Race and politics, part two

October 19, 2012 

I would never have thought that I’d be writing two columns in a row about race and politics, but it seems like people are more race-conscious for this election than they were in 2008. It would seem, for example, that if you are a black person and you do not support President Obama’s re-election you are subject to being called some pretty nasty names.

An actress named Stacey Dash found that out last week when she took to the Twitter-verse to proclaim her support for Mitt Romney. Big mistake, Stacey! After this young lady (who is of biracial descent) failed to show support for Barack Obama (who is also of biracial descent) some of her Twitter followers were outraged and thundered back in protest.

I won’t repeat the names Ms. Dash was called, but I will quote a young college student who scolded her by saying that “you got a lil’ money and you forget that you’re black and a woman, two things Romney hates.” (Twitter is a great place to find enlightened discourse such as this, apparently.)

And that young college student isn’t the only one who thinks that race should be the deciding factor at the ballot box. Actor Samuel L. Jackson will also be casting his vote for Obama because “that’s why other folks vote for other people -- because they look like them.” That’s so true! And it’s why I never vote for blondes.

For the final word on the subject, let’s check in with rapper Snoop Dogg, who listed the following as his No. 1 reason for voting for Obama on his social media account: “He’s black.” To round out the argument, he also listed the primary reason he won’t be voting for Romney: “He’s white.”

To be fair, we should recognize that there are many Americans out there, of every race, who will vote for someone who “looks like them” if they have that option. Far too many white people have the same attitude, they just can’t openly admit to it without risking public scorn. Imagine the firestorm that would erupt if some white celebrity announced they were voting for Romney just because he is a white man.

In any case, I think it’s foolish and short-sighted for anyone to use race as the primary factor in determining their vote. We are electing someone to do a specific job -- to act as chief executive for our federal government. There are no doubt people of every race who would do that job relatively well and plenty of others of each race who would make a complete mess of things.

Imagine if you had a chance to pick the pilot of a plane you were going to fly on and your choices were to pick a person of your own race who had a habit of crashing the planes he tried to fly or someone of a different race who had a spotless flight record. Would you choose the one who was less likely to kill you or support the one who “looks like you”?

It probably wouldn’t matter if there weren’t many whatever-race-you-are pilots out there, you’d just want to get to where you were going in one piece. That’s the same attitude we ought to have when choosing a president -- supporting the candidate who is least likely to wreck the country.

Let me tell you something: If there were a black lesbian atheist running for president (we’ll call her Anita) and she respected the Constitution and had a detailed plan to get our country back on its feet financially, I’d be voting for Anita this year. Maybe Anita and I wouldn’t have a lot in common, but I want to vote for someone who will be an effective president and not someone I want to be my best friend or my life partner.

Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a country where people were more interested in what a candidate wanted to do as president and less about what they look like and how “relatable” they are?

Bill Ferguson is a resident of Centerville. Readers can write him at fergcolumn@hotmail.com or visit his blog at nscsense.blogspot.com.

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