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  • Technorati: graph / links

    Obama’s victory: too much emphasis on race


    by Sunny on 6th November, 2008 at 10:07 am    

    Jessica Olien is spot on:

    People voted for Barack Obama because we believe in him and we see ourselves in him. Not in the way people saw themselves in Bush-We don’t want to drink a beer with Obama, as the old litmus test went. In Obama we see the potential of our better self. We see the power of good and the beginning of new America, one we want to stand up for because it will finally stand up for us. So don’t insult us with race. Don’t make Americans out to be racists and bigots and stereotypes of our own ethnic and social groups. I don’t want to hear the pundits spit out their sterilized garbage about what I think according to my age, race, education and income.

    On Tuesday night a whole range of African Americans cried because it was a truly big moment - but I’ve always been a bit uncomfortable with the way many people gave framed this race.

    Obama didn’t win because of his race but inspite of his skin colour. He won because he ran the most well-planned political campaign in history that did well to raise funding, build a massive ground operation (which helped raise more money and get voters) and lastly capitalise on the anger built up against Bush. The man cannot be faulted in how he ran his campaign. What does annoy me is when people say that his victory is good for race relations. It is, but the African American share of the vote only went up from 11% to 13%. Obama actually won a bigger share of the national vote than Bill Clinton did and won states like Virginia that haven’t turned Democrat in over 40 years.

    People don’t realise the enormity of this ground operation. Today, about a dozen of us from the office got together because we had nothing else to do. We had been working almost every day in the office sacrificing our time and energy for this man without any payment, and now many felt an empty void where they had been emotionally tied to a compaign for sometimes two years. We use to have little kids come into the office who knew of Obama only because their mums told them for weeks that food was going to be late because she was going to make some calls for this guy at an office.

    On Tuesday, our office in Santa Monica made over 40,000 calls to other parts of the country - the highest ever for any field office anywhere. And guess what - we had only 10 landlines and 15 mobile phones -the rest was people using their own cell phones. This was an alliance of ordinary Americans stretching across racial, class and religious boundaries to get rid of the Republicans, and it worked. It was a victory for all Americans, not just African Americans.



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    103 Comments below   |   Add your own

    1. autocarsinsurance.net » Blog Archive » Obama’s victory: too much emphasis on race — on 6th November, 2008 at 10:32 am  

      [...] And guess what - we had only 10 landlines and 15 mobile phones -the rest was people using their own cell phones . This was an alliance of ordinary Americans stretching across racial, class and religious boundaries to get rid of the .. Read more [...]

    2. El Cid — on 6th November, 2008 at 10:37 am  

      I hear what you are saying and I agree.
      Obama transcended race.
      But on this one historic occasion — given the unique and particularly brutal injustices experienced by Afro-Americans, the fact that some of these unbelievable injustices are barely a generation old — I can live with blacks whooping about the “Black House”.
      This is their time — and deservedly so.
      JJ’s tears said it all.
      The relentless media focus on the historic racial angle is tiring and stale.
      But it will simmer down. Trust me. There is a lot of work to be done.

    3. The Dude — on 6th November, 2008 at 10:50 am  

      EL Cid

      It is rare that you and me agree on anything BUT on this occasion, I bow to the better man. This is the second time I’ve witnessed this miracle. The first time was in South Africa, when all professionalism and objectivity went out of the window. The same thing happened Tuesday night. There will be lots of time for sour reflection. As for now, lets us ALL just enjoy the party.

    4. Katy Newton — on 6th November, 2008 at 10:51 am  

      I am a bit fed up with the slightly hysterical media fawning generally - it reminds me of Princess Diana’s death in reverse, if that makes any sense. Obama’s a good man and I think he’d have won whether he was black or white, but he’s not the Messiah. I hope that people don’t turn against him when this all calms down and they realise that he’s just a good man.

      Having said that, I particularly like this editorial cartoon.

    5. Sofi — on 6th November, 2008 at 10:51 am  

      i agree with el cid in that its a novelty and will wear off …but whether you choose to believe it or not..the fact that about 94% of black people voted for obama and over 50% of white folk voted for mccain is still telling.

      i’m getting annoyed with all those whove opposed the hype and deem it irrational and unnecessary; i don’t think it spells disaster and it certainly doesn’t mean people aren’t grounded. the hype is means of releasing tension that has been gradually building up for the last 8 years. its a massive reflection of how everyone was feeling and their desire for some positivity on a global scale. surely that’s a good sign. not everyone is evil and the majority of people just want peace.

    6. The Dude — on 6th November, 2008 at 11:02 am  

      ” A novelty”! Is some white dude dancing in the rain on X-Factor, great to watch but still mere entertainment. You can call Barrack Obama’s victory what you will but a “novelty”…..

    7. » Obama’s victory: too much emphasis on race — on 6th November, 2008 at 11:09 am  

      [...] night a whole range of African Americans cried because it was a truly big moment - but … View post Add your [...]

    8. Sofi — on 6th November, 2008 at 11:16 am  

      i’m sorry The Dude but i cant see why/where your confusion arises as i thought it was a simple statement myself (naturally). The last time i checked one of the meanings to novelty (dictionary.com) is: state or quality of being novel, new, or unique; newness: the novelty of a new job.

      i was referring to the novelty of having a *black* president of the US in reference to el cid’s comment (like i mentioned) about the visible reaction black supporters portrayed being temporary. keep it in context, dear.

    9. Obama’s victory: too much emphasis on race at Republicans On Best Political Blogs — on 6th November, 2008 at 11:18 am  

      [...] Obama’s victory: too much emphasis on race …was an alliance of ordinary Americans stretching across racial, class and religious boundaries to get rid of the Republicans, and it worked. [...]

    10. Obama’s victory: too much emphasis on race — on 6th November, 2008 at 11:21 am  

      [...] Obama’s victory: too much emphasis on race …vote only went up from 11% to 13%. Obama actually won a bigger share of the national vote than Bill Clinton did and won states like Virginia… [...]

    11. El Cid — on 6th November, 2008 at 11:26 am  

      Dude man, tis not so rare!
      As I have said before, this is a necessary and welcome milestone.
      There is a cliche most of us have grown up with, prolly born out of our love of US culture and collective memory of the civil rights movement: the notion, or dream, that within our lifetime we may yet see a black president of the United States.
      Well, we got there quicker than we thought.
      But there is much more to MLK’s rhetoric.
      Given that the top heavyweight boxer is currently a white man, we may yet still get there within our own lifetimes.
      I sense that we may have had similarly gritty upbringings, in which case we probably experienced something approaching the colourless ideal at some point in the past through our inner circle of friends and local communities, if not with the wider world. But watching my (white) kids, I kinda wonder whether we have gone backwards in the last couple of decades.
      It’s hard to tell as a middle aged man.
      I would offer to write more about this. PP has great potential as a place to exchange and test ideas, even challenge taboos. But I’ll bide my time.

    12. El Cid — on 6th November, 2008 at 11:29 am  

      Sofi/Dude
      Calm down every one! Sofi, I think Dude is just objecting to the choice of word. “Novelty” comes across a little disrespectful. I’m sure you didn’t mean it. Words eh?

      Nothing to see here.

    13. Sid — on 6th November, 2008 at 11:44 am  

      Good opportunity to cite a poem by the black American poet, Langston Hughes.

      I, too

      I, too, sing America.
      I am the darker brother.
      They send me to eat in the kitchen
      When company comes.
      But I laugh
      And eat well
      And grow strong.

      Tomorrow
      I’ll be at the table
      When company comes.
      Nobody’ll dare
      Say to me
      “Eat in the Kitchen,”
      Then.

      Besides,
      They’ll see how beautiful I am
      And be ashamed -

      I, too, am America.

    14. The Dude — on 6th November, 2008 at 12:25 pm  

      El Cid

      Again I concede to your wisdom. Sofi, it would be wise if you did the same.

