it's not another repeat of Dukakis and Bush.
posted by leybman at 7:35 PM on September 22, 2008


I found this article fascinating and informative for the most part--I had no idea, for example, that 53% of blacks in Milwaukee county, as opposed to just 15% of whites, were without driver's licenses and so could not register to vote. It's amazing to me that such a discrepancy exists in this day and age.

I did have trouble parsing the logic in this discussion of the exclusion of those on felonies lists however: Oddly, it only requires that 80 percent of the letters in your name match with the name of someone with such a record. So if there's a murderous John Peterson, the software disenfranchises everyone named John Peters. In view of the racial rates for incarceration, black voters are more apt to have names closely resembling those with felony histories.

So, because more blacks are incarcerated in the general population, more black voters have names that are similar to those on the felony lists? I'm not sure that follows logically. There's an presumption in that syllogism that more blacks than whites have generic names like the example, "John Peterson," and I am skeptical of that presumption.
posted by misha at 7:36 PM on September 22, 2008


Jesus mrgrimm you're absolutely right about those McCain commercials.
posted by ob at 7:51 PM on September 22, 2008


since obama is the first 'serious' black candidate, he has to be perfect to win this election. no room for error. so far he's just about pulled it off.
posted by brandz at 7:53 PM on September 22, 2008


Maybe, brandz. But I couldn't help connecting recent GOP statements about the "angry left" with earlier commentary in Metafilter about the danger of Obama being seen as the "angry black man". They've successfully predicted the moves Obama cannot make and maneuvered the arguments there. Mad? You bet we should be mad. Can Obama stand up and say that with any feeling? No. So there's perfect, and then there's impossible.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:02 PM on September 22, 2008


It's curious that few people complain about those "affirmative action" admissions - I guess a lot of complaints are based on the idea that black people are inferior.

I don't know about that. I'm more familiar with law school admissions than undergraduate admissions, where the applicant's race really is incredibly important. Being black can turn a "laugh and toss" application into an "admit with money" one. I would guess that personal connections are the only comparable soft factor.

Personal connections aren't immediately visible, though, and I think people are resigned to taking second place to the rich and powerful, to be honest.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:21 PM on September 22, 2008


I had no idea, for example, that 53% of blacks in Milwaukee county, as opposed to just 15% of whites, were without driver's licenses and so could not register to vote.

The article does make it sound that way, but read what the sentence says, again:

No fewer than 53 percent of black adults in Milwaukee County were not licensed to drive, compared with 15 percent of white adults in the remainder of the state.

They're comparing city dwellers from Milwaukee to rural Wisconsinites. It's more feasible to live without a car in places with reasonable public transportation. The effect they're describing is real, however, not as dramatic as the numbers they're describing.

The GOP is also targeting people who've had houses foreclosed.
posted by swell at 9:45 PM on September 22, 2008


So, because more blacks are incarcerated in the general population, more black voters have names that are similar to those on the felony lists? I'm not sure that follows logically. There's an presumption in that syllogism that more blacks than whites have generic names like the example, "John Peterson," and I am skeptical of that presumption.

Well, there is a presumption that there are names that are statistically more likely belong to african americans than to whites. This is, especially at the lower end of the economic ladder, obviously the case.
posted by atrazine at 11:03 PM on September 22, 2008


The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names
posted by atrazine at 11:06 PM on September 22, 2008


20 most common names for white vs black males
Note that there is no overlap.
posted by atrazine at 11:09 PM on September 22, 2008


While the "Bradley Effect" has recently become a hot topic again, I find it interesting that many still downplay it, pointing to, for example, Obama's success in Iowa.

Of course, that wasn't a general election, it was a Democratic primary.

If Barack is still polling only 3-5 points ahead nationally come November-- which, ordinarily, would mean an electoral blowout-- he could very easily lose... and that's not even taking into account voter registration skulduggery, let alone the still-lurking-because-still-technically-feasible, if unproven-as-practice, threat posed by black box voting machines.

