Hillary Clinton

The Unbearable Whiteness of Being

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The Hotline's senior editor John Mercurio has a little smoke blown his way in a story about (among other things) whether Americans would elect a black president.

[Black Democrat Robert] Ford said a national ticket featuring Obama in 2008 would be a significant drag on Democrats up and down state ballots, hurting the party as it struggles to hold slim majorities in Congress and pick up governor's offices in red states like Indiana and Missouri. He also said it would be unwinnable. "He'd have to get 47 to 49 percent of the white vote in every state, and that's humanly impossible," Ford said, accusing Obama of falling prey to "ego."

Here's the problem with that: Forty-seven or 49 percent of the white vote would be unusually high for a Democratic candidate. That's more than any Democrat has racked up since Lyndon Johnson bellowed his way past Barry Goldwater 43 years ago.

Check out the exit polling for John Kerry, who came within one state of winning the presidency in 2004. Kerry, who's got a pigment defict that puts Obama to shame, lost the white vote to George Bush by 17 points. That was a big step down from Al Gore, who won the popular vote while losing the white vote by 10 points. And that number's only as high as it is because 44 percent of white women voted for Kerry. Only 37 percent of white men did.

None of this should controversial (although since the journalist who spends the most time studying it is Steve Sailer, so it is). We have two political parties. One unites white conservatives, moderates and center-rightists; the other unites white liberals with liberal and conservative minority groups. (The third parties are overwhelmingly white.) Neither party wins by turning out or converting minority voters. Three-quarters of the electorate is white, and Republicans win by getting more than 55 percent of the white vote, while Democrats win by getting more than 45 percent of it. If Obama got 49 percent of that vote, he'd be winning the biggest Democratic landslide in two generations—56 or 57 percent of the popular vote, and probably more than 380 electoral votes. But the critical question is "Can he get 45 percent of it?" He got 66 percent of it in 2004, but he was running against Alan Keyes. Fun fact: That's 3 points better than Hillary Clinton did in 2006, running against a similarly pathetic (but white) candidate, John Spencer. Obama has a comfortable, emotional appeal to white voters, which makes him very dangerous for Republicans.

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  1. Obama is easily the most electable Democratic candidate at this point. All he needs is a slight increase on John Kerry’s numbers. None of the states that went Kerry will go Republican JUST because Obama is black, and Obama can easily win a state like Ohio which was Red in 2004.

  2. I guess that the fact that Don “No Soul” Simmons is blacker than Obama can’t hurt.

  3. Steve Sailer–the Sam Francis of the 2000s.

  4. Barack Hussein Obama needs to be more than “electable” to win. He’ll need to change his name to Tiger. Or at least Colin.

  5. President Dean begs to differ.

  6. I don’t think Democrats have to worry about alienating the south with Obama or Hillary–its not like they are seriously competing there on the national level anyway.

    Who they would alienate with those choices, however, are purple states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio. If they nominate either you can mark my words all three of those states go into the Republican colum.

  7. I noticed that the “comments” link has disappeared from the main blog page.

  8. Ok, I guess I just happened to catch webmaster updating something or another. Never mind.

  9. Barack Hussein Obama needs to be more than “electable” to win.

    Not if John Hitler Doe snags the Republican nomination.

  10. There’s a wild card that those who speculate about a black Presidential candidate play with. There’s folk wisdom that voter turnout among African-Americans would approach 100% of eligible voters. I don’t have the figures, but my seat-of-the-pants guess would be that merely putting an A-A on the ticket won’t overcome the various procedural and cultural factors that depress minority registration and turnout. Even if it could, it might not actually flip many red states to blue, as our black population is concentrated in urban areas that are already reliably Democratic. The best argument for such a nomination helping the Democrats was the power-change in the Senate after the 1986 elections. The Dems made a recovery in the South, largely by appealing to the black vote. Whether enough new voters could be convinced to register and actually make it to the polls or vote absentee would be key.