    15. The Dude — on 6th November, 2008 at 12:33 pm  

      Dearest Katy

      I’ve just re-read your post and my first reaction was to agree with you. But then I remembered what some commentators said about the reaction of black people after the election of Nelson Mandela. You already know that what happened next is history and that despite all the expectations to the contrary, Mr Mandela still did well.

    16. Obama’s victory: too much emphasis on race — on 6th November, 2008 at 12:40 pm  

      [...] post by WP-AutoBlog Import var AdBrite_Title_Color = ‘0000FF’; var AdBrite_Text_Color = ‘000000′; var [...]

    17. MaidMarian — on 6th November, 2008 at 1:00 pm  

      El Cid (2) - ‘Obama transcended race.’ Yes, but….

      I would suggest that what did an even better job of transcending race were a plethora of other factors - economic crisis, a historically unpopular sitting president, an awful Republican campaign, unpopular wars… The list goes on.

      With all respect to Sunny and the efforts of other volunteers circumstance without doubt favoured Obama. In fact I suppose you could even make a pretty good argument that it is surprising that the win was not even bigger. Of course Obama ran a good campaign, but he was riding a pretty powerful tide, large parts of which were derived from circumstance.

      How far was the vote for Obama the man or for Obama the movement? I don’t know, but the movement is one that I suspect any number of other politicians could have figureheaded.

      Maybe I am being uncharitable, I just can’t buy into the internet euphoria that seems to be equating yesterday with the second coming.

      I hope it all works out for Obama, goodness I do. But those who live by popular momentum can die by it.

    18. Ravi Naik — on 6th November, 2008 at 1:05 pm  

      I am a bit fed up with the slightly hysterical media fawning generally - it reminds me of Princess Diana’s death in reverse, if that makes any sense. Obama’s a good man and I think he’d have won whether he was black or white, but he’s not the Messiah. I hope that people don’t turn against him when this all calms down and they realise that he’s just a good man

      I think you are underestimating him - he is not just a good man, and defending he is far more than just a good man, is not a sign that we believe he is the One, that he is the Messiah, or that we keep on drinking kool-aid. That’s a crude caricature.

      There is a lot to be excited about - a resounding defeat of Karl Rove politics and anti-intelectualism in the White House, and reasonable people will know that Obama will disappoint because (a) he is a politician, (b) he will need to compromise on legislation in order to get it passed, and (c) he might get things wrong in this unpredictable world.

      I am confident that he will be a very impressive President because he was an outstanding candidate over these two years.

    19. Sid — on 6th November, 2008 at 1:09 pm  

      Maybe I am being uncharitable, I just can’t buy into the internet euphoria that seems to be equating yesterday with the second coming.

      Afraid to say you’re being churlish. You’re downplaying Obama’s brilliant campaign and the credit that’s due to him, and you’re downplaying the culpability of Bush/McCain and the GoP as the stakeholders of the litany of failures you’ve listed in your first para.

      George Bush has for the past 10 months suffering the lowest approval ratings of any president since approval polls began. You could say that Obama benefitted from that, but you can’t say that it lessens his abilities or the significance of his victory.

    20. Katy Newton — on 6th November, 2008 at 1:21 pm  

      Ravi, I didn’t say there wasn’t a lot to be excited about. And I would love to know how calling someone a good man is “underestimating” them.

      That’s exactly what I’m talking about, actually. You can’t say “Obama is a good man”. It’s not enough. Everyone wants you to over-enthuse. Well, I’m not going to. I never thought that a black American president would be elected in my lifetime and I am delighted to be proved wrong, but Obama himself - he’s a good man who ran on a solid Democratic platform and an honourable campaign. What more do you want me to say?

    21. Ravi Naik — on 6th November, 2008 at 1:54 pm  

      And I would love to know how calling someone a good man is “underestimating” them. That’s exactly what I’m talking about, actually. You can’t say “Obama is a good man”. It’s not enough.

      You can say whatever you want - I believe your opinion is as valid as mine. You believe that Obama is *just* a good man and that when people realise that, they might turn against him.

      I, on the other hand, believe that he will be as impressive of a candidate as a President, and he will not come short of the expectations that he set up during his candidacy. But what I really object is that this excitement over Obama is because people are drinking koolaid, because they believe that he is the Messiah, or even that he is the One. That’s insinuating that people who belive that he is more than just a good man, are somewhat irrational, naive and uncapable of being objective.

    22. Katy Newton — on 6th November, 2008 at 2:03 pm  

      I think it’s fairly clear that I meant “just a good man as opposed to a miracle worker” rather than “just a good man”, but hopefully other people are better at reading for context than you are. Don’t you think you’re indulging in nit-picking a bit?

      The burden of expectation upon him is huge. I expect that most people who read this site are aware that taking office with a budget deficit of one trillion dollars isn’t something that anyone could possibly resolve over night or even within 4 years, but you’re very naive if you don’t think that there are a lot of people out there whose expectations are considerably less realistic. All I meant was - and again I think most people would have realised this from what I said originally - that I hoped people wouldn’t hold it against him when their own unrealistic expectations aren’t met. But next time I will make sure I say “some people” so that you don’t take it personally. OK?

    23. Refresh — on 6th November, 2008 at 2:06 pm  

      A great result, and it was good to see Jesse Jackson finally realised what he and others, black and white, had achieved.

      In the case of the black population, they could never walk away from their lot. Theirs’ is a lifetime and generations of struggle. Its crucial to note that everyone else can join or leave the struggle at will.

      The most important point of it all is that it has decidedly challenged the old colonial myths of racial supremacy.

      Initially I too thought everyone was making too much of the racial angle, but once I digested the enormity of the achievement it became obvious.

      No longer do we think non-white races are not intelligent; and that they are bound to be stuck in poverty because of their backwardness. No longer can people hold on to the canard that the pre-empire non-european societies around the globe had nothing going for them. And that Africa did not have advanced societies.

      Noble savages no more!

      ‘Advanced’ militarised societies remain prone to creating new myths to replace the old, and these need to be challenged at the outset.

      History books need to be rewritten, and the likes of Niall Ferguson needs to be consigned to the bin.

      Rejoice!

    24. Kismet Hardy — on 6th November, 2008 at 2:11 pm  

      I’ve been going on yahoo answers because I’m bored and asked the question to Americans ‘Yes, but would you have him over for dinner?’ and to be honest, they’re fucking idiots

      God bless britain

    25. Katy Newton — on 6th November, 2008 at 2:23 pm  

      I’m getting very snippy. Sorry, Ravi. I did feel you were nitpicking a bit, though. “He’s not just good, he’s GREAT! LIKE HIM MORE PLEASE.”

    26. platinum786 — on 6th November, 2008 at 2:34 pm  

      Seeing the tears in the eyes of Jesse Jackson moved me, and I was backing McCain…lol

      I hope for all our sakes, he’s everything we wish him to be.

    27. El Cid — on 6th November, 2008 at 2:42 pm  

      all that matters is that he is not a disaster but merely competent (and I would suggest, more controversially, no pussy).
      my expectations are very well managed :)

    28. Jai — on 6th November, 2008 at 2:48 pm  

      The most important point of it all is that it has decidedly challenged the old colonial myths of racial supremacy.

      Initially I too thought everyone was making too much of the racial angle, but once I digested the enormity of the achievement it became obvious.

      Exactly. Obama’s victory, along with his intellectual brilliance and other positive personal qualities, blows apart the delusions held by the bigots regarding their allegedly inherent racial supremacy and superiority in all aspects compared to the rest of us, on both an individual and a group level. Not just now, but going generations and centuries back, in both Europe and the American continent. Hell, it also decisively destroys the race-based Victorian-era mandate & justification for colonialism, the legacies of which many of us still often have to deal with when faced with Richard Redneck from Romford.

