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Mtl_zack's avatar

How will racism affect the US election?

Asked by Mtl_zack (6751points) October 7th, 2008

racism will play a role, but how much of a role? i listen to NPR a lot and they interview people who “just cant trust his face” or “dont trust his background”, referring to Obama.

how can this problem be resolved? should Obama make some ties with Jessie Jackson or other people fighting racism to get some support? is this why Obama is so passive?

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24 Answers

simone54's avatar

The south already votes republican.

BonusQuestion's avatar

Obama should be now 15 points ahead. I bet the main reason that he is only 6–8 points ahead is because of his race. Fortunately the race factor is not enough to cost him the election. Hopefully after he gets elected he does a good job and changes people’s perception about blacks. This is at least what I hope.

SoapChef's avatar

Racism is still thriving in America. They say when it comes down to the wire, even people who want to vote for Obama, just won’t be able to vote for a black man. How sad for us all.

trumi's avatar

The reason this race has remained so close (no matter what the polls say) is Obama’s race.

In 2004, John Kerry lost by only 3 million votes. And let us be honest; who really loves John Kerry? I haven’t talked to a single person that likes Kerry more than Obama, and yet Kerry absolutely could have won in 2004 (sorry on behalf of all Ohioans).
Furthermore, the US is even more fucked up now than it was four years ago. Therefore, McSame should be dead in the water.

Of course racism is an issue. If it weren’t, Obama would have a much larger lead. If you don’t think it is an issue, come to Ohio, head out to the country, and talk to folks. Come to my family reunion on Saturday. Hardworking, nice people, but honestly some of the stuff my great uncles used to say was prejudice as hell, and very nearly racist. In the northern states, in 2008. Yes, racism is an issue.

BUT let us not overlook the fact that Obama would not be the nominee if he were a white man. The fact that he is a black man is one of the main reasons he is going to be the next President of the United States, and I’m proud to support him.

To answer your follow up questions:
1. I think a great step is electing the first black president :D
2. Obama has done great things to unite the black community for the past several years. You can’t overlook that he is only the 3rd black senator in US history. As far as Jesse is concerned, Barack has to look after the family jewels around that man, if you know what I’m sayin’.
3. You could make the argument that Barack has, over his lifetime, developed a deep sense of pacifism (in politics and in attitude) in order to (how can I put this delicately…) not scare whitey.

AstroChuck's avatar

@trumi- Kerry didn’t lose the election.

judochop's avatar

I think that the majority of racists are Republicans anyway.

trumi's avatar

@Chuck: Neither did Truman.

AstroChuck's avatar

You think Dewey won? I don’t think so. The US wasn’t a banana republic back in 1948.

Celeste00's avatar

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m surprised it hasn’t been an even bigger issue. I mean, with some of the recent racist episodes (such as the “white tree”) the fact that Barack is actually this far seriously surprises me when I think about it. Not so long ago, I remember watching The Fifth Element, and seeing that the president on it was black and thinking “yeah, right!”.

augustlan's avatar

Maybe 24 has softened the blow for some. I think that was the first major show to portray the American president as a black man. Racism definitely plays a role, I just hope it’s not a big enough one to change the outcome.

Mtl_zack's avatar

@augustlan: wow! Fox actually did something to support the democrats :)

dalepetrie's avatar

Is there still racism in the US? Undoubtedly. Does it change how people vote? Undoubtedly. Is that all negative? No. Is it mostly negative? Doubtful. First off, it’s easy to scapegoat and say most of the racists vote Republican anyway…that would be unfair to say. I suspect however that conservatives, by virtue of what “conservative” means, would be more resistant to a change like this. And make no mistake about it, this is a HUGE change for us. it’s not just that 145 years ago, blacks were still held as slaves, 40 years ago people still shot black leaders for fighting for equality. Many who were around then are still alive. And it’s not as if MLK was shot, and all of a sudden we were a kinder, gentler nation. Indeed, I believe blacks make 68 cents on the dollar for what similarly qualified whites make to this day. Even growing up in the 80s, you have to remember how revolutionary it was to have something like the Cosby Show on television. Change like this is slow. There are many whites who were raised to think that blacks were somehow different in a good way.

