Friday, July 18, 2008

Can Racism Save America?

The New Yorker recently ran an issue with a controversial cover drawing of Barack Obama and his wife. This cover has raised a lot of questions about the perception of Obama in the popular mind. (The New Yorker's point was how Conservatives supposedly think of Obama.)

At the same time, Jesse Jackson made a remark that he thought was off-mic. He talked about doing to Obama what I had to do to pigs when I was a member of FFA in high school. (And no, that is not comparing Obama to a pig. Get over it.) Jackson's remark apparently reflects the feeling of a lot of the black power brokers in America, at least according to this article in the UK Mail online. The article goes on to analyze how this black backlash could hurt Obama in the Novermber election. (Coincidentally, Obama's remarks that generated Jackson's wrath are some of the few with which I can agree.)

In the book Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, the authors discuss polls and racism. When white citizens are asked their opinions about a black candidate, they will often lie to pollsters, saying they will vote for the black candidate, so that they will appear "color-blind" to the pollsters. In the privacy of the voting booth however, where no one can see their vote, they will then cast their ballot for the other (supposedly white) candidate.

In other words, either conscious or unconscious racism prevents many whites from voting for a black candidate, even though they claimed that race didn't matter in their choice.

With apparent race-based prejudice from both blacks and whites against Obama, is it possible that the polls as we see them now are inflated for Obama? Could it be that this fall's Presidential election will be much different than we have been led to expect by the polls and the media? Could a whole lot of people who claim to support Obama now secretly vote against him in November? (In addition to all of those voters who are against Obama for purely political, philosophical or issue-related reasons.)

Something to think about.

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