Race and gender are significant factors in the United States. Not surprisingly, people are sometimes pulled one way by their political values and another by their race or gender concerns. The Republicans are hoping to cash in on the gender pull exerted by Sarah Palin. The Democrats are hoping to cash in on the race pull exerted by Obama.
While many blacks are Democrats, there are numerous black Republicans. Naturally enough, some of them feel pulled towards Obama even though they disagree with his political values. This, of course, raises the question of what such Republicans should do.
One possibility is that they should vote for Obama because he is black. After all, many thinkers have argued that minorities (and women) need to support their own in order to fight back against past and present oppression. As such, black Republicans should vote for Obama because they and he are black.
One problem with this view is that it, obviously enough, seems to be racist. If white voters vote for McCain because of white solidarity, they would be considered racist. As such, for a black person to vote for Obama simply because he is black would be racist as well. Of course, it could be argued that there is a relevant difference between whites supporting a white and blacks supporting a black. Whites, one might say, are not an oppressed group and blacks are. Hence, the situations are different in a way that would make voting for Obama because he is black non-racist.
Another problem is that voting for someone (white or black) because of the color of his skin seems to go against Dr. King’s dream. To base one’s judgment on skin color would be, ironically enough, a step away from that dream. Naturally, it could be argued that having a black man in the White House would have such a positive effect that it would justify supporting him even on grounds that are racist.
Another possibility is that they should vote for him not because he is black, but because he would make a difference that they would support. In this case, they would not be supporting him simply because he is black, but because of what he would do. This might seem to be a subtle difference, but it is actually quite significant. Naturally enough, the desire to support him would have to stem from shared values: they value his Democratic agenda. However, this would be problematic for most Republicans-if they supported his Democratic agenda, then they would be Democrats and not Republicans.
Yet another possibility is that they should vote for McCain because they disagree with Obama’s views and agree with McCain. While they might be accused by some of turning their backs on their fellow blacks, they would be acting in a way consistent with Dr. King’s dream: they would be making a judgment based on their values and not on the color of a person’s skin. While it could be argued that as blacks they should vote for Obama, that could be seen as an attack on their values and their right to chose as individuals. To be guided solely by race would be, obviously enough racist. To be guided by one’s values (even if they might be regarded by some as mistaken) would be moving beyond race. After all, people should vote for the candidate who matches their values rather than the one who matches their skin color. This is why some white people should vote for Obama and some black people should vote for McCain.