And it hasn’t helped that black culture has in many ways glorified violence, and the “gangsta” lifestyle…things that scare the living daylights out of white folks who may not even have black people in their communities. Rural voters are often more conservative, not because they wouldn’t like the benefits that come along with certain change, but because they fear the detriments. So it’s no surprise that the majority of the sentiment that associates black culture with “bad change” would be rural/conservative voters. Where do we see the red on the maps? In your more sparsely populated areas! But New York and California…places that have huge population centers are by virtue of the number of people, more culturally diverse…people who live in metropolitan areas have decided to take the bad with the good, and those areas are blue on the map. It’s not because people who live in metropolitan areas are “smarter”, but they’ve been exposed to other cultures…like black culture. They see it in their own backyard, every day. And because blacks in actuality aren’t worse than whites, when whites see this with their own two eyes, it diminishes the ignorance, the fear, the racism.

So I am NOT saying that there are no liberal/Democrat racists…certainly there are…but the conditions that bring on mainstream racist ideas are not as prevalent where liberals are in the majority. So, indirectly, you have to realize that in the reddest states, the ones where no Democrat has a chance anyway, you are going to see Obama lose by more than would a white Democrat…but a loss is a loss. Again, there is still SOME racism in the blue states, and that may well depress Obama’s numbers somewhat, in a country like this it HAS to. But essentially, all you really have to worry about is the racist Democrats in the mildly blue states. Because if a Republican is racist, he’s already going to vote for the Republican. If a Democrat in New York is racist, it’s going to be like taking a single drop of water from the ocean. It’s going to matter in the states where it’s close.

But one must look at mitigating factors. There are people of ALL races who are going to vote for Obama BECAUSE he’s black. There are people who think that’s an important step in our evolution who might switch their vote, or possibly just turn up when they otherwise wouldn’t have. I believe a black candidate who is viable will increase turnout among people who don’t vote because all they ever have to choose between is two rich old white men…but not this time. And look at the African American vote. Usually blacks vote for the Democrat 90/10, this year it’s likely to be 95/5. I tend to think that there are actually more people in close states who will vote for Obama in some part because he’s black than there are people who will vote against him for that reason but who would have voted for a white Democrat.

Another part of racism is the small but loud faction which is actively hateful towards blacks…you know, the Aryans, the KKK, folks like that. But 1) they don’t represent a huge portion of voters, and 2) a lot of these people honestly don’t vote anyway. This is because they don’t just hate blacks…they hate Jews (and others…basically anyone who isn’t white), and Jews in particular, well every candidate Dem or Republican is pro Israel, and that in part makes these kinds of people inherently distrustful of government altogether. They are essentially a different kind of anarchist…they’re not going to vote for McCain because Obama is running. Indeed, some want the government to be destroyed, and think a black President is just the prescription…some Aryans have actually said they’ll vote for Obama for that purpose!

I think when you get right down to it, any factor that exists with any one candidate is going to make him unpalatable to some part of the base, and palatable to some element of the opposite’s side of the base…in a nation of 300 million individuals, each with their own way of making up their own minds, it’s impossible to really find one characteristic like race and say its’ going to have a net negative or positive impact…there are almost always offsets of some kind.

To be honest, look at the numbers. If you just add up the states where Obama has an average polling lead, he’ll get 375 electoral votes. He’s as far ahead of McCain as he should be now. Earlier in the campaign, the idea that he’d have been way ahead would have held water….but he’s just taking a bit longer to get to the numbers he should have, considering his competition. And a slow climb with a peak at the end, when people make up their minds, is to be expected….Obama after all has only been a known commodity to the majority of Americans for a little over a year.

And the individual is really what is of the utmost importance here. We COULD have had a white person as our representative….Hillary Clinton. But she would not have pursued a 50 state strategy. She might have won, she’d have shored up Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania earlier, but that would have left her vulnerable….lose one of those states for WHATEVER reason, she could lose the election because she has no backup. But would she be competitive in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Virginia, North Carolina and Indiana? She probably wouldn’t have contested most of those states. Right now, Obama has about a 90% chance of winning, because if he loses any one, two or three states, he’s got 5 or 6 to fall back on, PLUS he’s ahead in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. Just like the liberals have embraced changes for the better regardless of the possible risks, Obama has embraced the changes in the Democratic party…Clinton resisted them…and THAT’S why she lost. She was the past, the history of the party, she was not about change. Obama was about moving forward. Someone like Clinton could have won the Republican primary…she represented the safe choice, the less risky one. Obama was the one who represented a new way forward, and that’s what Democrats have wanted. It’s just that even the liberal party in this country has traditionally been conservative, because conservatives have been so effective at painting any liberal ideas as communist/socialist. Things finally got so bad, and the leadership of the Republican President was SO BAD, that enough people finally said, NOT THIS TIME. We’re going forward.