      One word of caution, however: Let’s all be careful that we don’t fall victim to “divide & rule” tactics by devious racists, ie. “Yeah, so this means that black people aren’t inferior to us, but it doesn’t mean the rest of you aren’t”. Because I bet that some really twisted types will still try to pull that kind of stunt.

      In the meantime, I think that we can use this victory to grin and stick a metaphorical middle finger towards the KKK, the BNP, Neo-Nazis, and ordinary racists everywhere who had previously been smug in their notions of intrinsic superiority and “authority” over the rest of us.

    29. El Cid — on 6th November, 2008 at 2:51 pm  

      Jai, Jai, Jai *shakes head*

    30. sonia — on 6th November, 2008 at 2:52 pm  

      i think race obviously is a factor, but one of many. Charisma I would say, and stature, and grabbing people’s inspiration - is the main thing. The man was & is very charismatic, a brilliant orator, and so give Obama credit,he comes across as very personable and strong and all that HOllywood would expect or want (and hence, so with the American people) in a President. that kind of charisma you find in some individuals regardless of their background, its their personality.

      so any black person who stood wouldn’t necessarily have got the reaction Obama did. the fact that he is of a certain background obviously has an impact on how certain people will empathize with him, but let’s not deny the fact that he has a powerful personality. and he really appealed to young people, as he is much younger than the traditional age of presidents.

    31. Ravi Naik — on 6th November, 2008 at 3:00 pm  

      I’m getting very snippy. Sorry, Ravi. I did feel you were nitpicking a bit, though. “He’s not just good, he’s GREAT! LIKE HIM MORE PLEASE.”

      That was not my intention, Katy. Your reference of the “Messiah” just rubbed me the wrong way and I apologise if I came too strong, because I felt that you were saying that this anxiety, excitement and emotions over the last few days were the result of some cult-like fixation.

      I understand the point you are making, that after the honeymoon is over, that Obama might disappoint a lot of people given the problems that he will need to solve, and how constrained he will be to solve them, and I think it is a pretty valid argument.

    32. Katy Newton — on 6th November, 2008 at 3:19 pm  

      It wouldn’t be his fault if he didn’t. He’s been left with this awful situation abroad (although he may not be that bothered given that he’s committed to continuing operations in Afghanistan), and this jaw-dropping budget deficit - I don’t know how anyone would begin to sort it all out. I absolutely trust him to do what he genuinely believes is right, although that doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll agree with what he does do. But - yikes. I don’t envy him.

    33. Leon — on 6th November, 2008 at 3:22 pm  

      I’m beginning to wonder that unless you’re black or have a strong connection (through solidarity, shared experience etc) with black communities the significance of this won’t be the same for you.

      I won’t go into it publicly but I’ve spoken to family over the last twenty four hours who’ve been in tears on the phone. Tears of joy that they’ve lived long enough to see this, tears of relief that the years of being told they’re not good enough and the pain of racism (both historic via slavery and present through abuse) has taken a new positive turn, tears of amusement that the worlds most powerful nation is now run by a black man; the emotional impact is profound. None of them see that that is the only factor but it is a factor and a legitimate one at that.

      It was a victory for all Americans, not just African Americans.

      Sure but had your fore mothers and fathers been slaves perhaps you’re internal reality would be stirred a little differently because of this.

      I really don’t see why any of this should be mutually exclusive, why can’t black people feel this in a empowering sense within the overall context of how well the campaign was run. It’s not either/or and I’m tired of people trying to down play one aspect of this victory in preference for another to be frank.

    34. zaffer — on 6th November, 2008 at 3:27 pm  

      “but the African American share of the vote only went up from 11% to 13%”- not sure what you mean this Sunny? And you are contradicting yourself by saying you’re annoyed that this is a victory for the race relations industry and then agreeing with the statement.

      Everyone wants a utopia world where race is not an issue- but there is a process on how to get there, and we are not there yet. And we won’t get there by choosing to ignore ones achievements despite the adversities that still exist.
      I think you should acknowledge this for what it is- a huge achievement for all minorities.

    35. Ravi Naik — on 6th November, 2008 at 3:33 pm  

      I would suggest that what did an even better job of transcending race were a plethora of other factors - economic crisis, a historically unpopular sitting president, an awful Republican campaign, unpopular wars… The list goes on.

      I agree that a lot of factors contributed to Obama’s landslide in the electoral college. I also wonder if Obama would have succeed 8 years ago. Howewer, despite the circumnstances that didn’t favour Republicans, I believe when it comes to selecting a President, all it counts is the narrative and perceptions voters have of both candidates. If the electorate believed that McCain was not like other Republicans (a maverick!) then he would be in a stronger position.

      Circumsntances mean nothing if you are not able to exploit or defuse it. John Kerry is a decorated Vietnam hero, but the Republicans amazingly managed to make that work against him with the infamous swiftboat attacks. Similarly, videos of Obama’s preacher “God Damn America! came along, he took the opportunity to talk about race. My point is that I do not believe that another Democrat candidate would come close what Obama achieved, because Obama not only managed to defuse or exploit circumnstances, but also his campaign’s remarkable discipline and long term strategy. I concur with Sunny that the ground game made a good deal of difference. But again, it was a number of factors that were placed in the strategy.

      You wonder why Obama didn’t get more votes? One third of the country still believes Bush is either a good or excellent President, and a good number of independents, democrats believe McCain would be different from Bush given his past disagreements with the Republican party. Also Obama got a massive smear campaign against him attacking him accusing him of being an extremist, etc.

    36. AsifB — on 6th November, 2008 at 4:02 pm  

      Sonia (30) - As ever, is the voice of reason. Obama was a great candidate and has as Sunny and Jessica assert, transcended race.

      But as he himself wrote in Dreams from my Father,Obama is highly conscious of racial identities and stereotypes. So his identity and background - which is what gave him his ability to appeal to all types of people - does in fact matter. Writing about bonding with his Kenyan half sister on his search for his father’s extended family, he recalls his sister not liking an (east African Asian) travel agent - and writes about similar prejudices towards Chinese shopkeepers in Indonesia and Koreans and Arabs in African American neighbourhoods. His ability to appreciate difference and search for identity whilst standing up to prejuidice and never losing his cool intelligence, is one of his most appealling facets.

      That he writes about ‘Martin and Malcolm’ and his ‘globalised’ upbringing throughout the book also shows a welcome mixture of idealism and pragmatism that bodes well for the prospect of him governing better than Bush - this does not mean that anyone expecting the Repugnant and Demagogue political machines to change the world will not be disappointed.

      But it does permit a chance for hope for which we can all be grateful.

      Three more points, which I’m afraid do come back to identity (but then isn’t that the point of calling this blog Pickled politics Sunny)

      a) Race does matter - That’s the reason I started crying at 3am - it was thinking about what Malcolm and Martin were fighting against - and was angry that someone on the BBC (unlike Alistair Stewart on the ITV) said Jesse Jackson was thinking about his own Presidential runs twenty years ago - possible given his differences from Obama - but crass and stupid given that everyone must have seen the picture of Andrew Young and Jackson pointing towards the source of gunfire on that Memphis balcony - ONLY 40 YEARS AGO.

      b) Sadly, it’s striking that the last three states to elect Democratic Presidents (texas, Georgia and Arkansas) all remain Republican.

      c) Is it just me (and yes Mc Cain did make an honourbale concession speech) but for anyone who has ever read Pilger or Chomsky (or even just watched Tom Cruise) isn’t calling an American POW a war hero a bit like calling Rudolf Hess a war hero? (He was on the wrong side and spent some time in prison.)

