Friday, December 28, 2007

Race and Politics -- Part III

I'm going to steal this idea from Rachel's Tavern, where she posted a serious question for everyone:

Who are you planning to support in the upcoming Presidential primary/election?

And I don't necessarily mean who do you plan to vote for (there were some slightly snarky comments that pointed out that her question was meant only for those eligible to vote in the upcoming elections), I really mean regardless of whether you are eligible or plan to vote (although let me put in a plug for the civic process and say if you are eligible, please REGISTER TO VOTE--PLEASE VOTE IN THE PRIMARIES AND THE UPCOMING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION--SERIOUSLY, IT'S THE ONE TIME I DO GET VERY NATIONALISTIC/PATRIOTIC AND BELIEVE THAT IT'S INCUMBENT ON ANYONE WHO CAN VOTE TO VOTE. ONE ONLY HAS TO LOOK AT THE 2000 GORE/BUSH ELECTION TO UNDERSTAND THAT TRULY EVERY VOTE COUNTS.)

Where was I?

Oh yes, I am curious what you think about the upcoming Presidential race (even if you only clicked on accidentally, for example, if you typed in "I love Asian women" hoping to find something salacious and instead found my post about anti-Orientalism and castigating people for sexualizing Asian women--no joke, that post gets a lot of hits and I'm not sure it's by people who are Project Runway fan).

There were some at Rachel's Tavern (click here for her original question) who really felt that it didn't matter who was President, at least they seemed to insinuate this by their lumping of the 3 Democratic frontrunners together (and the largely dismissive nature of the entire Republican pool) and by a few folks saying they were supporting Green Party candidates (although, again, we see what happened in Florida and Ohio in 2000 and while I like the Green Party I really don't want to see a repeat of what happened in 2000 happen in 2008 because I (and I'm sure millions if not billions of people around the world) want an end to the madness).

Actually, I am very curious for people who are living in the U.S. and who are unable to vote (like my many academic colleagues who are from China, Canada, Britain, Jamaica, among other places) or for those of you few readers outside the U.S. who have a much different take on U.S. politics--how much do you care, in France, in Brazil, in Malaysia who the next President of the United States is?

And because this is a blog about Mixed Race America--for those of you who care about this topic, how important is the next president for a mixed-race America? Clearly Obama embodies the essence of a mixed race America in his biography, but that's not the reason I'm supporting him. (I did talk about why I finally threw my support behind him after doing some research and you can read about it in some May blog posts if anyone is curious enough to dig them up).

I had the father of one of my friends castigate a group of us (we were all women) for not supporting Hillary Clinton and chiding us that we were voting against our own self-interest by not supporting a woman to be the next president. He said that if we were really feminists we would vote for her. This kind of argument drives me crazy! It's like saying I have to be friends with the only other Asian American person in my classroom or that I must support all Chinese Americans running for public office because of our shared ethnicity. So just because Obama is black doesn't necessarily mean that he's going to be the best anti-racist president (interestingly enough there was a study done about the racial diversity of the staffs of the top 3 candidates in each party and Hillary Clinton had, by far, the most diverse staff--in fact, she was the only one who had less than 50% white staffers and she had the most representation among all racial groups, including a perceptible Native American staff presence).

OK, I meant to make this brief but again got carried away. So really, what I'm curious about is: who would you like to see in the White House in 2009 and why and if you want to share your thoughts about how the candidates line up under issues of race/anti-racism, I'd love to hear your perspectives as well.


CVT said...

Hmm . . . The arena of politics - and the presidential election, specifically - is one of those areas where my negativity rules. Thus, my response is: it just doesn't matter who I support in the upcoming elections, because the running of Obama and Clinton for the Democratic Party only GUARANTEES a Republican win. And as there will NEVER be a Republican candidate that can even slightly represent MY interests, that's that.

Why do I believe this? Because I've lived in this country enough - Midwest, California, Oregon - to know what people pretend and what they DO. As an ambiguous mixed person, I have been around plenty of "liberal" white folks as they make racist statements. As a male, I am around plenty of "liberal" sexism.

