Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The Clarion Content has been writing on and following opinions about the effect on the presidential race of Senator Barack Obama's race for some time. We have long feared the so called Bradley effect, that claims Obama's considerable lead in the polls could evaporate on election day as covert racism comes out behind the curtain of the polling booth.
Is it an unfounded fear?
Here are links to two wildly divergent opinions, the first from Frank Rich in the New York Times who comes to "white America's" defense. Rich claims that just because McCain and Palin are running a campaign that at times panders to America's baser, coarser, possibly racist instincts does not mean America is what they project it to be. He cites the disappearance of Virginia Senator George Allen from the political scene after a racial slur as proof. He reads polls that say Obama is winning among white males, something no Democratic candidate has done in the last 30 years. He says that the anthropologically tilted stories of the media have created a self-fulfilling cycle of coverage about race's role in the campaign. He cites and then ignores, Obama's fellow Democrat John Murtha's admission that his own Pennsylvania district is a "racist area." When has Frank Rich, once a theater critic, last traveled, not simply off of Manhattan island via jet plane, but to the kind of southern Virgina or western Pennsylvania towns he says are being unfairly maligned as racist? Why are so many of Senator McCain and the Republican National Committee's ads about Obama as "other" or "different?" The implication of race is as strong as ever. Is Rich right that this is a failure to understand America in the 21st century by Senator McCain and the Republican National Committee or is it a failure by a Manhattan media elite liberal, Frank Rich, to understand the rest of America?
German news magazine Die Welt sees race and the presidential race from just the opposite perspective. In a commentary published this week they ask how is it that 75% of Americans disapprove of George Bush the II's policies yet are not supporting Barack Obama in those kind of numbers. Die Welt concludes the answer is racism. Citing Governor Palin's line on Senator Obama, "This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America,” Die Welt sees overt and covert attacks on Obama the human that raise the specter of racial politics. They dissect Fox News's coverage and high ratings to show America's willingness to see white news reporters question dark skinned politicians and members of the media in language reminiscent of Jim Crow. The outline how rather than criticize Obama for his policy proposals Obama is attacked for "otherness" and "arrogance."
Which view of America is right? Probably neither in total.
The Clarion Content believes that America is having to take a long look in the mirror and examine itself. Are we the meritocracy, the shining beacon to the world we think we are?
The Clarion repeats our hope that, "whichever candidate wins on November 4th, America will get a leader who wants to unite people, to raise them up and bring out their best selves, not a leader who uses his election to divide people and bring out their worst, smallest selves."
Let us abandon the myopia of, "I win, therefore, you lose."