      Finally and to come back to giving hope a chance - one for Kismet’s belief in Britain from today’s Guardian diary: ” But then some people struggle to keep up with the news. Jamie Oliver is one of them. “I’m probably going to sound a bit thick here, but who won?” he asked journalists at Westminster yesterday. “Obama,” one replied. “Thank fuck for that,” he said”

    37. Katy Newton — on 6th November, 2008 at 4:04 pm  

      I really don’t see why any of this should be mutually exclusive, why can’t black people feel this in a empowering sense within the overall context of how well the campaign was run. It’s not either/or

      I think it would be unnatural if black people didn’t feel majorly empowered by the existence of a black President Elect. That’s the bit that has me unreservedly euphoric. I honestly thought, right up until the last minute, that some sort of residual racism would kick in and he wouldn’t be elected, and I have never been so pleased to be wrong about something.

    38. Refresh — on 6th November, 2008 at 4:18 pm  

      ‘One word of caution, however: Let’s all be careful that we don’t fall victim to “divide & rule” tactics by devious racists’

      The signs are obvious, the strategy will be biassed around cultural differences. Or it already is as Pym Fortuyn identified several years ago.

    39. bananabrain — on 6th November, 2008 at 4:20 pm  

      personally, i wonder whether the left wing’s love affair with obama will be soured by his appointment of an israeli chief of staff, the fact that “the west wing’s” josh lyman is based on him notwithstanding….

      http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1034855.html

      my prediction: when obama screws up on the foreign policy front or on anything to do with the middle east or muslims it’ll be the first thing they point to in order to assign blame. you heard it here first.

      although now i have something to rubbish people with who claim that obama has some sort of secret anti-israel agenda.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    40. zaffer — on 6th November, 2008 at 4:22 pm  

      Right, decided to some number crunching. Sunny, if you say voter turnout for the African- American community increased by 2%, based on the figure of 148,218,161*( total electorate turnout 2008)- a further 2,964,363 African American’s voted in this election than 2004.

      That’s nearly an extra 3million African Americans voted this year. Sounds quite high to me…

    41. Ravi Naik — on 6th November, 2008 at 4:23 pm  

      The signs are obvious, the strategy will be biassed around cultural differences. Or it already is as Pym Fortuyn identified several years ago.

      What do you mean?

    42. Refresh — on 6th November, 2008 at 4:25 pm  

      Bananabrain

      It will all depend on whether Israel derails Obama. I think a ‘grand bargain’ is in the offing, and there aren’t that many countries who could kill that one.

      What he will need and be looking for is a new leadership in Israel. Everyone knows it.

      Bear in mind Blair had Lord Levy, and it did no one any good.

    43. Leon — on 6th November, 2008 at 4:37 pm  

      Banabrain,

      I think his choice (although at the time of writing not accepted) is a shrewd and good one. I also think only a lunatic could conclude that any FO ‘mistake’ (criteria for mistake being open depending on ones political views) could flow from him.

      But anyway, still early days yet. Team Obama hasn’t even been fully appointed and we’re already talking about who’s fault it may be for hypothetical mistakes made at some speculative future point!

    44. Refresh — on 6th November, 2008 at 4:37 pm  

      Ravi,
      I really don’t want the risk of derailment, but look it up in wikipedia and other sources.

    45. Leon — on 6th November, 2008 at 4:45 pm  

      Yes let’s not slide into an i/p thread…

      Anyway, check out Dizzy!!

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/us_elections_2008/7713237.stm

    46. Sofia — on 6th November, 2008 at 4:49 pm  

      And as for lascars, I don’t thinkt hey were like servants. I’ll find the paper and write down exactly how it was written.

    47. zaffer — on 6th November, 2008 at 4:52 pm  

      Justed watched the Dizzy clip- fantastic!

    48. Sofia — on 6th November, 2008 at 4:56 pm  

      sorry wrong thread

    49. Jai — on 6th November, 2008 at 5:14 pm  

      Leon,

      I’m beginning to wonder that unless you’re black or have a strong connection (through solidarity, shared experience etc) with black communities the significance of this won’t be the same for you.

      I agree that this event will resonate most strongly with black people everywhere (and, along with the West, there have also been celebrations across Africa, not limited to Kenya), for the reasons you’ve detailed. Speaking as a British Asian, though, this will also have great emotional impact for many of “us”, because:

      a) although we’re not descended from slaves — admittedly those Indians who ended up being “indentured” in some of the former colonies outside the subcontinent weren’t far off — our ancestors were still on the receiving end of European colonial subjugation for several centuries, based from the early 19th century onwards to a significant degree on assumptions of intrinsic racial inferiority, with everything that entailed. So we can identify with that aspect of what black people had to go through. And, like black people, we still have to deal with the modern-day legacies of those attitudes and ignorant, arrogant assumptions, as I mentioned earlier.

      b) For various reasons (eg. lack of other non-white role models, lack of an established “British Asian” culture at the time, etc), very large numbers of 2nd-generation UK-born Asians identified with black people in their younger days — to some degree this is still the case, as we all know — so there is an awareness of the history of African-Americans and a general empathy with them; a lot more than there is amongst the “older” Asian generation, in my experience. I don’t know if this level of semi-identification is also widely prevalent amongst 2nd-gen South Asians in the US, but perhaps an American desi commenter here would be more qualified to talk about that.

      Sure but had your fore mothers and fathers been slaves perhaps you’re internal reality would be stirred a little differently because of this.

      I think that, from an Asian perspective at least, there will be an overlap with how our “internal reality would be stirred”, but I fully agree that the experience will be the most powerful for black people in general and for African-Americans most of all.

      However, given the course of history and some of the common struggles and prejudices we’ve all had to face when it comes to racism, hopefully you’ll understand why Obama’s victory would also have strong emotional resonance for many other non-white people in the West.

      tears of amusement that the worlds most powerful nation is now run by a black man

      Indeed. Not very pleasant for the rednecks in this part of the world, I expect. Good. :)

      Ah, the times, they are a-changin’…..

    50. bananabrain — on 6th November, 2008 at 5:22 pm  

      What he will need and be looking for is a new leadership in Israel. Everyone knows it.

      i think you have a point. let’s hope he gets it from livni, not that fecking feathered eejit netanyahu.

      Bear in mind Blair had Lord Levy, and it did no one any good.

      lord l was undeniably a great fundraiser and networker, but his competence and suitability for matters of foreign policy and diplomacy is, i would agree, somewhat questionable, although one might argue that the skullduggery of the music business is the perfect training for dealing with, say, oligarchs and dictators….

      I also think only a lunatic could conclude that any FO ‘mistake’ (criteria for mistake being open depending on ones political views) could flow from him.

      leon, i wish you were right, but my experience says otherwise. unfortunately one doesn’t have to be a “lunatic” to find anything to do with jews or israel suspicious. it’s not only the loonies who have seen fit to comment.

      http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&safe=active&q=obama+chief+of+staff+jewish&start=20&sa=N

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    51. Refresh — on 6th November, 2008 at 5:27 pm  

      Bananabrain, you must be suffering from Obamamania. You agreed with me again.

    52. Nyrone — on 6th November, 2008 at 5:34 pm  

      I’ve only read the headline, but I completely agree.
      It’s being framed as some kind of positive discrimination victory.
      Obama won because of the person he is and what he offers.
      I hate the way it’s all being ‘raced-up’even Bush with his “only in America” garbage.

    53. shariq — on 6th November, 2008 at 5:45 pm  

      One thing lacking from this article. Obama also won because George Bush and the Republicans royally screwed up the country over the last eight years.

      The ground campaign only had so many volunteers because there was that much disgust with Bush/hope from Obama.

      Look, before election night I was looking at it from the perspective that Obama winning by a large margin offers hope for a mandate of progressive government.

      However once the election has been won, its worth reflecting on the fact that America elected a Black man as President. I think it was the footage of Jesse Jackson which really brought it home for me.

    54. The Dude — on 6th November, 2008 at 6:31 pm  

      Nothing that has been said or will be said on this forum, will detract from the fact THAT I’ve got a great big massive smile on my face. Trust me when I say, I’m not alone.

