Posts Tagged ‘racial views’

Obama’s Biggest Problem May Be His Skin, Not His Faults

September 21, 2008

As a Republican, I very much want Barack Obama to lose in November.  But I want him to lose for his policies, his distorted worldview, and his inexperience – and NOT the color of his skin.

According to one article, “More than a third of all white Democrats and independents — voters Obama can’t win the White House without — agreed with at least one negative adjective about blacks, according to the survey, and they are significantly less likely to vote for Obama than those who don’t have such views.”

I have a personal experience of the so-called “racial misgivings” of white Democrats.  While most of my extended family are Republicans, a few are Democrats.  One has stated in the family’s hearing, “I’m not going to vote for a G-D ‘N-word.'”  I hasten to add that he is related only by marriage, and that he is one of only two kindred whom I have always personally disliked.  Hearing his attitude about black people only served to confirm an already established attitude on my part.

One selected passage from the AP article titled, “Poll: Racial views steer some white Dems away from Obama,” says the following:

The findings suggest that Obama’s problem is close to home — among his fellow Democrats, particularly non-Hispanic white voters. Just seven in 10 people who call themselves Democrats support Obama, compared to the 85 percent of self-identified Republicans who back McCain.

The survey also focused on the racial attitudes of independent voters because they are likely to decide the election.

Lots of Republicans harbor prejudices, too, but the survey found they weren’t voting against Obama because of his race. Most Republicans wouldn’t vote for any Democrat for president — white, black or brown.

The survey results do not include statistics regarding Republicans and race, so the phrase “lots of Republicans harbor prejudices, too” seems to be more smear than polling.  Given the documented fact that journalists are likely to be liberals, I immediately suspect that fewer Republicans than Democrats demonstrated “racial misgivings,” or else the writer would have rubbed it in Republicans’ faces.  But it stands to reason that if a third of Democratic whites have “racial misgivings,” then some significant percentage of Republican whites do, as well.

That said, I’m not quite sure about all the questions, or about how the poll asked the questions.  For example, one finding was that “Nearly four in 10 white independents agreed that blacks would be better off if they ‘try harder.'”  Well, I happen to agree with that.  But then, I would also agree with the statement that “whites would be better off if they ‘try harder’,” too.

And when they used “negative adjectives” to impugn racial/racist attitudes, I am also somewhat skeptical.  For instance, it was observed in this poll that some 20% of whites applied the word “violent” more to blacks than whites.  That sounds bad, until you consider that, statistically, blacks do have a far more serious tendency to violence than whites – for example, black men ages 18-24 are more than 9 times more likely to have murder records than white men in the same age category, according to government statistics from 2005.  Other “negative adjectives” are likewise based in empirical realities.  The black community is dealing with dysfunction on a shocking scale – and many black community leaders are struggling to deal with these crises.

If something is true, than it is not “biased” or “prejudiced.”  Truth is seeing things without bias or prejudice, and I would argue that people who demand we do not consider the truth are the ones who have the problem.  But simply recognizing statistical realities is one thing.  The problem occurs when we wrongly label an individual for what is (statistically) going on in their society as a whole.  For example, it is a documented fact that young black men have a much higher murder rate than young white men, but that is no reason not to vote for Barack Obama.  Nor would it right to believe that Barack Obama is any more “violent” than anyone else just because of his melanin level.  As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. put it, we need to assess each individual as an individual, and make our decisions about each person based upon the content of his or her character rather than the color of their skins.

This is important to me not only as a Republican, or a member of a larger society, but as a human being.  Years ago while in college, I was leaving a nightclub when I heard a woman yelling for help in the parking lot.  I ran over – and was attacked by four young black men.  Obviously, I took a beating (where’s Chuck Norris when you really need him?).  From that experience, I have every right to understand that the statistics have a certain reality to them.   But if I decided that every young black man was guilty by association merely because they happened to be of the same race as the men who attacked me, then I would have lost out on a lot of great friendships over the years.  I might mention here that the men that came over to help me were also young black men, and I thank God for their assistance.

As a Republican, I yearn for the day when a black conservative puts a hand on a Bible and takes the oath of office as President of the United States of America.  I am rather ashamed to even think that significant numbers of Republicans would undermine themselves, their party, and their country by refusing to vote for the best candidate simply because of the color of his or her skin.

Unfortunately, given the response to the first (two) black Secretaries of State and the first black Supreme Court Justice, many black Americans would not view such a day as advancing any racial balances.

I wrote an open letter calling upon John McCain to nominate a woman.  When I heard that John McCain chose Sarah Palin to be his Vice President, I surprised myself; I was so overwhelmed I found myself weeping over the historical significance.  In the case of seeing the first black President to be elected from the Party of Lincoln, my lifelong love of history guarantees that I will cry like a baby.

Two other selected passages underscore Obama’s problems that don’t show up in the polling numbers:

Race is not the biggest factor driving Democrats and independents away from Obama. Doubts about his competency loom even larger, the poll indicates. More than a quarter of all Democrats expressed doubt that Obama can bring about the change they want, and they are likely to vote against him because of that.

Three in 10 of those Democrats who don’t trust Obama’s change-making credentials say they plan to vote for McCain.

Just 59 percent of her white Democratic supporters said they wanted Obama to be president. Nearly 17 percent of Clinton’s white backers plan to vote for McCain.

I believe that there are all kinds of valid reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with race for having doubts about Barack Obama.  And it is unfair – and even dangerous in an already polarized society – to insinuate that voters’ decision to vote for the more experienced and better known quantity of John McCain are therefore harboring “racial misgivings.”

Part of me wants to avoid the unpleasant reality and claim that an Obama defeat – and I do believe he will go down on defeat – will be due entirely to a public that finally sees his flaws as a candidate for President.  I personally believe that a significant percentage of the so-called “Bradley Effect” as it pertains to Barack Obama is nothing more than voters publicly claiming to support the candidate who has so continually been presented as the “cool” choice in the media, and then privately voting for the candidate they believe would be the better President.

This survey, or at least this survey as it appears in the Associated Press article, does not fully convince me that “racial misgivings” is as large of a factor as some pollsters and sociologists believe.  But to the extent that it is going to be a factor in this election, it would be clearly be the prejudices of Democrats, and not Republicans, that cause Obama to lose this race.