Thursday, October 18, 2007

Clinton or Obama? Black or White? Man or Woman?

The run up to the 2008 presidential elections is proving to be historic. For the first time, we have a woman candidate for president. For the first time, we have a black candidate who has more than a fair chance of winning (Alan Keyes, a Republican, has run in the primaries before, but has always been considered a long shot).

Questions swirl in the air. Should a woman president be automatically considered better for women than a male president? How will a woman president's governance be any different than a man's? Should there be any difference? Should voters be looking for differences at all? Should all women vote for Clinton? Should all blacks vote for Obama? Oprah has endorsed Obama. Should she have endorsed Clinton? Should Oprah = woman power = endorsement for Clinton? Did she endorse Obama because she is black? Should gender and color play any role in one's endorsements or voting choices? Will Oprah's endorsement actually carry any weight at all?

It's easy and appropriate to say voters and endorsers and sponsors should be blind to the candidates' gender or color, but considering that these events have never occurred before, voters are like kids in a candy store. Of course, it's quite another matter that after running around in the candy store, quite a few of them are still dissatisfied and are looking toward the horizon for someone more desirable.

Obviously, I'm not the only one pondering these questions. Consider these women in the beauty parlors of South Carolina "that are among the social hubs for black women."
Black women, Belk [a political scientist at Winthrop University who co-directed a recent study of black voters] said, are divided equally between Obama and Clinton, and significantly, perhaps a third are undecided.

"They stand at the intersection of race, class and gender," he said. "Black men say to them, 'Sister, are you with us?' and at the same time white women say, 'Sister, are you with us?'"
The entire article is an eye-opener when it comes to the quandry voters are facing next fall. But best of all, it threw some light on the thought process of 51 year-old Betty McClain, a bus driver,
[She said] she liked what she heard about Obama. But she likes Clinton, too. "She's already been president before," McClain said approvingly, dismissing Bill Clinton's role in his own administration. "He was just there," McClain said of Mr. Clinton. "He was just the husband, that's all. She really ran the country."
It made my day.


Bhel Puri & Seekh Kabab said...

Hey- it was funny how the NY Times and the Washington Post ran essentially the same articles the same week.

They make interesting points. However, color me cynical, but I can't help thinking, "isn't this the latest version of the soccer-mom story?"

In other words, in the 2000 elections (and possibly the 2004) we had the soccer mom as the demographic du jour. Now that terroris*m has been talked out, what do the news media come up with as the next demographic angle?



Sujatha said...

BPSK, but you must agree that the combination of new variables this election is quite heady. Whatever demographic you pick (remember the NASCAR dads?), they have some new cud to chew on this time around.

I remember the WP article too, but I really liked the quote in this one. It was hilarious!

Also, I meant to respond to your comment on the missing Indian TV post - we totally missed the preview button too. No "Info" or "Guide" button. It took quite a while to get used to not having it. I think programming is still a little bit erratic to come up with guides and set it in stone.

bird's eye view said...


Read your Uluru article in Mint this weekend. Very interesting. As regards this post - it is going to be an interesting election within the democratic party itself - think of the fun if either Barack or Hillary had been republican! This election is going to be watched with keen interest by people all over the world.

Sujatha Bagal said...

BEV, thanks! :)

And yeah! That would have been a lot of fun. As I mentioned, Alan Keyes ran for the Republican party before, but it never caught fire as Obama's campaign has.

I said...

Obama is black. Okay, half-black but for the purposes of politics, he has identified himself as a black.

Blacks bloc-vote Democrat Illinois is a safe Blue state. Obama has no unique selling point. And even if he wins the primaries, he cannot win the presidential elections.