When Democratic party presidential candidate Barack Obama ran for president in 2008, he attracted a huge 95% of votes from black voters, part of a wave of support that swept the senator from Illinois over the finish line to victory. Indeed, support among black voters for the president still remains high.
Amid the hubris of the most expensive election campaign in history, top Mitt Romney surrogate John Sununu in late October hinted that former Secretary of State Colin Powell may have endorsed President Barack Obama in part because the two men are the same race.
Are the president’s black supporters racist to vote for a (half-) black candidate?
An initial question to consider at this point is: Would you vote for an evangelical candidate such as Sarah Palin or Rick Santorum? If not, the reason may be, "because s/he is a religious evangelical." Fair enough. This position should not open you up to criticism.
Would you vote for a strong conservative, as opposed to supporting a more liberal candidate?
Again, if you wouldn’t because you don’t support conservative values, fair enough.
There are millions of Christians in America who vote for evangelical candidates like Santorum “because he's Christian” (and has Christian values). There are also Mexicans who vote for Latino candidates “because s/he is Latino”, and women (and men) who voted for Hillary Clinton "because she's a woman". Do these voting preferences open up these particular voters to charges of religious intolerance, racism or sexism? For some people, perhaps the answer is "yes."
Personally, I don't think so. Black voters’ support for president Obama needs to be interpreted and analyzed at a deeper level than just being a comment about skin color/pigmentation. I think the key point is that voter preference for political candidates is primarily based on 1/ identification (similar values), and 2/ which candidate a voter thinks best understands and is most capable of representing them.
Not surprisingly at all, this candidate is probably going to be someone who is most like the voter.
Which is the main reason I am not surprised or shocked by the groundswell of black voters who supported Obama in 2008, or the millions who are supporting him now.
Candidate Obama locked up the black vote in 2008. Is it realistic to assume many black voters would think that a rich white woman like Hillary Clinton or a wealthy white male like John McCain was best able to represent black communities and their issues as president? No. I believe they voted for candidate Obama precisely "because he was black" – and because they believed Obama understood and identified with many of their issues.
The pertinent point here is that due to the fact that race-related issues set many people off, basing a vote on a candidate’s ethnicity or skin color may look like racism on the surface, but when you dig a little deeper, I think it's easy to see it's nothing of the sort. In fact, one can substitute ”black” in "because he was black" with virtually any candidate/physical/human characteristic and you will have exactly the same dynamic occurring except it probably has a different name and either has more or less of a negative connotation.
Do the above make the black voters who voted for Obama racist? Not in my book. It simply means they identified with Obama and thought he best understood them and was the most ideal candidate to represent them as president.
And the kicker is: this is natural. Why would we vote for someone who we think is not like us or who we think doesn't understand us and the problems we face?
The key question now becomes: What is the difference between a black voter who chooses to support a political candidate “because s/he is black” and another voter who supports a candidate "because they are religious/Atheist/Mormon/Latino/male/female/white/rich/a war veteran/homosexual/green"?
Are they all "[fill in the gap]-ist" and now a prime target to be slammed?
I do not believe so. If we see fit to criticize them, we should criticize ourselves because we all do it.
Granted, there may be some race-based ill will that leads a black voter to vote for a black candidate, but it can be argued that there is equal if not greater ill will between voters on different sides of issues such as gay marriage, abortion and immigration.
The key point to realize here is that race is only one facet of the multi-faceted diamond of voter preferences. Which at the end of the day makes black voters who vote for black candidates just like the rest of us who vote with our hearts.© Japan Today