And because there are millions of people who have never voted before, because both candidates were too status quo, too conservative, too much of the same, Obama has a historic opportunity to bring them to the table, which will more than offset any racism that permeates the final results.

aidje's avatar

In direct response to one of the OP’s comments, I think that affiliating himself with Jesse Jackson is one of the worst things Obama could do in terms of losing votes because of his race.

augustlan's avatar

I agree with aidje. Many whites (even me, sometimes) find Jesse Jackson a little over the top.

EmpressPixie's avatar

Racism is certainly still alive in the US. And it definitely is playing its part in this election. The plus side, I think, is that most of the people who would be too racist to vote for Obama are already republicans. But perhaps that is unfair of me.

However, it is certainly playing a part in the rhetoric of the election. There have been several times that the speech coming from the republican side of things has been racially tinged. I think up to and including last night when McCain called Obama “that one”.

But at this point it is a race for the undecideds and I don’t think anyone who will let race influence their vote is still undecided.

nayeight's avatar

I think the black vote is gonna be a huge turnout. Black people know whats up. Some people think, wow the black community is being kinda quiet and it’s true, they are, they’re waiting until nov 4th. Black leaders like Jesse Jackson and famous others (who aren’t as mainstream as Oprah) know that this is the time to just be quiet and let Obama shine. I’m sure the rap community would love to embrace Obama and show up at all his little functions but we all know that would scare the shit out of white folks so I think that’s why the black community is being supportive, yet quiet.

nayeight's avatar

And as for rasism, it’s out there. I live in a rural area and everyday I drive south to take a little 3-car ferry to where I go to school. You would not believe the awkward looks I get on that ferry. Nothing but old, white men with their Ford F250’s and McCain bumper stickers. I drive a bright green Honda Element and I’m the only person my age or my race that ive ever seen using that ferry. I’m also the only person I’ve seen on that ferry with an Obama bumper sticker

Bri_L's avatar

My buddy was just saying she was at the YMCA and about 15 old men were talking politics and finally asked her who she was for. She said “Obama” they said “how can you trust Him” and she asked why don’t you. they said things like “well, he is just new” “what do we know” and even “well you know”. She said “know what” they said “he’s black”

jsc3791's avatar

I live in Louisville, KY and while my city is pretty open minded and accepting, as soon as you step outside the city limits, you’re in the middle of a big red state. It is depressing sometimes.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s actually sort of an interesting question, but not for the reasons you think. It seems that most people make decisions largely based upon appearance. Every person has different criteria in their heads, but all are equally spurious, if they are deciding based on looks.

So racism is based on looks. But looks already help people decide. How is lookism any different from racism? If people think they don’t trust someone because they have black skin and african ancestry, is that any different from people saying they trust someone because they look like a tough decision-maker?

I’m afraid I can’t say that racism can be separated from anything else. People make decisions in what I think is a irrational way. I can’t tell one irrationality from another. So I think that not only is it impossible to say how racism affects the election, but that it is irrelevant.

nayeight's avatar

@ daloon – I think the lookism you’re talking about is called discrimination.

wundayatta's avatar

Yeah, nayeight. That’s the whole point of an election: discrimination. We vote for the person we like best, no matter how stupid the reasons for liking that candidate.

pburgbill's avatar

I am a white man living in NJ. I am for Mccain but not because of race. I believe he has a better plan. If obama Wins I will support him and pray for him, as no matter who wins will face tough challenges. I believe Obama to be a good human being. Vote for the man running not the race. Thats on both sides. My country I love as I love my countrymen no matter their creed or color. God bless America and all her people

Bri_L's avatar

@pburgbill – Welcome to fluther!

I am giving you Great answer! I happen to be for Obama. But believe in what you say and I will support who wins because in the end, I am for America.

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