    Kevin

  11. “He’d have to get 47 to 49 percent of the white vote in every state . . .”

    Another problem with this is, for the states that he will lose, whether he gets more or less than 47% of the white vote therein is irrelevant. He’ll get zero electoral votes in those states no matter the demographic breakdown.

  12. Caesar,

    Depends on who the Republicans nominate. It’s always easy to say that so-and-so can’t possibly win when his opponent is a flawless hypothetical.

  13. Hillary will bring more angry white male voters out of the woodwork than Obama. Some of them may not like the idea of a black president, but all of them go bat shit crazy at the thought of Hillary in the Oval Office.

  14. Anotheranon-

    That may be true for Obama, but as for Hillary there are TONS of people who would vote for anyone short of Stalin or Osama bin Laden before pulling the lever for “Hitllary”.

    Obama has gotten very lucky in his political career–all his serious opponents in his Senate race self-destructed. This left a lone crazed man as his opponent (Alan Keyes), who is so reactionary he would make Millard Fillmore look progressive.

    Obama is un-tested, and an un-known. The fact that the MSM is having an orgasm over his candidacy is pretty pathetic.

  15. It’s always easy to say that so-and-so can’t possibly win when his opponent is a flawless hypothetical.

    And until Obama actually takes a stand, accomplishes something or addresses a real issue with more than broad generalizations, it is easy for everyone to say he’s a viable candidate!

  16. From a political calculation, it makes no sense for the Dems to nominate a black man. They already have the black vote, and they are the perceived favorite in 2008.

    It seems more likely that the GOP will play the “electable” card and go for someone like Condoleezza.

  17. I need to know:

    Am I going insane, or am I the only person on the planet that realizes that calling Obama white is just as valid as calling him black?

  18. Some of you need to maybe – uh – just live in the South before you can make assumptions that we would blindly dismiss Obama as a candidate. Are there racist extremist? – yes – we probably have the majority. But we are notably more practised in race-relations than some other parts of the country.

  19. I don’t know why I post on these threads anymore, but here I go…

    In 2007, the number of racists who would refrain from voting for a run-of-the-liberal like Obama solely on the basis of his father’s ancestry is so small as to be insignificant and is far exceeded by the number of racists who would vote for him solely on the basis of his father’s ancestry. Besides, not many goat-fucking KKK members would vote for a liberal anyway, regardless of skin tone.

    Can we get over this trite commentary already, though? The election is 22 months away, ferchrissakes.

  20. jf,

    Am I the only person on the planet that realizes that calling Obama white is just as valid as calling him black?

    Apparently. Most people have swallowed the “One-Drop” Rule hook line and sinker.

  21. Andy-
    I also find its funny that the one drop rule only works with black ancestry. Im part mexican, but everyone I know considers me to be white.

    Cracker-
    I live in Virginia. In 1989, we elected Doug Wilder–a black man–governor. However, he was supposed to win by about ten points, according to the pre-election polls. He only won by one point. That says to me there are a lot of closet racists out there.

  22. “Barack Hussein Obama”

    Ouch. Bummer of a middle name, there. At least the second letter of his last name isn’t an “s” — that would have sunk him for sure!

  23. “Are there racist extremist? – yes – we probably have the majority.”

    I have witnessed far more ignorant, stupid racism in the north than I ever did in the south.

  24. Caesar – That was 18 years ago. The second black governor was elected in 2006: Democrat Deval Patrick in Massachusetts. The last poll showed Patrick winning 55 percent to the Republican’s 34 percent. On election day Patrick won 56 percent and the Republican won 35 percent. Different state, of course, but Massachusetts has a checkered racial history and there was speculation that Patrick would lose his lead on e-day. So the “Wilder effect” may be dying out.

  25. “I also find its funny that the one drop rule only works with black ancestry. Im part mexican, but everyone I know considers me to be white.”

