Let’s Quit Fooling Ourselves: This Election Is Mainly About Race

I’ve heard enough about “the Bradley effect” to throw up my arms and run screaming into the woods. Does anyone really believe that a significant number of white people are telling pollsters they plan to vote for Obama when they really plan to vote for McCain – because they’re ashamed to admit they’re prejudiced? Where do these strange people live? Not in America! As far as I can see, racist American voters are not ashamed of their prejudice; many are proud of it. Didn’t you see that man with his “Obama” monkey at Sarah Palin’s rally? And what about those “Obama” monkey dolls they sell on the web (pictured below, right)?monkey

Look, I am a liberal so I am voting for Barack Obama. I am voting for Obama because he has superior intelligence and the kind of temperament I want in a leader, and because I agree with most of his proposals, etc., etc… But there’s more to it than that. I am also voting for Obama because it will do my old heart good to see a “person of color” in the White House. I have had enough of the presumed superiority of the Aryan race, and I think it’s time for the free world to have a non-white leader.

There are a lot of voters like me – black, white and every shade in between. We might not all be of the same race, but we are – at least in part – racist in our motivation. I would be amazed if Obama gets less than 90 percent of the “black” vote. I notice also that Hispanics are lining up behind Obama. They’re not deaf. They hear Palin firing up her lily-white crowds by telling them Obama “is not like us.” A lot of Hispanics are “not like her,” too.  They don’t want a vice president who thinks non-white Americans are “different.” That’s the first step toward discrimination – and worse. I bet Obama will get at least 60 percent of the Hispanic vote.

However, a lot of Asians are going to vote against Obama. I’ve heard from Asian friends, and some (especially the older ones) say they don’t want the country run by a cabal of African-Americans “the way some American cities are.” But I suspect the truth is that while they feel different from white Americans, they feel even more different from black Americans. Fortunately for Obama, Asians are a small minority of voters.

What about the Jews?  I don’t see Jews as an identifiable racial group in America any more. There are as many different kinds of Jewish-Americans as there are Americans. Some are old, some are young; some are rich, some are poor;  some are liberal, some are neo-cons … I imagine the old, the rich and the neo-cons will vote for John McCain, while the young, the poor and the liberals will support Obama.

I know Obama will not run the country on race-based policies. I wouldn’t vote for him if I thought he would. He is too sophisticated – and way too pragmatic – for that. He is genuinely post-racial. And, by the way, so are the hordes of young voters who got his movement going. This country is changing – for the better. We are getting closer to Martin Luther King’s dream: Many Americans are now prepared to judge others by the content of their character not the color of their skin.

But that doesn’t mean white racism is dead. I would guess about half of America’s white voters will stick with McCain despite his obvious deficiencies. Some will be anti-abortion zealots, of course. But it will be mainly because of his race that Obama can forget about Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia,  Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming. White racist voters will play a major role also in Colorado, Idaho, North and South Dakota, Florida, Missouri, Nevada and North Carolina. But I believe these states have enough liberals, young voters or Hispanics (or all of the above) to give Obama a fighting chance.

In the other states, young voters, liberals, Hispanics and others who are “not like” Sarah Palin will probably vote in enough numbers for Obama to win the day. That does not mean they have no white racist residents. That’s obviously an absurd thought. But with the economy in tatters, residents of these states are more concerned with feeding their bellies than their prejudices, and most of them are smart enough to realize Obama is their only hope. So give Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio – and possibly Indiana and West Virginia – to Obama. He is also likely to win Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Hawaii,  Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin for various reasons – mostly because enlightened white voters and Americans who are “not like” Sarah Palin have become the majority in those states.

In the popular vote, Obama will likely get half the white voters (that’s 35 percent of the total), 60 percent of the Hispanic vote (add another 10 percent), and nearly all the black vote (another 12 percent). That’s 57 percent. That would indicate that if everybody who can vote goes to the polls, Obama will win. And America will never be the same again. Neither will the world.

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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