Race has, obviously enough, long been a major factor in American politics. Obama’s success to date has served to show that American racial views have changed over the years. But, it also shows that race is still a major factor.
Traditionally, racism has been seen in negative terms. To be specific, racism of this sort involves regarding the race in question as inferior or lacking in some way. For example, a white racist would traditionally be seen as regarding non-whites as inferior or defective.
This sort of traditional racism has long been a factor in American politics. Minorities have long had a very difficult time in getting elected on the state and national levels because, many claim, of racism on the part of whites. This sort of racism has also come out in the contest between Clinton and Obama. Some of Clinton’s supporters, such as Ferraro, have made remarks about Obama’s race. Further, Clinton and her followers have been stressing how Obama cannot sway certain white voters-presumably because he is black.
Various polls have been taken about the effect of race in the context of Obama’s campaign. Not surprisingly, race is still an important factor. Whites who are concerned about race are less inclined to support Obama.
While people still admit to holding positions that could be taken as racist, one interesting fact is that people tend to lie on such surveys in order to appear to not be racist. While racism still remains, it can be taken as a good sign that even some racists feel obligated to lie about there racism. This indicates that they might feel a bit guilty about such views. At the very least, it shows that they know that most people do not approve of racism.
Racism can also be positive. By this I do not mean that racism is good. Rather, positive racism occurs when someone attributes good qualities to a person based solely on race It also occurs when someone supports a person because of his favorable views of the person’s race.
This sort of racism has also been around a long time, but is usually referred to in terms of race pride or ethnocentrism rather than positive racism. For example, when members of the Klan talk about the superiority of the white race, they are exhibiting positive racism.
Positive racism is having an impact in the current conflict between Obama and Clinton. Followers of Clinton have claimed that black people are supporting Obama simply because he is black-thus accusing them of positive racism. Meanwhile, Clinton seems to be quite willing to cash in on the positive racism of white voters.
Interestingly, the gender issue has helped to fuel racism. To be specific, the contest between Clinton and Obama has served to put gender against race in a contest over which is the greater source of victimhood. Gloria Steinhem claimed that “gender is probably the most restricting force in American life”, thus setting the stage for the conflict over race and gender. After all, if gender is the most restricting force, then it follows that race is not as important as gender. Because of this sort of view, many feminist supporters of Clinton were quite dismayed about the support Obama has been receiving from black women. Presumably, these feminists think that black women should be more concerned with gender than race. This attitude no doubt has led some, such as Ferraro, to make remarks that might be construed as racist.
So, on the downside, racism is alive and well in America. On the plus side, racism is being openly discussed and is being addressed. While it might be disheartening to see race in the news so much, it is actually good that it is being exposed to the light of inquiry. After all, admission of a problem is the first step towards solving that problem.