    Caesar,

    Well, first of all, Mexican is not a “race,” any more than American is. There’s plenty of white Mexicans, and most Mexicans are of mostly Caucasian blood. Of course there are those who think that Mexican is a “race” and that being Caucasian and being Hispanic are mutually exclusive things. Many of these people would not call a Spaniard or someone of completely Spanish ancestry “white” but instead call them “moreno” or “brown,” something that most Spaniards I’m sure would find rather offensive.

    Oh well. Sorry for the rant, it just bugs me that this country is incapable of having a sober discussion of “race” and “racial” categories.

  26. I don’t remember where I read this, but somebody suggested that if anyone gives Obama grief over the “Hussein” in his name, he could actually work that to his advantage if he’s clever enough. If he could grab the “people who hate their embarrassing middle names” vote he’d win in a landslide.

    Most people have swallowed the “One-Drop” Rule hook line and sinker.

    It just has to do with how much you look like the ethnic majority of a given country. A half-Caucasian, half-Vietnamese person would be considered “Asian-looking” in America, but “Caucasian-looking” in Vietnam. Obama looks black compared to totally white people, but I’m sure that in sub-Saharan Africa people think he looks white. BFD.

  27. Andy-

    For many people in this country, ‘Mexican’ is synonymous with ‘mestizo’, so I didn’t think it was necessary to use a more specific term.

    I agree the Hispanic category is one of the most stupid racial categories ever invented. Does it include people from Spain? All of Aatin America (even brazilians and Hatians, who don’t even speak spanish?)

    I think race and racial categories are incredibly stupid, especially the ‘one drop rule’ for blacks and the aforementioned ‘hispanic’ race.

  28. I have to admit a certain fondness for the one drop rule, because it allows me to guiltlessly declare myself a Native American, unlike those smartasses out there that are as white as snow claiming the same.

  29. Caesar:

    “Mexican” isn’t a race? Yeah, I’d agree, but some folks will discriminate on linguistic grounds, so “native Spanish speaker” still has baggage, as does having a barrio accent, even if English is one’s first tongue.

    That being said, it’s always been sorta OK for whites to have some Native American heritage as long as it isn’t a preponderance. we seem to have made out peace with “Eurasians”, too. It’s just that Negro connection, complete with the heritage of slavery, that appears to be a stumbling block. Obama’s Dad being a Kenyan, Barack has more than “one drop.” But he doesn’t have that slavery background. In that, he’s similar to Colin Powell, who has a Caribbean background. Slavery ended in the British-controlled islands a bit differently, and his cultural background was not the same as descendants of field hands from the Southron Confederacy.

    Yhis is all frightfully stupid. I like to tell surveyors that there is only one race, the human one, just because I hate to participate in this perpetuating kind of thinking. One can’t dodge the historical baggage, though.

    Re: Massachusetts. That was the state that sent Ed Brook to the Senate.

    Kevin

  30. The first US black president will be a republican, period…can we move on now and talk about which party will have the first woman president?

  31. I couldn’t care less about the first black or woman President.

    I want to know, when will we elect a President who isn’t a statist tool?

  32. It’s interesting that all the talk about Obama centers on his race, and not on the fact that he’s a neophyte Senator with a pretty much down-the-line left/liberal voting record. When was the last time a liberal Senator was elected President? (Note: it wasn’t JFK, who ran to the right of Nixon on defense issues at least.)

    Also, if the reports that Obama spent years in an Indonesian madrassa are true, that’s going to be a huge negative.

  33. The rule about what race you’re identified in this country is mostly about appearance. In America, if you look Black, you are Black. If you only had one drop, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell by looking.

    As for Obama. He won’t be President. Not just because he is Black. Not just because he has little experience. Rather, the man’s name is Barack Hussein Obama. Look at the list of all past US Presidents and find me one that has a name even remotely as “non-American” sounding as that. Somewhere deep in many voters’ subconsciouses, I think there is going to be an aversion to putting someone with a name like that in the White House.

