Politics

Politics is a dangerous territory to discuss. Especially since there’s much emotion and fervor regarding this presidential race. I don’t normally discuss politics on this blog but this is something that has been bugging me as of late. I’d like to share my view with my readers so people can get a black woman’s perspective on this issue. By the way, I said “black” intentionally.

At this time, Senator John McCain is (pretty much) the Republican nominee. The Democratic nomination could go to either Senator Hillary Clinton or Senator Barack Obama. (I personally think Obama will end up winning the Democratic nomination, but that’s beside my point.)

This post addresses the highly popularized contest for the Democratic nomination between Clinton and Obama. In recent news, Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to ever run for vice president, said the following:

β€œIf Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman of any color, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.”

Here’s my brief disclaimer: If you are so passionate about politics that my opinion might cause you to stop reading this blog, I suggest you don’t read any further. I also don’t plan on engaging in long debates about politics either; it’s too much of a merry-go-round. But, since you’re human, you’re probably going to click the link below anyway.

Election 2008This race is all about race. The same word will be used for its proper context.

The Democratic presidential nomination battle started out as gender vs. race. Now, it’s all about race. There have been things said by many people about Obama’s race that were inappropriate. There also have been things said about Obama’s race that have been appropriate. I’m not attacking Obama; I’m simply discussing the issue of his race being brought up CONSTANTLY in this election.

The nomination battle has reared the issue of racism more prominently than ever. The first mention began with this:

“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” Biden said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

No one disputes that what Sen. Joe Biden said was stupid. He probably meant it as a compliment but it came out all wrong.

Let it be known, however, that despite Obama’s dominant African American appearance, he is biracial: white American mother and a black Kenyan father.

Now with a tight race as the DNC convention nears, things are starting to get uglier. People are accusing the Clinton camp of using race and ethnicity against Obama. Reports arose that the Clinton campaign circulated a photo of Obama wearing traditional Kenyan garb in attempt to paint him as a Muslim sympathizer. Then, there’s former President Bill Clinton’s own mouth:

Said Bill Clinton today in Columbia, SC: “Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in ’84 and ’88. Jackson ran a good campaign.Β  And Obama ran a good campaign here.”

This was in response to a question from ABC News’ David Wright about it taking “two Clintons to beat” Obama. Jackson had not been mentioned.

While Clinton’s response had nothing to do with the question, to point out the color of Obama’s skin is seen as racist. Not everyone who likens a black person to a racial counterpart is racist. While race shouldn’t be the basis of how we judge people, the fact of the matter is that it is still a touchy issue in America. Comparing Obama to Jesse Jackson is like comparing an orange to a lemon; similar in a few ways yet vastly different. Clinton won South Carolina in ’92; Al Gore did a good job in ’00; and John Edwards’ native son campaigning scored it for him in ’04. The only difference between Clinton, Gore, Edwards, and Jackson is that Jackson is a black man.

Race.

I don’t see Clinton’s comment as racist at all but it has since hurt Sen. Clinton’s standing among blacks. Heading into primary season, blacks viewed Sen. Clinton as the most electable candidate; they ignored Obama and figured he didn’t have a chance just because he was… well, black.

Initially, blacks shunned Obama because he was everything that stereotypical “black America” does not represent: educated, successful, articulate, non-drug user, and not concerned with “bitches” and “hos.” All too often successful black people are seen as “sellouts” and “Uncle Toms” by their own people. I can’t tell you how often I’ve gotten the “you’re not black enough” from my peers. My marriage to a white man alienated some family members. One black friend even attended my wedding ceremony, found out that I’d married a white man, and didn’t return for the reception.

Stereotypical blackNow, blacks have overwhelmingly shifted to Obama’s side after huge wins in Iowa and South Carolina. In an about-face, he’s now seen as black America’s best chance for success. Even civil rights leaders who had endorsed Clinton have run away to back Obama. Who cares if Obama’s a sellout or Uncle Tom? He’ll make all black people look good just because he’d be elected to the highest office of the land. After Fmr. Pres. Clinton’s remarks were seen as a racial attack, Obama went on to gain success in Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, and etc. His wins have been attributed to… race. NPR’s analysis from Wednesday:

Sen. Barack Obama topped Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s Mississippi primary. Despite overwhelming support in the African-American community for Obama, exit polls showed that he lost ground with white voters in what turned out to be the most racially polarized vote so far.

I don’t care what hope Obama’s got but it sure isn’t solving the racist problem in these votes. My husband mentioned something about “white guilt” among white voters but I’m not seeing the effects of that in recent voting.

My professional experience includes an internship at Sen. Clinton’s office in 2005. That doesn’t mean I’m voting for her.

Obama is a black man and I’m a member of the “black” community. That doesn’t mean I’m voting for him.

Clinton insists she’s the most “experienced” candidate of the two. Depends on how you view her experience. If you take all of the experience of her entire career – simply based on age, then yes, Clinton has the most experience of them both. Clinton is currently 60 years old; Obama is 46. If we’re speaking strictly of political experience, it’s a bit of a toss-up depending on a person’s preference. Clinton served as First Lady of Arkansas for 12 years, First Lady of the United States for 8 years, and currently has an 8-year history as a junior senator from New York. Obama served in the Illinois Senate for nearly 8 years and has served in the U.S. Senate for nearly 4 years.When it comes to “elected” experience, Obama blows Clinton out of the water.

