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Old 02-28-2007, 06:24 PM   #1
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America is not ready for a black president---thoughts?

Reading a few articles in the last several days about Barack Obama and his relationship with black America. A common thread I've seen in these articles is that polls among blacks apparently show that they don't feel America is ready for a black president. ( This, apparently, is one of the obstacles Obama currently faces with regard to winning over the black community as a voting bloc.

I'm not sure how many African-American Interference members we have, but I'll throw this question out to anyone who wants to answer it:

Do you think that African-Americans who are withholding support for Obama because they feel America is not ready for a black president believe that 1). non-black Americans wouldn't be comfortable yet with a black president, but that a black American could be aptly skilled at being president, or that 2). they don't believe that there is a black candidate who would be strong enough to be president.

Reading it, it seems like a silly question. Personally, I don't doubt that a black American would think that there are indeed other black Americans who would make fantastic presidents. But I'm having a hard time seeing why, if the choice is #1, the defeatist action prevails, keeping people from supporting a fellow black American simply because of assumptions about other people's opinions. I understand that the upcoming election is a primary, so you would want to throw your support behind a candidate that you think actually has a shot to win. But with all the steam that Barack Obama is picking up in non-black communities, why would a black American not want to support him and seize the opportunity--the best one yet--for a black American to become President of the United States if he/she personally thinks he can do a great job?


ETA: I also understand that there are questions about issues--i.e., whether Obama really "understands" the plight of the average black American--that can preclude one from supporting him. However, the feeling I get from several of these articles is that this is not the only issue involved.

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Old 02-28-2007, 07:06 PM   #2
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To be honest I've said many times that I just don't see America voting for a black man or a woman. The backwards steps we've taken socially in the last 2 terms are appalling to me.

I hope I'm wrong.

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Old 02-28-2007, 08:01 PM   #3
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Well, in the view of some self-proclaimed representatives of African-American opinion, Obama is 'not black enough'. What this phrase precisely means I am unsure, but I strongly suspect that it has to do with people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton being envious of Obama's popularity.

Overall, I think that Obama is a reasonably good outside bet for the next US President - but not the favourite.

But it's early days yet.

I wouldn't necessarily bet against Obama - and the media like him, which is important.
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Old 02-28-2007, 08:04 PM   #4
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America isn't ready for a president who isn't a straight white Christian male, unfortunately.
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Old 02-28-2007, 08:26 PM   #5
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I guess a lot of it is just pessimism about Obama's electability as a black candidate (as opposed to a "bad" candidate--too inexperienced, dull, etc.), much of it justified, some of it not. I've heard quite a few women express similar pessimism about Hillary--"Oh yeah, people say they'd vote for a woman, but once Election Day rolls around they'll get cold feet, they'll 'play it safe' and vote for a man." That kind of sentiment creates a lot of wariness and distrust about both the candidate and the people currently expressing interest in them. Plus, a lot of Democrats are already paranoid about wanting maximal 'electability' anyhow! I also think the connections the Clintons already have with the black community may be more of a factor than the article suggests; this is just anecdotal really, but my impression with my own black friends is that, as a generalization, they tend to be more loyal to familiar candidates than other voters. Apparently that hasn't kept Obama from gaining ground against Hillary, but it may be a reason why many African-Americans are still undecided. (Then again, are they statistically any more undecided than other voter groups?)

As an interesting comparison with the CNN poll mentioned in the article, there was a Gallup poll a few weeks back (so actually, a couple months after that CNN poll) which found that 94% of respondents said they would vote for an African-American candidate (for President), 88% for a woman, 87% for a Hispanic candidate (e.g. Bill Richardson), 76% for a Mormon, and 58% for a 72-year-old (e.g. McCain). In almost all cases, those represent slight declines from the figures last time they ran that poll (1999). Of course, what people say they'd do in the abstract isn't necessarily the best predictor of how they'd evaluate real individuals relative to each other as the competitive pressures mount.

That's very cool for Obama to have John Lewis supporting him though .

