on the Current U.S. Presidential Race:
Reflections on the Current U.S. Presidential Race: A Close
Look at Hillary Clinton's Genitalia and Barrack Obama's Complexion
I am genuinely excited about the current battle for the U.S. presidency, even though I am not in the least excited about any of the major candidates. While I believe that this is an important race, for many reasons, the way large numbers of people are deciding who to support is sidetracking the contest into the most irrelevant channels I can imagine. Frankly, I find several of the criteria, race and gender in particular, that voters are using to choose a candidate to be outright foolish. This perception doesn't, however, make the race any less fascinating for me. In some ways, I'm actually captivated by such foolishness.
I do not deny the historical importance of the fact that the contest to be the Democratic Party's nominee for president is being fought between a Caucasian woman and a black man. That it is says quite a bit about the advances that both blacks and women have made in the United States. However, the fact that so many people are voting for one candidate because she's a woman or the other because he's black considerably diminishes the magnitude of this landmark. We've turned what could have been a monumental historical occurrence into a mere curiosity. Instead of an historical event on the scale of Mount Rushmore, we've left ourselves the equivalent of a concrete statue of Popeye the Sailor Man.
To put it simply, many people are motivated largely, or at least in part, by a desire to see either a woman or a black man advanced. Race and gender, then, are still relevant in this contest. As I said, it's significant that a woman and a black could stand for such an important nomination, but we're diminishing their achievements by giving into the same kinds of blind opinions, that is to say prejudices, that they overcame. We will really have advanced when a woman or a non-Caucasian person can run for the presidency and that individual's gender or race will be of no importance to anyone. That will be an impressive step forward. Today's race reveals that blacks and women can run for office. It also reveals that some people will vote for these individuals because of their agendas and qualifications. Both of these facts are, of course, good. It also reveals that a lot of people still make their decisions based on a candidate's race or gender.
Sadly, voting for a candidate because that candidate is of a particular race or gender is either racist, in the former case, or sexist, in the latter. Whenever one person treats another in a certain way based on that other's sex, although the other's sex is not a relevant factor in how that individual should be treated, then the first person is behaving in a sexist way. Similarly, whenever one person treats another in a certain way based on that other's race, although the other's race is not a relevant factor in how that individual should be treated, then the first person is behaving in a racist way. The specific race or sex of the individual being treated differently because of his or her race or sex is hardly important. If a white employer hires a person because he's white, rather than because he's the most qualified person for the job, then the employer's decision is racist. In the same way, if a black voter chooses a candidate because that candidate is black, rather than because he's the most qualified person for the job, then the voter's decision is racist. Unless an individual's race or sex is relevant to why a person should be chosen for something, then it is not proper to take these things into account.
As should be obvious from this last statement, I am not claiming that race or gender are never relevant. They can be in both public and personal decisions. With regard to the latter, I could mention that if a man is attracted to tall, busty blondes, it is unlikely that he will date many Chinese women. He isn't being racist by excluding them. It's just that there are very few tall, busty, Chinese blondes. Similarly, if a man is only attracted to other men, he's not being sexist when he doesn't date any women. They simply lack the characteristics to which he's attracted. In the public sphere, preferring one person over another based on that person's sex or race may seem more problematic, but, even here, these can be relevant. If a director is making a movie about Mao Tse-Tung and, when casting someone for the lead role, instead of hiring Halle Berry, a much lauded black actress, he chooses a less accomplished actor of Chinese descent, then I can hardly say that he's being either racist or sexist. Race and sex are both relevant factors in this case.
Let's be honest here, now. Neither race nor gender has any bearing upon a person's being qualified to be the president of the United States. If someone is backing Hillary Clinton because she's a woman, he's being sexist, just as someone who's backing McCain or Obama because either of these is a man is being sexist. If someone is backing Obama because he's black, he's being racist, just as someone who's backing McCain or Clinton because either of these is white is being racist.
I truly have no idea what is going on in the minds of people who decide which candidate to support based on that candidate's sex or race. Why would anyone back a candidate based on that candidate's possession of one or more particular bodily organs? How, in the case at hand, are the candidates' genitalia and skin important? The idea that there are people who are choosing who is to be the leader of the world's only super power based on whether that person has a penis or vagina or if that person has skin of a certain color is utterly bizarre.
We should not be examining the genitalia or skin of Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama, John McCain, or any other possible candidate. We should, instead, be looking at what is relevant. First, each and every one of us able to vote in the U.S. should ask which of these individuals is most likely to push the agenda that we believe is right. Second, we should all ask which of these individuals is likely to be competent in the job of president. It is by weighing these factors that we should come to a decision. Certainly, we do actually have to weigh these factors. We might agree more with one candidate but select another because we feel the first candidate would not be a skilled leader. Alternatively, we might find one candidate more competent than another but prefer the less competent candidate because we disagree strongly with the agenda advocated by the more competent candidate. Looking at such things is important. It is critical we do so. Let's get out of our candidates' underwear and forget about what continent their ancestors came from. Let's ask some relevant questions.
Like I said before, it says a lot about the changes this country has undergone that a black and a woman are now fighting to decide which of them will be the presidential nominee of one of the nation's two major parties. However, the fact that sex and race are important factors in this contest, that many people are choosing a candidate based on these factors, reminds me how far we yet have to go. I am captivated by the drama of America's changing, and the current presidential race highlights many of the things that this country has achieved, as well as many of the things it yet needs to achieve.
By Keith Allen
© 2008 firstname.lastname@example.org Keith Allen. All rights reserved.