Kathy Petersen’s Blog

Racism and Sexism in Presidential Politics

Posted in Uncategorized by Kathy on June 16, 2008

Ok, so this post is just a tad out-dated, since Hilary Clinton has officially conceded defeat, but I should have written this some time ago, and am just now getting around to it.

Throughout the campaign, there has been talk about the sexism factor with Hilary’s Presidential bid, and the racism factor with Obama’s Presidential bid. I’m not discounting that there has been sexism or racism by some people in how they decided who to vote for in the primaries, nor how they may vote in the general election. But what gets me, is that it seems that these two candidates want(ed) it both ways. Or, at least, that Hilary was glad enough to get the women’s vote simply because she was a woman (which is as sexist as not voting for her simply because she was a woman), and that Obama didn’t decline any votes made by blacks simply because he is also black (which is equally racist as voting for John McCain simply because he is white).

Several months ago, I read a blog in which a feminist was beginning to whine and cry about how that Hilary was not further ahead, or wasn’t getting the female vote, or that Obama had just taken the lead — or whatever the thing was. She made some comment along the lines of, “Women should support Hilary, just because she’s a woman.” Blatant sexism!

And then there’s this article, which I just skimmed, that says that a lot of black conservatives want to vote for Obama simply because he’s black too…. but they don’t know if they can ignore his political views in order to do so. I can understand that. I disagree with it — profoundly — but I understand it.

Might John McCain need to pick a black running mate, so that black conservatives don’t jump ship? I mean, McCain needs all the votes he can get! There are so many conservatives (including myself) who are not at all thrilled with the possibility of voting for him, and may just sit out the election or vote for a third-party candidate. If McCain picks a conservative enough running mate, I might be able to vote for the ticket; but I’m pretty sick of voting for the lesser of two evils, because it seems that all we’ve gotten is more evil. I hope Obama loses (and when Hilary was still in it, I hoped she wouldn’t win the Presidency, either), but I can’t vote for McCain.

So, does racism come into play in this Presidential race? Yep. But it also works both ways! And I have yet to hear Barack Obama tell his fellow African-Americans not to vote for him because of his skin color, but to make their decision based solely on the politics and his political viewpoint. And while McCain may get some votes out of racism, I think that Obama will get just as many votes if not more, out of racism.

Some people may call it “reverse racism” or “reverse discrimination” or “reverse sexism,” but those are false terms. If it’s racism, discrimination, or sexism, then it is that thing regardless of who is doing the discrimination and who is being discriminated against. Here’s the way I look at things — if you reverse the races (for instance, white people voting for John McCain just because he’s white), and it sounds racist… then it’s just as racist for you to be voting for Obama simply because he’s black; and it’s just as sexist for you women to have voted for Hilary Clinton just because she’s female. If white people vote for McCain simply because he’s white, that’s as racist as black people voting for Obama simply because he’s black. Period. End of story.

And if you’re a black person (or African-American, if you prefer — I don’t want to offend either way) reading this blog, and you’re going to vote for Barack Obama simply because he’s black (even if you don’t agree with his politics), then you are perpetrating the very racism that you claim to hate and want to do away with.

I remember watching the Cosby Show, and A Different World when I was a kid and a teenager, and of course Oprah! (Actually, most of the shows that I liked then were black shows — Fresh Prince, Family Matters, Living Single…) And I remember a lot of talk about being “color-blind” and a series of shows Oprah did on racism. It had to be 15 years ago. But you know what? It still applies.

So, to you black conservatives who may be seriously considering voting for Barack Obama simply because he is black, even if you don’t like all of the liberal stuff he has voted for in his career, and all of the liberal stuff he’s advocating now as the Democratic candidate for President — I say you’re racist. Understandably so; but racist nonetheless.

The choice for President should be based on what the candidates stand for. When Alan Keyes or some other conservative black ran for office, I don’t recall hearing Republicans saying, “Black people just need to vote for him because he’s black.” I understand that Obama has a great amount of appeal, with his personality and presentation; plus, he is the Democratic candidate for President, so he has at least a 50-50 chance of winning, which is more than Alan Keyes or any other black person has been able to say. I understand it’s tempting to vote for him. But if you do, make sure it’s because you agree with him, and not just because of the color of his skin. Remember Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a Dream” speech? It included this famous line, “a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man’s skin determines the content of his character.” I’m afraid that some people are saying that the color of Barack Obama’s skin determines the content of his character, because some conservatives are courting the idea of voting for him despite his thoroughly consistent liberal views and voting record.

You don’t want to vote for John McCain? That’s fine — I don’t either. Depending on who he picks as his running mate, I may vote for him, but probably not (the names of potential running mates that I’ve heard have been kicked around are too liberal for me, as well). But I ain’t voting for Obama, either! I’m planning on trying to find who all the third-party candidates may be, and I’ll try to pick the best one of them — regardless of race or gender.

Vote your conscience, not your skin color.

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