Many Democratic voters are not looking for experience in this election – many are looking for “change” and “hope” – the new political buzzwords courtesy of the Obama campaign. Other Democrats, sadly, are looking for a black president. That’s it.

Sean Hannity performed two segments asking Obama supporters about Obama’s accomplishments. The first one was a general question about his accomplishments:

One statement bothered me: “He’s a great oratator [sic] like Jesse Jackson.” Why couldn’t he have been a great orator like John F. Kennedy?

Race.

The second segment asked specifically about his accomplishments apart from his personality. Pay attention to the statement from the last commenter:

It’s an accomplishment defined by race. Time magazine notes:

Illinois Senator Barack Obama easily captured a majority of Mississippi’s 33 Democratic delegates Tuesday as his one-on-one battle with Hillary Clinton race verged once again on deeper racial turmoil.

Race, race, race. You’re getting pretty tired of seeing that same word in this post, aren’t you? I’m tired of reading it and hearing about it from different sources in the news and politics.

It is to Obama’s political advantage to milk all the racial criticism for what it’s worth; it makes him look like a martyr and gives him the chance to try and help bridge racial divides. He’s the political Martin Luther King, Jr. we’ve all been waiting for.

If elected, Obama would become the first black president. If elected, McCain would become the first… former POW president? Who knows? Certainly no one in the media would highlight that as an accomplishment. If Obama is the Democratic nominee, it’d be a race of black man vs. white man. If Obama loses, you’ll be sure to hear “the white man kept the black man down.”

I am no black power-minded individual. I like to think I was able to attend NYU on the basis of my merits: a 3.7 GPA, performing community service, and being involved in such activities as the National Honor Society, Science Olympiad, French Club, Debate Club, and Theater. However, the idea of NYU’s affirmative action policy looms over my acceptance. In 2005, I joined the ranks of Jonas Salk, Benazir Bhutto, Theodore Roosevelt, and Tom Brokaw by being inducted as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. I’d hate to think that the society chose me because they needed to add a few black people to their ranks.

Obama’s campaign slogans include “Yes We Can” and “Change We Can Believe In.” On Tuesday night, he said:

“I am grateful to the people of Mississippi for joining the millions of Americans from every corner of the country who have chosen to turn the page on the failed politics of the past and embrace our movement for change.”

His challenge: To make the failed politics of racial equality a success so that every American of all races and nationalities can embrace a movement for change.

(Images from independentvoice.org and venomliterati.blogspot.com)

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4 Comments

  1. Gianna said,

    March 13, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    good for your Marissa, you did a very good job and you certainly didn’t alienate me!

  2. Bob Thompson said,

    March 13, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    If you think the race issue is bad now…wait until his pastor becomes a huge mess for him.
    Lookup Jeremiah Wright on youtube.
    This is the man Obama touts as a mentor.

  3. Prester John said,

    March 13, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    Interesting stuff. Try as I might, and I try mightily, I can’t help but pay attention on occasion, to the political scene.
    So you’ll know where I’m coming from, I’m a middle aged white guy from the deep south. I’m extremely cynical about most things, and politics today could make a Pollyanna feel dirty. I think the democrats will win. I hope so, not because I agree with them, but because the Republicans have been in power for too long and the pendulum has swung way too far to the right. That said, I think the liberals that think any sort of change is forth coming from any of the corporate candidates is going to be terribly disappointed. Just ask the conservative that voted for Little George what that feels like.
    Societal change occurs at a glacial pace. Actually, that’s incorrect. It happens in an instant, but only after pressure has built up for long periods of time, kind of like an earthquake. I won’t play the prophesy game concerning Iraq and socialized medicine. I hope for the best. I expect the worst. Additionally it’s abundantly clear to me that the primary function of our federal government, and probably any government short of a revolutionary one, is to protect the status quo. The permanent war-time economy, exploiting latinos for cheap labor, doing what they can to keep the masses divided and in the dark – they have no interest in changing anything except possibly lengthening their terms.
    All that said, I realize my opinions mean nothing. You’re much better educated than me. There’s little doubt in my mind you’re more intelligent than I am. Maybe much so. I’m not uncomfortable with any of that. I try and take folks one at a time and you seem to too, so we’re more alike than different. (Especially if you consider the depression thing.)
    I know you don’t like links. I saw a fascinating interview conducted by Bill Moyers on PBS with a guy named Shelby Steele who’s written a book on Obama. In it he discusses black/white relations and uses terms like “bargaining, challenging, and masking” to describe the way black people, or at least those in the public eye, deal with white people. It was interesting and you could find the video at PBS pretty easily.
    I apologize for the epistle. I continue to enjoy your blog.

  4. March 13, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    PJ,
    No problem at all. Your opinions DO count. Everyone has his or her own opinions and my intelligence or education doesn’t invalidate yours.
    I don’t mind links at all. I just don’t allow HTML. If you’d like to post a link here, please feel free to do so.
    The epistle was fine. πŸ™‚ Thanks for your comment.


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