Given the survey results regarding Obama and McCain, the best evidence seems to show that race is not a major factor for most Americans. I obviously would not say that we have “transcended” race or that race has no impact at all on how people are making their political decisions. However, race matters much less than in the past and this seems to be a mark of moral progress in America.
While McCain and Palin have been accused of trying to bring race into the race, McCain has clearly taken steps to try to keep the focus on Obama’s ties to Ayers rather than to allow a slippery slope slide from “palling around with a terrorist” into racism. I don’t think that McCain wants to make use of race. First, he seems to be a decent person and has little tolerance for intolerance. Second, he is a smart enough politician to know that while racism might get a few votes, it will also lose many more.
Interestingly, it has been the Democrats who seem to be running into problems regarding racism. Most recently, John Murtha called Western Pennsylvania racist. Other Democrats and Obama supporters have also alleged racism on the part of people in that region and there was, of course, Obama’s infamous remark about how such people are bitterly clinging to God, guns and racism.
Obviously enough, accusing people of being racist is not an effective way to win votes. Hence, Murtha recently apologized for his remarks and the Obama camp is being more careful about making accusations of racism. There is also the matter of perception: the more left leaning Democrats are often seen as obsessed with race and gender and the squabbling over race and gender in the primaries did not help. Not surprisingly, this perceived obsession does not play that well with mainstream America-in part, because it seems to (ironically) be based in racism and sexism. When it is implied (or claimed) that people are supporting McCain just because he is a white man, then it is implied that his supporters must be racist or sexist (or both). However, this is not the case. Most people support McCain because they agree with his views or find him more appealing than Obama. While my friends and associates are not a representative sample, the people I know who support McCain do so because they think he has more experience and they share his conservative views. They would support him even against any liberal-even a white, male liberal.
So, race is still a factor-but it is now often a factor because people are being (often unfairly) accused of being racist.
I have been to western PA, and trust me, Murtha wasn’t lying. At Indiana University of Pennslyvania I hear constant reports of racism. But I get what you are saying though. Race is only an issue if they want it to be.
I beg to differ – race is still a huge issue and will continue to be. A recent Associated Press/Yahoo News poll indicated that race is absolutely a factor in this election, and reports “…a substantial portion of white Americans still harbor negative feelings toward blacks…”. How that can be and race not be a factor, I just don’t know…
To claim that people are not voting for Obama because they are racists – is silly! The racist would be the person voting for Obama because he IS Black! It would be like saying I wouldn’t vote for Hillary because she is a woman. I am a woman! I would love to see a woman do a darn good job in the White House – just as Margaret Thatcher did for so many years in England. Can another race or sex do the job – of course. Therefore, I vote for my candidate because of his or her qualifications and the fact that I agree with their basic beliefs and values – because they ARE similar to mine – NOT on skin color or sex. If a conservative black or any other race (man or woman!) won the Republican slot AND I agreed with their views – they would have my vote. I do not vote my party – I vote the individual – Just as I would
align my vote with the Democrat party if their candidate had my similar beliefs, confirmed by their voting record. It is important as a voter to do your homework.
Why does Murtha have to apologize for the truth? Have you ever been to western PA? I have. We were driving through the western part of the state in Spring 2003 and stopped at a gas station. It was not a self-service station. I don’t know what town we were in but it was small. We were the only ones at the gas station. The attendant took a long time to come to our car. When I got out of the car to see what was taking so long, the attendant came up to me and told me there was another gas station about 10 miles south of where I was. I asked him if he had any gas. Guess what this jerk said? He said “yeah, but I ain’t giving none to you people.” I told him thanks for letting me know. We got the hell out of western PA fast. Murtha is right and he shouldn’t have to apologize for what he knows is the truth. So sick of racists hiding behind their hate with a bunch of excuses.
I am really sorry to feel this way, as I would have hoped that this issue would have changed in my 53 years of life, but I’m afraid it hasn’t, and that many segments of our population are still racist enough to cause Sen. Obama to lose this election. In a close election, this may make the difference. Unfortunately, I witnessed firsthand an example of this. In 2006, Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., an extremenly bright and capable legislator from Memphis lost his run for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Fred Thompson. I am convinced that he lost to Bob Corker, former mayor of Chattanooga, as a direct result of a last-minute ad simply showing some white females at some type of bar or party, looking into the camera and saying (and I paraphrase), “Come on Harold. Let’s have some fun”. That’s all it took. To his credit, not once has Rep. Ford ever hinted that this caused him to lose the election. But I am convinced that it did. By the way, if you’re interested, Harold Ford, Jr. is now a political analyst for MSNBC.
