Black candidate: Bane or boon?

Tom Jackson
Mar 23, 2010

Jacob Weisberg at Slate magazine has a provocative piece arguing that if Barack Obama loses the fall election, racism is the only factor that could explain the loss.

Weisberg has at least half a point. He cites polling data that shows resistance to a black candidate among older white voters -- any black candidate -- and I have noticed anecdotal evidence that seems to support Weisberg's point. (Here's a phone message left for me Aug. 6 by what sounded like an older white guy with a Southern accent: "I have a very serious question I want to leave for the entire staff to think over. In case Obama is elected president this coming fall, how long do you think it may take our country to turn into another South Africa or Zimbabwe? Thank you." Hey, you're welcome.)

But there's an obvious flaw in Weisberg's piece: He doesn't try to explore how being black also will help Sen. Obama's cause.

For example, it's widely expected that the opportunity to help elect the first black president in U.S. history will inspire a large black turnout, and that black voters will support the Democratic ticket overwhelmingly.

I also suspect there are at least some non-black voters who oppose racism and would therefore be inclined to support Obama, all things being equal.

I'm not arguing, by the way, that black voters would automatically support any black candidate. If the Democratic candidate was Sen. Hillary Clinton, and the Republican candidate was, say, former Congressman J.C. Watts, I am sure most black voters would go for Clinton. I am only arguing that Obama is the Democratic candidate who is likely to get particularly strong black support.

More on all this tomorrow.

Comments

Anonymous

I am a middle aged white woman and I will vote for Obama. I do not care what color he is, just that he represents a change from the Republican Bush disaster of the past 8 years. I am afraid that Obama might lose the election, not due to racism, but because of the disgusting "swift boat" type attack campaign ads that McCain has stooped to using to try and make us forget he is just another George W. Bush. The Republicans will do and say anything to get their candidates elected. McCain dodges any question he doesn't want to answer by reminding us all that he was a POW, as if that excuses everything. I respect his sacrifice for his country, but DO NOT respect his campaign tactics.

Anonymous (not ...

Prejudice against VP candidate Joe Lieberman being a Jew was the REAL reason that Gore lost in '00.

And the Dems didn’t give Sen. Clinton the nomination because they’re sexists.

Give me a break…

Anonymous (not ...

Mr. Jackson, thanks for the link. I skimmed the piece.

It's essentially a straw man argument; it’s entirely fallacious.

Anonymous

A lack of credentials will be the cause if Obama loses the Presidential Election. Those party line voters who do not recognize his lack of experience and therefore political strength, will effectively perpetuate the racism arguement. The Honorable Hillary Clinton would have been my choice. Does that make me a "non-sexist"?

Anonymous

Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, the black woman running for President on the Green Party ticket, is virtually unknown because mass media ignores her. Contrast that with Barack Obama, who was unknown 4 years ago, but today is a celebrity thanks to mass media. Mass media is a cartel controlled by a mere 5 very wealthy billionaires (Rupert Murdoch, Rothschild, Newsome, Bronhof, and Redstone).

This election is not about race; it is about money! The power elite want Mc-Bama, and they fund both sides. They don't care which side the voters pick, because they trust them like they are two sides of the very same coin.

They don't trust Cynthia McKinney because in Congress she voted against Bush EVERY time, not just twice like Obama did. They also don't trust the white guys also running on third party tickets (except perhaps Bob Barr - they might trust him NOT to get 5% of the vote, so they gave him just enough publicity to win the LP nomination).

Thomas Sowell, a black economist, wrote the "Economics and Politics of Race" back in the late '80s. Check it out.