    This is a country where many people are still afraid of Sushi. I just don’t see the voters being that adventurous. Just a gut feeling.

  34. Obama is also the only candidate anywhere near the race who would likely end the drug war.

  35. I’ve heard prejudice comments from all ethnic groups over the years, so yeah, we still have some room to grow there. Still, I think we’ll have a black president before we have equality in food selection. Passing up sushi because of ethnocentrism means just going to the next closest resturant. Passing up a candidate who supports what you want means loosing services or tax relief or civil liberties. Race may be a factor in getting on the ticket, but not after that.

  36. R.C. Dean:

    Isn’t that kind of like finding an airborn submarine? Or a non-retractable hardtop convertable? It doesn’t compute.

  37. David,

    I really appreciate the Milan Kundera reference in the title. That dude is a genious and I wasn’t sure many people had heard of him.

  38. Barack is whiter than most on this board, myself included. He is one of the rich, pampered elite. No different than Al Gore, or George Bush. John Edwards is self-made (granted by suing people, but hey this is America) and came from a lower middle class backgound; he is a LOT blacker than Barack.

    All of this really makes you appreciate Bill Clinton.

  39. I would like to point out that under affirmative action rules Barack would be favored (for government contracts, entrance into colleges and professional schools, etc) over a poor, white kid based. But hey, diversity is important and is garanteed in the constitution according to the Supreme court.

  40. A poor, white kid based WHAT? Glue?

  41. Sorry, I was going to write, “based solely on race”, but I decided that would be redundant. Poor white kids probably do make good glue though.

  42. jf,

    Ultimately, all racial categorizations are arbitrary, irrational, and socially-constructed. But just because something is socially constructed and arbitrary doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Monetary value, for example.

    Someday, we’ll all be variations of some beige tone, and there won’t be any meaningful racial categories. Today, however, there is this thing called “race,” it does correlate pretty closely to certain physical characteristics that are much more commonly found in one race than another, and being identified as a member of a race (including, especially for non-white people, self-identification) is a part of out individual identities.

    It’s not the one drop rule – if Obama was a blonde, blue-eyed guy from Long Island who had a black grandfather, he’d almost certainl self-identify as a white guy with a black ancenstor.

    andy,

    The problem isn’t goat fucking KKK members who would refuse on principle to vote for a black man. The problem is the ability of the Republican noise machine to utilize his race in a subtle way to draw a picture of him that repels mainstream, non-goat-fucking people. I’d expect to see him catergorized as “one of those corrupt, urban politicians” or “sympathetic to criminals” or “radical and disruptive.”

  43. Poor Goldwater, it’s time to give him a second chance: Exhume Goldwater ’08!

  44. Obama has a comfortable, emotional appeal to white voters, which makes him very dangerous for Republicans.

    Obama has a comfortable, emotional appeal to white voters, which makes him very dangerous for Black leaders

    Even if it could, it might not actually flip many red states to blue, as our black population is concentrated in urban areas that are already reliably Democratic.

    How would the rural/urban split make any difference when presidential ballots are counted statewide?

  45. Fuck Obama and save the drama for your mama.

  46. I still don’t get it. Barrack Obama is half black (Sub-Saharan African ancestry) and half white (European ancestry). Continuing to use race labels is, in my mind, counterproductive and stupid. Let’s talk about his policy positions and qualifications for the presidency. Is that too much to ask?

  47. Anyway, it’s not Obama’s race that the goat-fuckers are going to smear him with.

    http://thinkprogress.org/2007/01/19/fox-obama-madrassa/

  48. I won’t be voting for Obama because he seems to be a standard issue liberal Democrat with an undistinguished record. All the reasons I see that people regard him as a potential presidential material are superficial: well spoken, physically attractive, black.

    The moral differance between someone who won’t vote for Obama because he is black and someone who will vote for him because he is black, is what?

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