      To tell you the truth I didn’t think that Obama was going to win on the notion that it was all too good to be true. The Bradley effect didn’t kick in the way I thought it would. A small hardcore rump of the GOP and the neo-cons have four short years to lick their wounds. Life is good.

      OTH… That murdering racist, Osama Bin Laden had better keep his mouth shut, before a brother from the White House fills it with concrete.

    55. MaidMarian — on 6th November, 2008 at 6:40 pm  

      Ravi Naik (35) - Thank you for taking the time to reply. I think we agree on most things here.

      I certainly see where you are coming from about the narrative of a candidate - Clinton benefited greatly in this regard against Dole - though in the past this thinking probably has worked for the Republicans more.

      My point though remains that I whilst I agree with Sunny that there is too much emphasis on race, not enough emphasis is put on factors beyond, ‘Obama is great - OK.’

      You make a very interesting point though about would Obama have won 8 years ago. Or even 4. Perhaps another thought on this. Had President Obama been in the Oval Office on 12th September 2001, would he have done anything different to President Bush? Probably not in my view. I expect Obama would not have indulged in a wild goose chase in Iraq like Bush (or at least the people around Bush) did, but the fact is that presidents are hostages to fortune in ways that candidates are not.

      Maybe I am wrong, I hope I am, but I sense that this landslide is not built on quite as solid foundations as some seem to believe it is.

    56. Refresh — on 6th November, 2008 at 7:04 pm  

      Dude, I’ve had a smile on my face longer than you it seems. But you have been the first person to give me cause for concern.

      Tell me its misplaced. Please.

      Let’s suppose there is another major incident on Obama’s watch. Would you personally feel ’slighted’?

    57. Refresh — on 6th November, 2008 at 7:12 pm  

      MaidMarian,

      ‘I expect Obama would not have indulged in a wild goose chase in Iraq like Bush (or at least the people around Bush) did, but the fact is that presidents are hostages to fortune in ways that candidates are not.’

      You mustn’t presume it was a wild goose chase. It was a part of the bigger plan. Which Obama would not have been privy to. The chance of Obama doing the same is zero.

      Looking wider afield, everyone in their own way have acted to contain the US and it seems for its own good.

      US’ purported enemies have done more good for that nation than its allies (with the exception of France, Germany and belatedly Spain). If Iraq had gone swimmingly, which other countries would the US be occupying today?

    58. El Cid — on 6th November, 2008 at 7:36 pm  

      You don’t ‘get’ it Jai, do you?

    59. Zak — on 6th November, 2008 at 11:03 pm  

      I agree Obama built on something we first saw in Howard Dean. The online organization and aggressive door to door campaigning.

      Despite that I’d offer a word of caution, according to one news channels analyst, if you broke it down in ourely white votes Obama would have lost.

      Secondly, despite the incredible work done by yourself, the margin of the win was surprisingly small when you consider some polls and the national airtime buys.

    60. sonia — on 6th November, 2008 at 11:22 pm  

      the fact of the matter is that the internet was so instrumental to campaigning. and the small donations aggregating up.

    61. Ravi Naik — on 6th November, 2008 at 11:23 pm  

      Despite that I’d offer a word of caution, according to one news channels analyst, if you broke it down in ourely white votes Obama would have lost.

      What caution? The majority of whites in America have always voted Republican in higher numbers, and this year it was no different. But Obama had a larger share of white support than Kerry and Al Gore. So, the implication that Obama has a “white problem” is utter nonsense.

      Secondly, despite the incredible work done by yourself, the margin of the win was surprisingly small when you consider some polls and the national airtime buys.

      It was a freaking landslide, 6% difference in popular vote, and today North Carolina went officially to Obama… totalling 364 electoral votes against 162 from McCain.

    62. Desi Italiana — on 6th November, 2008 at 11:59 pm  

      “Obama’s victory: too much emphasis on race”

      “People don’t realise the enormity of this ground operation.”

      Is this really true? I don’t have the links on me right now, but I do remember coming across articles that spoke about power of his grassroots campaigning rather than just his race.

      “Don’t make Americans out to be racists and bigots and stereotypes of our own ethnic and social groups. ”

      Er… but there ARE some Americans who are racists and bigots, we saw a healthy showing of them during the McCain campaign.

      Now what I see is the mistaken idea that race DOESN’T matter in the US because an African American man got elected “in spite of his race” and ALL voters somehow transcend their age, social group, and registered party affiliation and their views on race (voters can and do transcend those variables- especially in this election- but it is also true that these variables have some sort of influence, debatable to which extent). I said over on the other thread that I hope that this election encourages Americans to think differently about race, and it is wonderfully exciting for me that he got voted in for his ideas and positions (some of which I disagree with), but let’s not forget that there are some racist mofo’s out here in the US. We’ve made an inspiring symbolic change that is extremely significant symbolically, but I don’t think that all of America is progressive (BTW, despite Obama’s lofty rhetoric on “change” and “hope”, his ideas are not THAT radical for change, which probably also helps that he got elected. Great political strategy: talk vaguely of hope and change without actually providing concrete examples of radical change- ie knocking down the blood-sucking health care industry leeches that has given us more expensive but mediocre health care, etc).

      “Secondly, despite the incredible work done by yourself, the margin of the win was surprisingly small when you consider some polls and the national airtime buys.”

      According to the definition of “landslide,” (which includes the seats in the senate) this election was.

    63. Desi Italiana — on 7th November, 2008 at 12:18 am  

      “People voted for Barack Obama because we believe in him and we see ourselves in him. Not in the way people saw themselves in Bush–We don’t want to drink a beer with Obama, as the old litmus test went. In Obama we see the potential of our better self. We see the power of good and the beginning of new America, one we want to stand up for because it will finally stand up for us. So don’t insult us with race. Don’t make Americans out to be racists and bigots and stereotypes of our own ethnic and social groups. I don’t want to hear the pundits spit out their sterilized garbage about what I think according to my age, race, education and income.”

      Though I agree with some bits here, dude, Jessica, wake up. I think she may have had the luxury of never bearing the brunt of racism, even in this day and age, and to feel the astonishment that her fellow citizens elected Obama in spite of his race? I think it’s insensitive in an uppity way to not recognize that for many Americans, this day seemed almost unreal given their everyday realities and to feel that at last, some barrier has fallen. I agree with the criticism of how the NYT is pigeon-holding voters and stereotyping voter behavior based on the variables that have disgusted her, but come on, wake up. Not the entire country lives in NYC where race is relatively less of an issue.

      And yes, we know that white Americans voted for him and it is a big victory for them as much as it is for all of us Americans of various backgrounds, we all cried, etc, and I don’t think anyone failed to see that, given the sprawling coverage of crowds across the US where we saw White, Black, Latinos, Asian and etc Americans weep copiously. But a lot of us- including white Americans- did not fail to see that some sort of barrier DID fall in this election (like the white and black Americans who lived through the Civil Rights Movement and lived to see this day), and that we are all the better off for it.

    64. Desi Italiana — on 7th November, 2008 at 12:28 am  

      Now I’m a bit angry at Jessica Olien’s post. It’s incredibly uppity.

      I invite her to come accompany me on my daily walks through this heavily Republican, white, Pro Prop 8 neighborhood that I am currently living in so that I could point out the three Confederate flags that hang in front of three people’s houses here (our immediate neighbors are pretty nice though, always waving hello, stopping to chit chat, and inviting us to a Halloween block party). And yes, this is California we’re talking about. Then she will see why this election was astonishing for Uncle, I, and countless other people (including whites) who have witnessed first hand just how backwards some people in the US can be.

    65. Desi Italiana — on 7th November, 2008 at 1:46 am  

      It’s rare that I defend the NYT, but if the NYT had not acknowledged race in their headlines, people would have ripped at them for that, too.