Wendy Middleton says
I am a Pennsylvanian, living on the family farm that has been in the family for over 200 years. Pennsylvania has two accurate descriptions – the name Pennsyltucky and the description that PA is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in the rest of the state. When I married into this family of farm people, it took me five years to break then of using the “N” word just for negative emphasis! PA is very racist, except in the two large areas of civilization. If you live here you know that Murtha ia right! if people can’t stand seeing themselves they should get a facelift!
Ed Nies says
I liked Murtha in “Throw Momma from the Train”. He was good playing that bitter old woman and looks like his acting helped get him a political job.
I bet the N-word has never come out of his mouth…never….never? Hypocrite!
As someone who moved from the east coast to w pa, John Murtha was absolutely right about western pa. It is the most racist place I’ve ever lived or visited including mississippi. It’s inhabited by european immigrants who workd in the steel mills and people who detest change. It was said by a former PIttsburgh mayor that if the end of the world came you’d be safe in Pittsburgh because it would be 10 years before the end got to Pittsburgh.
Stacey – you didn’t reveal whether you are white or non-white or whether the station attendants were white or non-white. I am white and had a similar experience several years ago in a small town outside Montgomery Alabama. I was with my family travelling to Florida on a Sunday. Decided to stop for gas before it got to be too late and pulled into a Mobil station which appeared to be open (large sign rotating and lit). The wife and kids went into the store for something to drink and I waited for the station attendants to pump my gas (no self serve). There were two black guys sitting on chairs leaning against the building, each wearing straw hats pulled down over their eyes. After a few minutes, I walked over and asked if I could get some gas. Their reply: “Ain’t got none”. I asked if there was another station close by and they said yes about a mile down the road. I found the station and went in. I asked if they had gas and they said sure. I then commented that I was glad to hear that because the station back about a mile had none. I suddenly was surrounded by several white men (one of whom was an Alabama trooper) who said that “those guys better not have sold gas to no white guy”. I got my gas, gathered my family and high tailed it out of Alabama as fast as the speed limit would allow. That was my first real experience with racists outside of my home in Connecticut. I didn’t like it at all. As far as Murtha is concerned, I wouldn’t expect anything different from him or any of his DemoCrap associates including the mindless Pelosi.
It should never be about race or gender. We all go through the same struggles as the rest of middle class america. It’s a time in the history of our great country that we have come to a milestone in morality, and it’s getting there. Our children are smart, wise, and competant. They see very well the way this country has been operated. They are our future, and they are voting now, and more than in the history of this country. We need economic strength, and we also need to relay a message to all citizens of this country that we will be an example for all nations, instead of a biased and reckless machine of old relic politics. We do not need to be in trillions of dollars of debt to other countries. We not only need to be fossil fuel independent, but we also need to be non-dependent on countries that wish for our failure and hatred against our people. The terrorists dont care if you are black, white, or any other race that are citizens of this country. This is the main arena where the bigotry of America stiffles our ability to be the best and this country with it’s transparent borders are a weak example of what our current Gov’t administration has dealt us. It time out for racism and time for intelligence. Forget empty apologies for the wrongs, when you do nothing to correct the wrongs. Our younger generations are rejecting the racist notions. Sen. Obama is a prime example of a man that is eloquent, smart, educated, and non biased. Some will argue this because of dirty campaign tactics mainly implemented by Republicans and their supporters but the votes and the records speak for themselves. People want a change from empty pockets and fleecing of their wealth by an administration that deregulated the most greedy men on the planet. They allowed American companies to outsource your job, then sell you the same products you used to build at inflated prices while they pay as little a $1 per hour in another country for worker labor. This country needs to become self sufficient, and even out the trade agreements instead of us buying everything we own from foreign countries. China is a communist country that doesnt like the democratic western way of life. They could systematically ( and do ) poison the American people and their pets. Total disregard for our nation and our incompetant politicians. A vote for Obama will set this restructuring of our country in motion.