The fact is, a blandly typical white centrist male Democratic pol-- even assuming him to be far less shrewd, interesting, skillful, and charismatic than Obama-- would probably be polling *at least* four points better than Obama is now. Even the Hapless Ent, John Kerry, would probably be doing two points better.

Obama has recently introduced a more cutting and sarcastic tone, which is in some ways satisfying-- there's actually some heat involved--, and in some ways convenient-- there's not too much heat, which would play into a ready-and-waiting Angry Black Man trope-- but the playful, (seemingly) off-the-cuff quality of these remarks-- which is charming to his supporters, and impresses many of them (okay, us) with its nimbleness and style-- makes them seem scattershot.

It's one of those Dem vices-- seeming clever and knowing, qualities which are motivating and inspiring for the base, but bloody awful for the low-info middle-- that poison their results every four years. (These personal matters are much less of an issue in congressional races, such as 2006, because congressional races are much more about policy stance, party affiliation, and national mood.) In national races, again and again, the Dems lose because they a) don't look for the most threatening frame and b) don't repeat the main charge endlessly.

Obama's repeating the theme "more of the same" often enough, but though I imagine it must test very well in focus groups (else they wouldn't use it), it fits really badly-- or rather, all too well-- with McCain's theme, "Scary Dangerous Bl-- Foreign Risky Possible-Antichrist Guy".

"More of the same," now matter how unpleasant, has less of an impact than "He wants to do dark, foreign things to you and your family". And, worse, it is possible to be "Change" while at the same time being "Dangerous and Exotic and Threatening". In fact, Change and Different/Dangerous reinforce each other.

Obama and his team seem to think that if they stick to mockery long enough, they can get McCain sufficiently irked to blow up on camera. Given McCain's temper, this is possible... but they'd be better off just endlessly describing him as a Dishonorable Keating Fiver with a Desperate Hunger to Send Your Kids to War While Looting Your Bank Account for His Greedy Friends.

Needed: Less Flair, More Thud.
posted by darth_tedious at 12:37 AM on September 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Couple of points I am curios about. Please correct me if I am mistaken:

In a 6–3 decision in April written by John Paul Stevens, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board , the Supreme Court upheld a 2005 Indiana law requiring voters in that state to produce a government document with a photograph at the polls. In practical terms, this meant a passport or a driver's license.

In practical terms this also means a state ID (driver's license without the driver's part). The author barely mentions state ID's other than to state his opinion that for many people it would be hard to get to the DMV because it is a long trip. The rest of his numbers seem to talk only about how many people don't have licenses. I wonder how numbers would change if he included ID's.

In all, 94.2 million white Americans took part in the 2004 presidential election, as compared to only 13.5 million blacks;

Just out of curiosity, does anyone know what the 2004 population of whites and blacks in the US was? I pulled some rough estimates off wikipedia and figure that 94.2 m voting whites represents about 2.5 percent of the total white US population and 13.5 m voting blacks represents about 3 percent of the black US population. Implying that more white people vote because there are more of them. Anyone know if this is about right or if I am completely wrong here?

I feel like this guy is proud that he has the balls to bring up the issue of race in the upcoming election. "Look at me! I'm not afraid to tell it like it is. I'm not afraid to bring up racism." Although, it could be me just being cynical after living 6 years in a city (in Michigan) that thought the best way to go about healing racial tensions would be to spend god-knows-how-much on renaming a street "Martin Luther King Jr. Ave"
posted by silkygreenbelly at 1:38 AM on September 23, 2008


This is Your Nation on White Privilege: Admittedly, this article is weirdly focused on Palin, but it does give a decent contrast on issues where she's been given a pass over Obama.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:03 AM on September 23, 2008



Just out of curiosity, does anyone know what the 2004 population of whites and blacks in the US was? I pulled some rough estimates off wikipedia and figure that 94.2 m voting whites represents about 2.5 percent of the total white US population and 13.5 m voting blacks represents about 3 percent of the black US population. Implying that more white people vote because there are more of them. Anyone know if this is about right or if I am completely wrong here?