      BTW, doesn’t the headline say he was voted for all the things that she says she voted for, and thus a race barrier fell?

    66. Desi Italiana — on 7th November, 2008 at 1:52 am  

      Sunny:

      I think you are hearing/reading what you want to, without fairly taking into account the things you didn’t notice.

      “The man cannot be faulted in how he ran his campaign. What does annoy me is when people say that his victory is good for race relations.”

      The first and most primary focus of ABC’s TV coverage of election night was on how “flawless” his campaign was (to quote Stephanopalous), how much grassroots campaigning, and Obama’s astonishing stronghold in Iowa won him his victory. Yes, race was acknowledged in the coverage, blacks were interviewed (as per my comments in the other post), but in terms of Obama’s campaign and politics, Diane Sawyer, Stephan-whatever and that other guy did a pretty good job of explaining what brought voters to choose Obama, and that it was largely his policies and the country’s desire to get out of this 8-year long nightmare.

      “On Tuesday night a whole range of African Americans cried because it was a truly big moment - but I’ve always been a bit uncomfortable with the way many people gave framed this race.”

      I feel like you are stereotyping here as well by referring to AA only in this phrase. What makes you think that White Americans, Latino Americans, Asian Americans and others weren’t crying about the fact that we have now an AA president given the record of race relations in the US?

      And really, I don’t see what’s so wrong to acknowledge race and interview African Americans on their thoughts about Obama’s victory? So what if there is a sense of overcoming and triumph? Is it wrong and biased to focus on Americans who feel like race- that ugly ideology that still operates in some places in the US-was overlooked by the majority of Americans? It is something to celebrate, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    67. Ravi Naik — on 7th November, 2008 at 2:21 am  

      There is nothing wrong with Sunny’s post, except that it feels a bit petty to rant about acknowledging - or even emphasising - this victory as a landmark in race relations.

      The point is that 40 years ago, it wouldn’t matter how good your ground game was, how many calls you made, or how capable you were - if you were black, you would risk being lynched for the mere fact of wanting to vote in the South. So yes, as impressive the ground game was, there is something larger here.

    68. digitalcntrl — on 7th November, 2008 at 3:35 am  

      The Future Leader of the Republican Party an Indian?

      FOX News’s interview with Bobby Jindal

      the black man vs. brown man???

      I have to admit though Jindal gives me the creeps, the man supports teaching creationism in the public school system.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnPQ_qRa6sg

    69. aji — on 7th November, 2008 at 6:24 am  

      Sunny:

      Obama didn’t win because of his race but inspite of his skin colour.

      I couldn’t agree more. I’m sure race would have been a major issue some years back but this time it wasn’t. At least for that I have to congratulate the American democratic system. The American people comprehensively voted for a candidate, not based on his race, but on his policies and personal abilities.

      Fortunately American politics hasn’t to a large degree become the victim of identity politics you see in other parts of the world and long may that continue. At least it is still a constitutional democracy where politicians actually respect the democratic process and differences are settled within parliament. Whatever America has done over the last eight years, at least now there is the chance for course correction and it has been achieved entirely peacefully without a revolution.

      It amuses me how Desi Italiana keeps trying to divert the main topic of discussion here to a rant on racism in American society. Name me a single country in the world where racism doesn’t exist to some extent? As if Indians are not racist themselves?

    70. Zak — on 7th November, 2008 at 8:08 am  

      Ravi, a landslide would be Reagan in 80-84, as I said considering he was polling at one stage 10% ahead of McCain his victory is less than expected..also factor in Bushs popularity at barely 24%

    71. Desi Italiana — on 7th November, 2008 at 8:32 am  

      Aji:

      “It amuses me how Desi Italiana keeps trying to divert the main topic of discussion here to a rant on racism in American society.”

      Evidently, you didn’t read my comments, so whatever.

      “Name me a single country in the world where racism doesn’t exist to some extent?”

      Oh, I get it. Because racism exists in other places around the world, we should accept it as just life and not bitch about it in the US.

      “As if Indians are not racist themselves?”

      What the heck this has to do with the discussion on an American election is beyond me, but hey.

    72. Desi Italiana — on 7th November, 2008 at 8:39 am  

      Sonia #60:

      “the fact of the matter is that the internet was so instrumental to campaigning. and the small donations aggregating up.”

      Internet + politics + Obama’s campaign

      http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2007/07/fight_different.html

      A bit outdated by now, but this package looks at how candidates were using the internet, web, social networking, blah blah during the campaigns.

    73. billericaydicky — on 7th November, 2008 at 9:50 am  

      I think it has all been said but there are a few interesting things happening this side of the pond in terms of the race industry. There is an article on CiF by the editor of New Nation the black newspaper Lester Holloway which has a record of every comment slagging him off, go and look, it is very relevant to what is being discussed here.

      Holloway is calling for all black short lists an idea which has been dumped by the government not only because it is illegal but is a gift to the BNP. I sense deperation in the air as we see a mixed race person elected as President who stresses his white relations and upbringing and who never once played the race card.

      Simon Jenkins in today’s Guardian has a good analysis of the voting figures but whichever way you crunch the numbers significant numbers of whites particularly young ones voted for Obama and the Latino vote was very important too. In less than twenty years Spanish will be the most widely spoken language in the country.

      What was interesting is how Obama distanced himself from the Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons who are now looking past their sell by date. What is also important is how Martin Luther King is still relevant in terms of his cross racial appeal.

      I am convinced we are moving into a post racial situation in America and the implications for that here are important. One of the things that America doesn’t have is an organised far right in the way that we do in Europe, that racial element was always within the two main parties.

      Our racial warriors in New Nation and Operation Black Vote are stuck in the past with Jackson and Sharpton. The world has moved on around them and they have finally noticed hence the note of deperation creeping into the statements.

      The powers that be here have decided that the BNP is more of a threat than Simon Wooley with his demands that if black people don’t get what they want there will be “rioting in the streets”, I have the cutting from the black press on file.

      Expect to see the financial plugs being pulled over the coming year or so as what happened to Black Information Link and the National Assembly Against Racism spreads to other state funded groups.

      Incidently Lester Holloway is a big supporter of Louis Farrakhan, the professional white hater and anti semite, and has written an article that alleges that aids in Africa was the result of white doctors injecting black children with the virus. All good liberal stuff.

    74. aji — on 7th November, 2008 at 10:15 am  

      Desi Italiana,

      All you seem to be saying here is, “there’s still a lot racism in America and the election doesn’t mean anything.” I did not say racism was acceptable, but can’t you see this a rejection of race politics? All I’m saying is that, give the American system credit when it deserves it.

      When Obama came to the national stage in 2004 he said:

      “There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there is the United States of America. There’s not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America; there is the United States of America”.

      Not once did Obama try to appeal specifically to any one community and that was ultimately to his credit. Pity many politicians aren’t so inclusive in their politics, eh?

      Have a nice day.

    75. billaricaydickey — on 7th November, 2008 at 12:41 pm  

      Sunny,

      Fair play to you as the Irish say, you don’t delete posts because you don’t agree with them and I promise to be diplomatic in future!

      I hope that people are looking at the Lester Holloway article and the reception it has got. I have been censored by CiF and this is happening on a regular basis. I suspect that this is because the person who does the censoring is one Joseph Harker who is a professional “black” man even lighter skinned than Obama and Lee Jasper.

      Harker is allowed to write the occasional article by the Guardian and in one a few years ago he concluded that all white people were racist, it can be found in their archive unless they have censored it!

      I think that you are becoming the only forum where these kind of issues can be discussed and as the Irish also say ” more power to your elbow”. And on that not I am going to exercise my elbow as the pubs are open, everyone is slagging off Lester Holloway and all is right with the world!

    76. Kulvinder — on 7th November, 2008 at 2:58 pm  

      So he won then?

