Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Post-racial? What does that mean?

I am so proud of my country, my party, and my new President-elect.

The election coverage? Not so much.

I understand what these talking heads are trying to say when they describe Barack Obama as "Post-Racial". I don't think it's a partisan term, in that it could also be applied to Governor Bobby Jindal (R) of Louisiana. But would they apply that term to any white candidate? If the term "Post-Racial" only applies to minority candidates or office holders, does it really mean what they think it means? Or does it mean a candidate who doesn't run on his/her race but gets tons of attention for it from talking heads with too much time to fill bloviating?

Sure, President-elect Obama's race makes this election even more historic, but can't we also admit that the race issue was probably a push, with racists and those wanting to vote based on reverse racism/ racial guilt probably canceling each other out? Let's face it; when you take race out of it you have a brilliant, exciting, young, incredibly talented candidate running a nearly perfect campaign at a time when people are desperate for change and rejecting the party in power. Of course we elected Barack Obama. The very fact that it's been close has been disheartening, not because it was a sign of racism, but because it showed that so many vote based on party branding rather than issues. Sure, some folks vote based on principles, but many of those are essentially identity politics, too. Take abortion as an example. If that's your single issue, are you voting for the Republican Party because they have delivered you anything except slightly higher rates of abortion whenever they hold the White House? Or, on the flip side, are you voting based on Universal Health Care? How much have the Democrats produced while running with that as a stated goal? No, even these single issue voters are voting for the party that stands with them, not the party that has done something substantive for them. This relates directly to the race issue. Most overt racists were in one party or the other and wouldn't switch because of race, and my guess is that the number of racists, either overt or subconscious, who made their choice based on the color of Obama's skin probably crossed that line and passed an equal number of folks coming the other way for the opposite reason.

Race does not explain this election. Not by a long shot.

On February 17th of 2007, I wrote this at my blog on the Barack Obama website: "I made a screen shot of Senator Obama's page which showed me as one of his friends. When he's finishing his second term my son will be 12, and I'll be able to show him the picture and say, 'Yes, President Obama and I go waaaay back.' I desperately hope that my son won't be able to remember or even imagine the state of moral decay of the presidency before President Obama took office. I fear that it will take all of the president's energy to undo the damage that has been done by this administration, but I think Senator Obama (I mean, my pal Barack) has the character and intelligence to pull it off."

Well, more than a year and a half later, despite the talking heads spending much of tonight talking about (my pal) Barack's ethnicity, I still think this election was won due to his intelligence and character. I still think it's going to take eight years to clean up Bush's mess, and I still believe President Obama can do it.

This election isn't about a post-racial candidate. It's the story of a majority of post-racial voters who, without feigning some idiotic affected racial blindness, cast our ballots for the best person for the job.

I'm sure there are a lot of post-racial voters on the Republican side of this election, too. But if they looked beyond race and party branding and chose McCain, they unfortunately chose someone who couldn't look beyond his party base this time around, and greatly diminished himself over the course of this campaign. He sided with a party whose most honest strategists openly admit it benefits from lower voter turn-out and heightened fear within the electorate. McCain has been a great man in the past, but he gambled on the Republican base vs. the middle.

Americans chose to vote.

Americans chose to be brave.

That's why Barack Obama is President-elect.

And that's why, to paraphrase our new First Lady, I'm prouder of my country tonight than I've ever been before.

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