Finally, just as an FYI, we did have a recent (ongoing?) thread about some of those other "questions about issues" Utoo mentioned ('not black enough,' etc.).
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Old 02-28-2007, 08:31 PM   #6
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All other criticism aside about the individual candidates, I think that this country would elect a black man for president before they'd elect a woman. Yes, there are still some leaps and bounds to be made before we can honestly say we have a solid equality of opportunity for all races. However, gender roles transcend race...and I'd argue, are even harder to convince people into rethinking.
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Old 02-28-2007, 08:45 PM   #7
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Originally posted by yolland
and 58% for a 72-year-old (e.g. McCain).
I think that's a potentially worrying poll finding from the point of view of McCain, particularly in the light of Bob Dole's poor showing in 1996. Of course, Reagan was quite old when he was elected, but then again he looked a lot younger than his years, whereas I think that McCain does look his age.
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Old 02-28-2007, 09:46 PM   #8
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I will vote for who's moral and issues and resolution of them are solid, someone who will not be shaken or and embarassment to this country, and who will stand strong on their convictions.

I don't care if that person is orange and purple striped.

MCCain worries me a little if was president and right now I would not vote for him.
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Old 02-28-2007, 09:56 PM   #9
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This is hogwash plain and simple - if Obama runs more black Americans will vote for him than any other president in US history. This is sounds like the media trying to stir up trouble as usual. It never stops does it. Mark my words.
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Old 02-28-2007, 11:24 PM   #10
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A couple months ago, Hillary Clinton had a wide lead over Obama amongst African Americans, according to polls. Recently, though, Obama has pulled even.

There's a lot of time left, and we won't know who the Democratic nominee is until about 11 months from now, but my hunch is that Hillary will win the nomination, and she'll ask Obama to be her VP. Think of what a historic, electrifying ticket THAT would be!
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Old 03-01-2007, 12:47 AM   #11
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Originally posted by financeguy

I think that's a potentially worrying poll finding from the point of view of McCain, particularly in the light of Bob Dole's poor showing in 1996. Of course, Reagan was quite old when he was elected, but then again he looked a lot younger than his years, whereas I think that McCain does look his age.
I agree and I find it interesting that not much is said of the fact that Reagan was elected at 69 where McCain would be 72. Meaning, anyone old enough knows how big of an issue it became, especially after he was in office and re-elected at 73.

Personally, I don't think he'll get the nomination anyways.
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Old 03-01-2007, 08:59 AM   #12
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white folk like to say they'd vote for a black president, but when it comes down to it, many will not.

obama needs to be perfect... too many people will be looking for a reason not to vote for him because he's black. he can't give them that "out," an excuse for many voters to hide their real reason for not voting for him.
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Old 03-01-2007, 10:02 AM   #13
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Well, we've had GW for the last 7 years, so I'm barely sure Americans want a human being for a president, let alone a black person or a woman.
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Old 03-01-2007, 12:59 PM   #14
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I just don't think Americans are ready to elect a black president. I think it's a shame, because I'd love to have Obama as president. My fellow voters sure do get on my nerves.
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Old 03-01-2007, 01:20 PM   #15
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Shit, Americans aren't even ready to elect a non-Protestant white male on a regular basis. I mean, one Catholic (JFK) in over 200 years?

The general consistency/sameness in American politicians' make-up throughout history is amazing. (Same with Canada. Though we had a female prime minister, appointed not elected, for about six months.)

Geez, even some Islamic states have had female heads of state (Indonesia, Bangladesh, Turkey, Pakistan...freakin' Pakistan!). And you know how Islamic states treat women generally.

The Republic of Senegal in West Africa - over 90% Muslim - repeatedly elected Leopold Senghor, a Roman Catholic, as President.

Saddam Hussein had a Christian Deputy Prime Minister (ok, so he wasn't elected).

It seems like such a vicious cycle; maybe if there was more diversity in the American candidates over a long period of time, the people would have a chance at changing their attitudes and changing the system that is continuously designed to prop up white, middle-aged, wealthy, well-polling Protestant men to be leaders.

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