    77. billericaydicky — on 7th November, 2008 at 4:05 pm  

      Kulvinder Ji,

      What are you on about?

    78. Leon — on 8th November, 2008 at 1:19 am  

      Nothing that has been said or will be said on this forum, will detract from the fact THAT I’ve got a great big massive smile on my face. Trust me when I say, I’m not alone.

      Heh I know what you mean, still find myself even now a few days later just smiling over this.

    79. billericaydicky — on 8th November, 2008 at 7:05 am  

      But, Leon, what are you smiling about? The fact that the best candidate by far won or a man claimed has black, even though his mother was white, has won?

      There is more than a bit of anti white triumphalism doing the rounds at the moment but this site has been mercifully free of it so far.

      I would have voted Obama because I just wouldn’t vote for Bush not because of the colour of his skin. Did anyone look at the CiF debate? You will now have to put Lester Holloway into archive and when I had a look a few minutes ago the second page of the posts wouldn’t come up, seems to be permanently loading.

    80. Kulvinder — on 8th November, 2008 at 7:48 am  

      Kulvinder Ji,

      What are you on about?

      Sorry its an ‘in joke’; theres always some news stories around that everyone has heard of but that for some reason are mentioned in the manner of ‘breaking news’, my friends and i started feigning ignorance to see just how far we could go, it started with diana (shes dead? really? she became princess of wales?!! etc)

      Obamamania brought out the juvenile in me.

      I wish him well but the mawkish sentiment is becoming a bit much; the politics of symbolism are ultimately empty and rhetoric aside i can’t see him doing much to fundamentally change the US, but we’ll see.

      I notice Trevor Phillips and his institutionalracismometer are out again.

    81. billericaydicky — on 8th November, 2008 at 9:20 am  

      Kulvinder,

      I see! Actually it’s the kind of thing I come out with and is derived from Jewish humour, that is a race that can seriously take the piss out of themselves.

      I can see the analagy being made with the death of Diana. At the time I was having a drink with an old friend the Indian writer and journalist Mala Sen at the Windmill on Clapham Common.

      It was at the height of the hysteria and we both agreed that we were unaffected by it and that some kind of, I use the word against, hysteria had taken over the country to the extent that people actually became hostile if you didn’t share the grief.

      We were being approached by total strangers who wanted to bond with us over the death of a woman they had never met and got pissed of if you didn’t join in.

      I don’t know if people have looked at the Lester Holloway article on CiF but it gives good indication of how Guardian readers view the whole thing and I don’t think you can get more liberal than that lot.

      Can’t understand your reference to Trevor Phillips though. As far as I can make out he has stayed away from the whole thing and I can’t remember seeing a single reference to him. He of course was brought in to shut down the witch hunters of the CRE and is definitely out of favour with the black triumphalists.

      Jewish joke! Becky says to Morry “Close the window it’s cold outside”. Morry replies ” And if I close it will it be warm outside?”. It’s the way you tell them!

    82. Kulvinder — on 8th November, 2008 at 9:24 am  

      nb for all the back slapping about how successful and inclusive and generally brilliant the obama campaign and the democrats were; hes wasn’t exactly unambigious about his position on gay marriage, the end result of that and the fact that minority interests can’t all live in harmony in one political party is now clear to see.

    83. Refresh — on 8th November, 2008 at 10:20 am  

      BillerickayDicky

      I have to tell you I have yet to understand what you are going on about. Perhaps its because most of the things you have posted about have been not just off-thread but often off-site.

      I’ve been meaning to ask you to clarify but feared that you might actually tell me.

    84. Desi Italiana — on 8th November, 2008 at 10:54 am  

      Aji #74:

      “All you seem to be saying here is, “there’s still a lot racism in America and the election doesn’t mean anything.””

      That’s not what I was saying.

    85. Desi Italiana — on 8th November, 2008 at 11:08 am  

      Kulvinder #80:

      “I wish him well but the mawkish sentiment is becoming a bit much; the politics of symbolism are ultimately empty and rhetoric aside i can’t see him doing much to fundamentally change the US, but we’ll see.”

      I agree with you that he’s not going to fundamentally change US policies both domestically and internationally, and yes, the mawkish sentiment is over the top, but I agree with what Sofi said above #5. The election took place just 4 days ago, give people some time to get past the excitement of such a historic election. It’s hard to expect the majority of the voters to immediately start bitching about someone they just passionately elected this week (unless he says something really off the wall, like “I was just pulling your leg about all that anti-torture talk. I’m all for it, and it’s going to stay in place!”). Though dissent and critical queries should always be there.

      And anyway, the euphoria is already starting to die down for some (like me), in light of his appointments of Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff and Sonal Shah in his transition team.

      Alternet article:

      “Is Obama Screwing His Base with Rahm Emanuel Selection?”

      http://www.alternet.org/election08/106189/is_obama_screwing_his_base_with_rahm_emanuel_selection/

      and

      http://blogs.cqpolitics.com/davidcorn/2008/11/is-rahm-emanuel-right-for-obam.html

      Not every American is entirely drunk.

    86. justathought — on 8th November, 2008 at 11:33 am  

      Whatever the exact statistical increase, of course some proportion of the additional black and ethnic minority votes for Obama were because of his race. It might be a trivial parallel, but my dad will always support the football team with the Irish manager or the most Irish players. Yes, it’s a different ball game, and yes, football supporters are generally unashamedly blindly loyal. But so are some voters. It might be selling him short, but my dad would also probably place default support in an Irish candidate for Prime Minister in Britain without too much concern for the detail of their policies. We’re fortunate enough to live in a society where it would be unthinkable that the fact that a leader was of a similar racial background would mean that you could expect more favourable treatment, but for a whole host of reasons there is loyalty and an assumption that the shared background brings shared basic principles and empathy. This is a feeling that is obviously stronger amongst those ethnic groups who have greater feelings of solidarity through a more recent history of (if not present) adversity.

      But yes, for the vast majority who swung the result in Obama’s favour their vote not because of his race. In theory more votes might have been based on race… New UK employment legislation puts an obligation on public sector employers to consider an applicant’s race as a factor when two candidates are otherwise equivalent. The reason for the legislation is not because it is suggested that employers are racist and bigoted but because a history of adversity and discrimination has created barriers to entry and statistical imbalances - in boards of directors, in selection panels, in government. As well as a failure to properly reflect society, this creates a danger of unconscious bias. And one way of dealing with it is to address the imbalances consciously, artificially. But arguments about how close this comes to positive discrimination are redundant. It only works in theory. It will never be the case that two people are equivalent. It is impossible to envisage a situation where you like two candidates equally and so will end up choosing one simply because of their race. Albeit that sometimes factors that make one candidate stronger might be indirectly because of their racial background, the experiences this has given them, and the person this has made them.

      The same goes for a Presidential candidate. Obama’s supporters made a decision based on his campaign and his policies, in light of the current economic/political climate and the available alternative - and it is wonderful to see proof that the time has come that this can happen in spite of race. One of advantages of the relative hype surrounding the US Presidential campaign is that there is a high level of information and engagement and, one would hope, less blind voting. The conclusion made by the majority of American voters is simply that McCain was not an equivalently good candidate for the job.

    87. El Cid — on 8th November, 2008 at 11:48 am  

      Ok, let’s get talk very briefly about the elephant in the room.
      The vast majority of U.S. blacks voted for Obama, so clearly race was a factor there. In a narrow sense it was a racist voting pattern. There is no getting away from that, unless you have a lobotomy.
      However, I’m hardly setting the heather on fire by stating a truism. As I’ve said before, it is a hugely understandable voting pattern in the context of U.S. history — one I have no problem with. We’re not going to get to a point — somewhere vaguely in the future — where ALL people vote for candidates not “because of the colour of the skin but because of the content of their character”, unless it’s accepted by all that there is a level playing field.
      Obama’s victory is a crucial milestone in that respect and will hopefully encourage the black vote to gradually disseminate across the political spectrum. But like many things, that is not a given.
      As justforfun points using the Irish analogy, it might take another generation at least for that to happen.