Your numbers are off. We have 305,000,000 people estimated as of 2008, with 24.6% under 18. So approximately 230M total voting eligible population, which should translate to approximations of 50% for you.
posted by explosion at 4:23 AM on September 23, 2008


I have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that Obama's going to lose. Crooked voting machines, racism, GOP dirty tricks at the polls...it's just going to be too much to overcome. Whether Obama loses or "loses," McCain will be taking the oath of office in January. And then America will really have to lie in the bed it shit in.

Prove me wrong, folks.
posted by Stonewall Jackson at 6:44 AM on September 23, 2008


Why should race play a key part in who you are going to vote for? You should look at the issues and say hey candidate A has more issues and policies that I agree with than Mr B. Then you vote. There should not be this "Look McLame has horns and a tail and plans on screwing this country up more! Hey you better vote for him tho because he is not black!" My Aunt said something to this nature a few days ago. "I'm not voting for that muslim boon... at least McCain is white!" I about slapped her. Only reason I remembered it is because I was that shocked. Only way Obama can overcome this type of thinking is for America to wake up and turn on their collective brain.... God we are screwed :>(
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:47 AM on September 23, 2008


20 most common names for white vs black males. Note that there is no overlap.

Whoa, whoa. Those aren't the most common, they're specifically the least likely to overlap. The most common names overall don't appear on those lists.
posted by kittyprecious at 7:48 AM on September 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Barack Obama, John McCain, and the Language of Race (NYT - nothing new; just reinforces some of the comments here)
posted by mrgrimm at 7:59 AM on September 23, 2008


I'm pretty sure that if I were a white American male, I'd be scared that the black man was going to rise up and slaughter me in my bed.

And if there's a fund somewhere that I can contribute to in order to see this thing happen sooner, please let me have the details.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:26 AM on September 23, 2008


"I have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that Obama's going to lose. Crooked voting machines, racism, GOP dirty tricks at the polls...it's just going to be too much to overcome. Whether Obama loses or "loses," McCain will be taking the oath of office in January. And then America will really have to lie in the bed it shit in."

Same. It's maddening. I honestly believed for the longest time that Obama had no chance in hell of losing, but I'm not so sure anymore. I hate feeling so cynical but our political system is such a trainwreck that I won't bat an eye if McCain takes it. Well, I may throw up. But I certainly won't be shocked.

I really hope we're wrong.
posted by kryptondog at 8:44 AM on September 23, 2008


"Do you know he has not one shred of African-American blood? He's Arab. You know, he's from Africa. He's from Arab parts of Africa. ... [H]e's not African-American. The last thing that he is is African-American."

WTF.
posted by homunculus at 9:30 AM on September 23, 2008


“The author barely mentions state ID's... I wonder how numbers would change if he included ID's.”

I suspect it would be similar. (Do you have a state ID? I do, but only because I took the time - and paid the money - to get one.) On top of that - it’s one more barrier, one more thing that can be questioned.
On top of that there’s the general cultural issue - many black folks don’t trust, and wish to remain as anonymous as possible in the eyes of, their government.
That attitude didn’t just suddenly appear.

“Why should race play a key part in who you are going to vote for?”

I think that’s the idea here. Why it does. You’re right, it shouldn’t. But there are more factors entering into it than whether someone is racist or not. And many of those things are invisible. And many of those things are exploited by folks futzing with the system. Sort of an invisible game going on that that ‘white’ folks often don’t see, but that it’s possible to buy into - inadvertently or not.

“ ‘God we are screwed :>(’
& ‘I really hope we're wrong.’”

You are. Systems can only labor under so much disbelief. Part of the big illusion is going on now. This McCain & Obama neck and neck business. Obama is (and should visibly be) annihilating McCain.
Sure, most folks treat politics as a circus. But once they start tightening their belts, once they start getting hungry, once they start losing their houses, they go for whomever is going to straighten that out.
Oh, we love our wars (note - not the troops - demonstrably) but we’re not going to pay for them if we notice the burden.
Obama should win handily.
But that doesn’t mean folks should blow off watching the polls etc., making sure it’s a clean contest. Really, I’d rather see McCain win fairly than there be any lingering doubt either way. (Things are fairly volcanic as they are.) I’d bet the farm he isn’t. But a clean win would be vastly better than something people can riot over. And I’d be one of those people.
It’s not just the Republicans swiping the vote, it’s the Dems rolling right over that really makes it look like it’s rigged.