Charles – you have some points correct but a little skewed on others. As far as outsourcing and dereg. I worked for a large jet engine mfg. in Conn. for 40 yrs. This is a company that works diligently to make a profit and inso doing makes their stockholders happy with a stock that does well (usually). This is called capitalism. Nobody in America works for free – we all want to reap the benefits of a successful corporation whether that be as a laborer or a CEO. If the CEO makes wise decisions he is rewarded. Dereg. allows co’s to capitolize on profits and create new jobs and new products. Yes its not all equal in dollar amounts for all involved. If it was we would all be CEO’s My company sold engines to foreign countries. In order to make the sale they had to agree to let some of the mfg. take place in that country. If not then no sale. A part of the job is better than none of the job. The unions want to see all mfg. done here in this country as it should be but unfortuately the cost of doing business here far exceeds the ability to make a profit and satisfy stockholders. Obama promises a lot of change; primarily to catch the eye of the middle class. His tax cuts as he proposes will not happen. Keep in mind that the rich are rich for a reason – they know how to HIDE their money. They won’t get taxed as promised because their money is sheltered. The only source remaining is tapping into the middle class incoomes because the middle class has little or no money to hide in sheltered accounts. All the money they have is used to survive everyday living. Any savings they have will be used to make up for the taxes they will be forced to pay. Obama hasn’t said anything about how he plans on making up for the revenue he will be unable to collect because of sheltered fortunes. Keep in mind: THE RICH ARE RICH BECAUSE THEY KNOW HOW TO MANAGE THEIR FORTUNES.
My family has ancestorial roots in western PA dating back to the late 1600, they escaped from France during the era when King Louis XIV enacted policies banning the practice of the Protestant religion. To this day, many generations later, the “racism” my ancestors escaped from seems to reappear again in other forms, attacking either another religion, race or both. It’s ironic that these generations now follow “codes” that in fact promote racism of any person who is not of white European ancestorial background, but yet they have many generations of family living in western PA because they escaped the county that tried to get them of them to begin with. You would think that history would of taught them to accept all human life, no matter the race or religion, but instead the hatred of ones race or religion just promtes that group to form it’s own version of “racism”
As a child growing up, the N being used as slang in everyday conversation is still going on today, it’s an accepted “code” in that area, if your white and you take offense to this, then your not really “white”. I left the area in my 20s because of course that area has NO JOBS – NO FUTURE, I believe in part due to this accepted “racism code” that we only take of our own. My HS was and still is to this day all white, any surrounding factory, industrial jobs they do have is all white, you get your jobs and “do what you gotta do to survive” because the only shot you have to survive in that area is to live by this stupid “racist code” that as far as I’m concerned is one of the most truthfull things Mutha has said in a long time. He was doing the Obama camp a favor by giving them this warning that people in certain areas will base their vote solely on race, and if they think this won’t affect the vote Nov 4 and they are all standing around with their jaws on the floor when McCain is announced as the next president, you can’t say you weren’t warned. People living by these codes will take the hit and suffer the effects of bad politics as long as they don’t have to look at a black president.
lissa in pittsburgh says
We all automatically cringe at Murtha’s words because they are harsh (“WOW. I can’t believe he said that on national TV”), but lets face it, its true. As a person living in western PA, I hear constant racial slurs and derrogatory terms against blacks and other races, both at my job and on the street; I am biracial but most people can’t tell my heritage. They share their racism thinking they are in safe company. Why the shock? Its because we’ve been conditioned and trained well not to say the wrong things in front of the wrong people–there are so many who have embraced diversity, but just as many deny on the surface while embracing racist thoughts and can’t believe that someone would say so publicly when its not “politically correct”. (The white robes of anononimity were so much safer.) Racism and discrimination plays a big role today not only in W PA but beyond, and anyone who says it doesn’t either lives in a sterile bubble with little to no exposure, refuses to see reality, or lies to save face for the sake of avoiding national exposure by association. Not all western Pennsylvanians are racist, but there are plenty that are that will be voting just for the sake of keeping a black man from being elected president–they just don’t tell you in mixed company.
Sorry, forgot to remind folks that Sen. Obama’s mother and his grandparents are white. It just happens that his skin color is darker than those of us of northern european ancestry. In a speach by President John Kennedy on June 11, 1963, he ssid:
“One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free. They are not yet freed from the bonds of injustice. They are not yet freed from social and economic oppression. And this nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.”
From their places in Heaven, John and Bobby Kennedy must be truly saddened as they see the limited extent of achievement of our country after 40 years..
Lastly, the first song that I remember from my childhood went: “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they’re all precious in his site. Jesus loves the little children of the worlfd.”
This country is still notoriously racist. Granted, thankfully, the vast majority of intelligent people (African American AND white) don’t have these narrowminded ideals. However, just watch any John McCain rally. You would think all of the klansmen of America decided to take off their sheets and sound off.
What’s “hilarious” is that “Arab” has supplanted “nigger” as the epithet dujour. They can’t call Obama a “nigger” but they can sure denigrate the entire middle eastern populace at will.
It is repulsive.
does no one know that McCain has an African American daughter!!! He’s NOT a racist or he and his wife would have NEVER adopted her. It’s beyond disgusting that anyone would ever say that about him. Thanks for your comments. Good read.