Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Race, Bigotry and the Voting Booth

The Chicago Tribune discovers that--stop the presses!--race still matters to some white voters. Anyone who lives in this country and occasionally keeps their eyes open might have already figured that out. Psychologists, meanwhile, explore the effects of the subtle bigot in our brains. One eye-opener from this excellent (latter) article: "Using a variety of sophisticated methods, psychologists have established that people unwittingly hold an astounding assortment of stereotypical beliefs and attitudes about social groups: black and white, female and male, elderly and young, gay and straight, fat and thin. Although these implicit biases inhabit us all, we vary in the particulars, depending on our own group membership, our conscious desire to avoid bias and the contours of our everyday environments. For instance, about two thirds of whites have an implicit preference for whites over blacks, whereas blacks show no average preference for one race over the other."


At 8:11 PM, Anonymous Mike said...

Once there was a lot of prejudice within the white community between nationalities. Now it's largely a thing of the past.

When Cleveland and other cities were experiencing the wrenching racial turmoil of the late 60s, I thought it would take longer, but that eventually racial prejudice, too, would fade.

But I am amazed -- and disheartened -- at how persistent racial prejudice can be. Just look at employment discrimination. At one time blacks were excluded from many jobs. Now many believe they're getting those jobs only because of their color.

At 8:46 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Well said, Mike. Given these dynamics, I'm left thinking Obama not only won't be elected president, but that he has little or no chance of winning. Of course, it would help if he had a lot more experience for the job. But that's a story left for another day.

At 2:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow John, what an articulate and insightful, even magestic, comment about Obama and his lack of experience. I do not think there would be much of a story to tell about Obama and expereince because there is very little that gives people the confidence that Obama is ready for the job. The story left for another day is the one on McCain. You turned me on to McCain from an article you clipped. I cannot think of one person who i know that is revved up about John McCain, including myself.

It sounds like you are casting Obama as the George McGovern '72 canidate. We'll see how it shapes up. You would think the R's would get their house in order or at least their campaign in gear. I think Senator Obama has a better chance than you think.

Keep it real,

At 6:40 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

I'm not so sure that--given the context of weariness with Bush, the war and the Republican party generally--Obama could lose by a landslide. The structural circumstances seem to be against that, at least at the moment. But I do think McCain has to be considered the prohibitive favorite.

No, most people are not revved up for McCain, though many (or at least far more) would be if he had remained the maverick and hadn't patched things up with Bush or the right wing of his party. But then, if he hadn't, he also probably would not be the nominee. So you have to remember that electoral politics in a two-party system is funny that way, and that at the presidential level, it's pretty unforgiving to those who refuse to make compromises in light of certain political realities. Candidates in multiparty systems, such as those in Europe, can afford to be more doctrinaire in their beliefs because they can win office with a smaller slice of the total vote. I try to remind myself of those dynamics whenever I think about how his positions and even his persona has changed so much since 2000. He's unfortunately been chastened by our less-than-ideal system, as well as by the moral brutality and thugishness of the worst elements of his own party.

At 7:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that Obama is a magnificent contender and that John McCain is running on the past, but I do not want to offend anyone by my opinion. I think that being a POW was terrible but enough already what is the wisdom in contemplating more of the Bush policies?

Other countries think of our Iraq war as an invasion not a war at all. John McCain supports the war.

I must admit that Obama moves me by his conviction and whither the resume is light or not is of no importance when you encounter brilliance.


At 8:01 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

I'm not surprised to learn you're an Obama person. He would seem to touch all or most of the things you care most about. Then again, some of those things you care about might just have changed since I last saw you.


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