Hell, people forgot who Badnarik was in the last contest over the vote count. That’s if they knew who he was in the first place. Meanwhile Kerry the hero, Kerry the fighter, couldn’t get back into anonymity fast enough after dropping like a tomato can.
If I didn’t know the man (Obama) pretty well there would be no way I would vote Dem for president after that.
So yeah, half of the game this election is invisible.
And those being the terms, I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have leading it, not Colin Powell, certainly not Jesse Jackson. He’s that good.
And at that, if Obama were merely the right guy I’d expect him to pull it off. But he’s the right guy in the right place at the right moment in history doing exactly the right things the country needs.
You’d have to be blind not to see what’s going on in the country and the world right now, and where it’s headed without Obama.
And if we’re that blind, I don’t lament it. Everything has to die some time.
Rome fell. It wasn’t the end of the Republic or democracy.
And that’s all that really matters. The U.S. falls into being just another empire, just another country, meh. We - that is, humans - are not going to lose the ideals.
Hell, it’ll be nice having an enemy you can fight and define against. Who’s Sparticus without Dives Crassus? Crispus Attucks without the murderous Redcoats? Ghandi without (well, big, say the British army and General Dyer)?
MLK without (well, he was big too and had a lot of enemies - let’s say J. Edgar Hoover)?
Etc.
You only lose when you stop fighting.

“...You know, he's from Africa...the last thing he is is African-American”

He’s Hawaiian.
(And yeah - logic?)
Y’know, I know my commitment and faith in the first amendment is strong, but sorely tested, whenever I hear Limbaugh. Man, you couldn’t invent that guy. A deaf, child molesting, drug using, racist (the 'Magic Negro), propagandist - Prothero’s got nothing on him.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:15 AM on September 23, 2008


"Do you know he has not one shred of African-American blood? He's Arab. You know, he's from Africa. He's from Arab parts of Africa. ... [H]e's not African-American. The last thing that he is is African-American."

Not only is Limbaugh an idiot, he's not even internally consistent from one sentence to the next. Can we stop giving him air time now?
posted by quin at 10:27 AM on September 23, 2008


Steal Back Your Vote! How to make sure your vote counts

Truthout Greg Palast and Robert F Kennedy on how your vote is stolen and how the "liberal media" influences you

The Common Cause Blog Get Karl Rove

Current Events
Current TV


Vote For Change Register to Vote, find out where to vote, etc.
posted by redhead at 10:48 PM on September 23, 2008


Frank talk of Obama and race in Virginia
posted by homunculus at 9:39 AM on October 5, 2008


My wife got into some fight with an idiot at work about Obama, Rev. Wright, Ayers, ACORN, Rezco, but mostly she continued to harp on the whole he's a stealth Muslim thing, and it made me realize a few things. One is that you should never get into an argument with a moron, but the second is this:

The whole Obama being this Manchurian Candidate, guy with a shady past, a sleeper agent sent from the Islamic world to enslave all "decent" red-blooded Americans and steal our precious bodily fluids.. blah, blah, blah. It's a funny thing about that. Apparently, those rumors are rampant and widely accepted in places like Appalachia, other poor, predominately white, uneducated, rural communties as well as among right wing dead-enders... and that's pretty much it.

My question is this... how is it that some of the worst elements of our society, the most narrow-minded, most ignorant, least educated, most bigoted have such a monopoly on this kind of insight where the rest of the country is just not getting it?

Not to say that "we liberals" know any better than they do and that they should be encouraged to learn from their more educated countrymen (that'll never fly anywhere), but the demonstrable lack of any ability to undertake any self-examination or just basic common sense or sanity testing, blows me away, not to mention makes me incredulous that we, as a species, ever even made it out of the Middle Ages.
posted by psmealey at 10:14 AM on October 8, 2008


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