Jack Cafferty at CNN has come out and said the main reason the polls in the US Presidential Election are so close is because of race. As he argues:
“The differences between Barack Obama and John McCain couldn’t be more well-defined. Obama wants to change Washington. McCain is a part of Washington and a part of the Bush legacy. Yet the polls remain close. Doesn’t make sense…unless it’s race.”
The sad part of Cafferty’s article is that there is some truth to what he’s saying. There are some people out there who, even if Obama were a carbon copy of Reagan in terms of policy, wouldn’t vote for him because of his skin color. It’s unfortunate that we still live in a nation where someone wouldn’t vote for someone of a different race, even if that candidate were more than qualified and would be good for America.
At the same time, if we go off stereotypes (and complete the irony), wouldn’t most of these people who wouldn’t vote for a black man no matter what also struggle with voting for a female vice president? Granted, not every racist is also a sexist (and not every sexist is a racist), but it’s fair to assume that someone who is closed-minded enough to be a racist is likewise a sexist.
With that in mind, how do we explain the closeness of the election? First, looking to the political analysis, Cafferty is wrong in saying it’s racism. A few months ago after Obama and McCain had essentially become the candidates for their respective parties, Obama enjoyed a double-digit lead over McCain. Are we to believe that people who intended to vote for Obama abandoned their radios, saw him on television, and realized he’s black? Did they have a Clayton Bigsby moment where they realized their fearless leader is actually a black man? If it’s about race, why did Obama lead McCain prior to the Republican National Convention?
Could it be that there are some people that simply don’t want to vote for Obama because of his policies? I tend to think that this might be more of the reason for the closeness in the polls (that and Sarah Palin). Look at the 2000 and 2004 elections – in both of them the polls and elections themselves were extremely close. This election is following the pattern established by those previous elections. What is our excuse for 2000 and 2004?
The simple truth is this – some people just don’t want to vote for Barak Obama. Others like him, but see McCain as more qualified. It’s not a matter of voting for a “black man” or anything like that – people just don’t like his policies. I, for one, don’t feel comfortable voting for someone who shot down the Born Alive Infants Protection Act when a state senator. This same bill, when pushed through the US Senate, was supported 98-0 (the two absentee senators were both pro-life Republicans). Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton – two very pro-choice candidates – voted for this bill. When Obama was faced with the same bill, he shot it down using an illogical slippery slope argument. Even when the language was changed to mimic the national bill, he still shot it down. This has nothing to do with Obama’s race, but everything to do with his policies.
It could also be that some people don’t like his economic policies, his lack of foreign policy experience, his pop-culture status rather than governmental status, or any other host of ideas. It doesn’t necessarily have to be race. If a black friend of mine argues that he won’t vote for John McCain am I to assume he won’t do so because John McCain is white and therefore my friend is a racist?
There are really only two reasons Cafferty would say the polls are low because of race. The first one is that he’s simply out of touch with Middle America. The second one is that he wants it to be about race.
On the first one, people who spend so much time in Washington or on the upper floors of the East Coast cities rarely see what the rest of America is like. They are almost cultish in their behavior in that they only read their material, only speak to like-minded folks, and never take the time to understand the rest of America. With this in mind, to them ‘liberal’ is the status quo in America. They don’t realize that a majority of Americans really lean more toward a conservative view. It is easy, therefore, for Cafferty to say that this is about race – he’s ignorant to what some Americans actually believe.
The second one is he could simply want this to be about race. By declaring “anyone who doesn’t vote for Obama is obviously a racist” it would make it more difficult for middle of the line voters to vote for McCain. After all, if you say you voted against Obama, this must mean you’re a racist. It’s a strategy to place a guilt trip on people and, in all honesty, it’s sickening. Rather than leaving this to the issues and letting people decide the media is using deceptive tactics to help win an election.
Finally, by saying this is about Obama’s race sets the black community back a number of years. If Obama loses and we blame it on race, the Democrats can turn around and, in their pragmatic quest for winning, refuse to run a black candidate for a number of years. The Democrats don’t care about minorities (must like most Republicans don’t really care about children in the womb), they merely use them as a means to an end (winning). If those means don’t bring about an end and, in their view, prevent the end they desire, then the means are thrown out. This will be the case if Democrats lose in November and blame it on race – it will be a long time before a minority candidate is put on the ticket. In other words, Cafferty’s view is actually one that leads to racism if it isn’t directly racist itself.
I’m not endorsing either candidate, but I think we need to step back and get real about this election. It’s not about race, or gender, or age, or anything of that nature. It’s simply that there are some people that think a liberal America is better and others that think a conservative America is better. We’re not seeing anything that really differs from the last two elections.