Both scenarios make it clear to me that - no matter what people will SAY about who they support or will vote for - there are not enough white people out there willing to vote for a person of colour. There are not enough men (OR women, for that matter) willing to vote for a woman. And that's that. As the election looms, we'll see the results of all sorts of surveys and polls showing us how the Dem candidate has great support and a real chance. And then we'll see the REAL results after the election - when half the people who said they were going to support that candidate actually do not.

Does that mean I won't vote? No. I just don't particularly think my vote will count for anything (especially in this white state of Oregon, where I currently live).

And as a response to your previous post about whether or not anti-Obama would be worse than anti-Clinton, I think it's a no-brainer. The anti-Obama will be MUCH worse (underground). Although sexism is more obvious, racism runs deeper and more gut-level and brings out so much worse in people. Sexists still have female wives and mothers and sisters and cousins and friends (whether or not they really respect them). Racists have white wives and family who agree with them.

Tami said...

Oh, CVT. I hope you are not right.

I was discussing this with my parents just yesterday. As a black woman, I am well aware that racism and sexism still exist, but I also like to believe that, but for some extremists, most folks have their hearts and minds in the right place. Their hearts and minds might be tarnished by prejudice, but when faced with a choice between someone who will support their best interests and someone who won't...What am I talking about? Look at the last two elections. Sigh...this is making me depressed.

Actually, I hope that John Edwards gets the Dem nomination. I like his strong stand for the middle class, and against poverty and the corporatocray. Obama is a close second.

Jennifer said...

I too want to believe that people are not as extreme in their views about racism and sexism, but then you read these comments on certain blogs (I just read the ones on the Politco blog that followed the article about Asian American youths leaning towards voting Democrat in the "Finale" post) and it's so discouraging--the racist rhetoric.

But perhaps these are the few and marginal and not the rational majority.

At any rate, I do think that people want to be able to talk about race issues--to understand them better--even the knee jerk reaction guys want to. We just really do have to figure out the space and language to do this in a civil manner.

Meanwhile, in the land of election and campaigns, these things become so prominent because they are literally embodied by two of the candidates. And I do think that it says something about where we are and the progress we've made that both Clinton and Obama are viable candidates--even if there are people attacking them on fundamentals (their race/gender).

I know I'm grasping at a silver lining, but it's just too discouraging not to try to find one and I can't fall into the pit of despair just yet.

After all, there are people, like CVT and Tami who even bother to comment let alone read my small musings on race. So thanks!

Hilaire said...

Hey, I read your musings on race - thanks for them! (I am just a quiet lurker.)

But I will unquiet myself for the moment to answer your question about what people from outside the US think of the US election. I'm a Canadian. I care. A lot. As do many Canadians I know. It sometimes feels as if we are more interested in US politics than our own, here. Because we recognize the way this shapes, well, everything about our own lives, and the global politics we are witness to and immersed in. We are, for instance, in Afghanistan (sad to say) for a reason that has everything to do with US politics...

I must admit that I'm one of those people who finds it really strange (and scary) that there is essentially this locked-up two-party system there. And who scratches her head at the fact that the left is seen to be represented by Democrats ('cause how left is that?). But I'm still watching, and hoping, in a strange, conflicted way, for a non-Clinton Democrat.

Sorry I'm a few days late - just catching up. Happy New Year!

Jennifer said...

Thanks so much for chiming in (and for being a quiet lurker on this blog) on your Canadian perspective about our U.S. elections. Yes, the two party system here seems oddly antiquated. I do wonder if there can ever be a more viable political party than either the Dems or Repubs. I actually just heard that Michael Bloomberg (NYC mayor) is contemplating a run for the office as a third party candidate, but U.S. voters don't seem to really go for those, mostly I think because the average America goes with the status quo.


Anyway, feel free to unquiet yourself anytime you like.