Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Questions I wished got asked to Presidential candidates...

It's a day before the Iowa Caucuses. And there's been a lot of attention to race and gender, particularly around two of the leading Democratic candidates.

So here's a series of questions I wish would get asked at some point in the run-up to November 2008:

"Mr. Edwards/Biden/Romney/Giuliani/McCain/Huckabee/Paul (fill in the blank), could you please tell us what it's like to run as a white American male candidate? Do you think you are "white" and "male" enough to get the white American vote? Will non white-American male voters be able to relate to your whiteness and maleness? Do you think your white maleness may be a hindrance in foreign policy issues with respect to world leaders who are not white and/or male? And finally, how did your white male privilege influence the kind of politician you have become and the kind of presidency you will have?"


Steve said...

Interesting points. I believe these type of questions could have been posed throughout history, i.e., "Caesar, how did the fact that you were raised in a priveleged household affect your view of Rome, its classes and the solutions to its problems?" The ruling class, by definition, almost always produces the rulers.

Secondly, while it would be good for the candidates to think about how their "maleness" and "whiteness" affect their thinking , I would not have too high of hopes for revealing answers. Even if the candidates wanted to be open and introspective, they would likely suffer from the "fish in water" syndrome. Our environment shapes what we believe in ways that are undiscoverable.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the comment Steve. I suspect you are right--that if actually posed these questions the candidates would reply with fairly staid/canned answers.

I think what I was trying to get at was the way in which so much emphasis is placed on non-normative/minority racial categories, so much so that "whiteness" as a racial category gets taken for granted. (Ok, maybe this is all too obvious).

So by thinking about the kinds of questions that candidates would have to answer about things they take, and we take, for granted, well, instead of having endless debates and questions over whether we're ready for a black President or female President, or NY Times articles about Obama's bi-raciality, how about some attention to whiteness and maleness and how that construction has for so long informed how we see power, namely, in the form of the President of the U.S.