    88. marvin — on 8th November, 2008 at 12:32 pm  

      Indeed EL Cid, estimates from 95-97% of African Americans voted for Obama. That’s in simpler terms, *nearly all*. Perhaps they just liked the mantra for “hope” and “change”! LOL.

      Pretending it’s got nothing to do with it, or in the case of Sunny saying it worked against him does appear a bit ridiculous to say the least.

      Far more people voted for Obama because they wanted to see a black president rather than not vote because they don’t want a black president. Wasn’t it something like 1 in 10 voters were voting for the first time, the majority being African Americans?

      Why not? It’s fantastic symbolism of progress in the once slave owning, then racist segregated country.

    89. Leon — on 8th November, 2008 at 12:45 pm  

      Refresh, you and me both. I can’t be bothered with engaging with him given his obvious pathological desire to turn every thread into something about the black people he hates…just ignore him is my advice.

    90. douglas clark — on 8th November, 2008 at 1:48 pm  

      Leon,

      I thought this was quite interesting:

      http://jimjay.blogspot.com/2008/11/reframing-of-obamas-victory.html

    91. Leon — on 8th November, 2008 at 2:30 pm  

      Yep saw it, the LG Test Blog comment is by me. ;)

    92. douglas clark — on 8th November, 2008 at 6:23 pm  

      Leon,

      Oops. ;-)

    93. Ravi Naik — on 9th November, 2008 at 12:43 am  

      The vast majority of U.S. blacks voted for Obama, so clearly race was a factor there. In a narrow sense it was a racist voting pattern.

      I do not believe this to be the case.

      First of all, there have been other black candidates before, like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and blacks didn’t vote en masse to these candidates. In fact, they went to support Clinton.

      And second, blacks are the most loyal Democrat group, which means that in a presidential race, they always massively vote against Republicans.

      And third, this is the year where Democrats got new registered voters across all groups. Not surprising, Democrats gained a significant percentage virtually in all groups - not only with blacks, but also with whites and Hispanics.

      So the percentage of blacks voting Obama is not at all surprising, and I do not believe there is evidence that blacks voted Obama just on the account of his race, or at least, it is not as significant as the minority of McCain voters who voted against Obama because of his race, specially in the Appalachia region.

    94. El Cid — on 9th November, 2008 at 10:57 am  

      Let’s just agree to disagree on that one Ravi. The key point I would emphasise again, though, is that it matters not one iota to me on this occasion. As I see it, I’m just stating a truism. Context is everything.

    95. persephone — on 9th November, 2008 at 3:55 pm  

      this is like trying to assess which white presidents were elected because of THEIR colour. You don’t see that being debated.

    96. persephone — on 9th November, 2008 at 3:56 pm  

      @ 81

      Mala Sen? Who is that?

    97. justathought — on 9th November, 2008 at 7:31 pm  

      There’s no elephant. No-one is pretending that race wasn’t a factor. And we’re still talking about it. But if we theorise about the decision-making of the majority of voters it just isn’t credible to suggest that Obama won because of his race.

      To state that truism again, a lot of BEM voters will have voted for Obama because of his race. And yes, race-based voting will continue to be significant until/unless we have a society where race is not an issue. To continue with the Irish analogy, if we consider that not only 1916 and the partition but a 19th famine are still strongly felt by some, it would follow that race would continue to be an issue (although of lessening significance over time) for several generations after reaching that utopia. And although it is true that BEM voters would not have voted for just any black candidate, it does not necessarily follow that they didn’t vote for Obama because he is black. There is a spectrum of levels of informative-ness but most ‘blind’ race-based voters will still require a basic level of credibility in a candidate. It’s a default vote, with limits.

      So yes, clearly race is a factor. But for what I see as the majority of Obama voters - and this is what matters in reaching a conclusion about the reason for the election result - I don’t believe that it was an important factor. No rational voter would choose a President to make for an historic victory for race relations if they did not believe that they were the better candidate for the job. The point of the public-sector equality analogy is that in the (practically infeasible) scenario where Obama is faced with an opponent who is equally strong in all respects, many rational voters might well have chosen the option of the first black President. It wouldn’t be the whole reason why they chose him, but the swinging factor. Any form of positive discrimination is uncomfortable, but this is slightly different and more justifiable that the crude type, while we are still in the process towards a level playing field. But this isn’t what happened here. Just as if it was suggested that you were chosen for a job because you were of an ethnic minority that was under-represented in the workplace, when you had the ability and qualifications, and when you had thoroughly prepared for and had the kind of charisma that made the interview an obvious success, to suggest that he won because of his race is an insult to Obama and his campaign.

    98. El Cid — on 9th November, 2008 at 8:01 pm  

      so we’re agreed, good.

    99. Presidential Race On Best Political Blogs » Blog Archive » Comment on Obama’s victory: too much emphasis on race by Ravi Naik — on 9th November, 2008 at 8:48 pm  

      [...] Comment on Obama’s victory: too much emphasis on race by Ravi Naik And second, blacks are the most loyal Democrat group, which means that in a presidential race, they always massively vote against Republicans. [...]

    100. Ravi Naik — on 9th November, 2008 at 11:16 pm  

      To state that truism again, a lot of BEM voters will have voted for Obama because of his race… And although it is true that BEM voters would not have voted for just any black candidate, it does not necessarily follow that they didn’t vote for Obama because he is black.

      Actually, nothing that has been presented here follows that blacks voted Obama *just* on the merit of him being black. So, we can agree to disagree on this issue, but don’t tell me it is a truism.

      I actually went to see the statistics from the last election, and 88% of blacks voted Kerry, as opposed to 95% to Obama. That was a hike of just 7%. Now, if Kerry was black, I guess it would be a truism that blacks voted overwhelming to Kerry because of his race. But the fallacy here is to forget that Blacks do vote massively against Republicans (less than 10%), and for the generic Democrat candidate.

      That leaves 7% of blacks who might have voted Obama just on the merits of his race. In other words, 7% would have voted Republican, Independent or stayed at home if you had a white Democrat. This assuming, no new black voters, no reason to feel more dissatisfied with the economy than in 2004, or feeling angry with the Republican party after how Bush handled Katrina (2005).
      I suspect that a white Democrat would get at least 90% on that front.

      In any case, with 5% or 7% you might have an elephant in room. But it is a dead one. ;)

      (Incidentally, Obama got 2% more Whites, 7% more Asians, 16% more Hispanics than Kerry. Is it self-evident that all these extra people voted Obama because they wanted a black President?)

    101. El Cid — on 10th November, 2008 at 7:44 pm  

      Actually, nothing that has been presented here follows that blacks voted Obama *just* on the merit of him being black.

      Certainly not!

      But 95% is 95%. Just take a step back and look at that number. How hard must it be to move up 7 percentage points from such a high starting number?

      “I suspect that a white Democrat would get at least 90% on that front.”

      I can’t prove you are wrong but I strongly suspect you are wrong — in 2008 anyway. Who knows what 2058 might bring.

    102. justathought — on 10th November, 2008 at 9:02 pm  

      El Cid, yes I would have thought so. I was hardly saying much controversial, just my emphasis/perspective. It was just a comment, justathought.

    103. justathought — on 10th November, 2008 at 9:15 pm  

      Ravi, we can only theorise about why people vote the way they do but whatever the exact numbers who did surely you can’t deny that some BEM votes were because of race. I don’t believe the word ‘just’ was used there though, and that changes quite a lot. So I’m not sure we have to agree to disagree on that at all, except about semantics. In any case, these voters I have suggested are the minority in terms of an overall conclusion on the election result.



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