The Enduring Foolishness of Racial Politics

With only a few weeks to Election Day, racial politics has reared its pathetic head as pundits attempt to decipher poll numbers and audience comments at political rallies. It seems silly to imagine that adults in America may vote along racial lines but it should come as no surprise. Many people on the ideological margins of society vote irrationally. In fact, voting along racial lines says less about racism than it does about the lack of mature civic responsibility among voters who are indifferent to the nation’s common good.

While using race as an ultimate criterion for supporting or rejecting a candidate is equally unjustifiable and shallow, the possibility of doing exactly that is one of the trade-offs of being free. Positively, freedom permits us to choose a candidate according to important issues such as his or her positions on abortion, the role of government in meeting the needs of the poor, foreign policy, and education. I am happy to live in a country with this type of liberty rather than a regime where I have no role in choosing leaders to represent me.

When I hear African Americans, Latinos, and Asians lament, “It’s 2008 and racism still exists in America,” I want to shout, “What fairytale were you reading that said racism would ever cease?” One of the historic tenets of Judeo-Christianity, along with many other religions, is that evil exists in the world. As long as people lack the moral formation to escape it, there will always be racism.

What is most alarming about the media’s recent displays of racial politics is that many American voters do not have the civic virtue to put their personal racial views aside for the sake of what is best for the nation. Race does not determine a person’s position on issues. Do Maxine Waters and Condoleezza Rice think alike simply because they are both black women? Shallow voting is the art of the imperceptive.

In light of the gargantuan issues facing the nation — the conflicts in the Middle East, the nationalization of American banking, transitions in our use of energy, new international partnerships among socialist regimes in Europe, Latin America, and Asia, and the multi-layered issues in Africa — we should be embarrassed as a nation for the world to see people downgrade the presidential election to gene preferences.

What Americans must embrace is their responsibility as virtuous citizens concerned about the common good. This means that we put non-essential issues like race aside to choose a candidate with the character and competence necessary to offer leadership on the pressing issues of our times.

For example, which candidate has the wisdom to understand that championing economic liberty in the market has historically proven to be the best way to create wealth and lift people out of poverty? Which candidate champions justice embedded in a rule of law that keeps corruption, power, and greed in check?

Which candidate has the humility to know that neither he, nor any other small group of central planners, has enough knowledge or expertise to use government to manage the lives of 300 million people? Which candidate has the courage to fight for human life? Which candidate has the personal integrity to encourage trust and cooperation? In light of these critical questions, who cares about the candidate’s race?

The term Bradley effect (after 1980s California gubernatorial candidate Tom Bradley) describes the phenomenon whereby white voters actually cast ballots for white instead of black candidates in greater numbers than earlier polls indicate. As we approach November, questions surrounding a potential Bradley effect pale in comparison to the possibility that many people will vote according to irrational criteria in general. We could call this the potential “foolishness effect.”

May truth and reason prevail in the coming weeks, so that both campaigns and the media will keep in front of voters the candidates’ principles and policies —  rather than talking points befitting high school yearbook senior superlatives.

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  • Cooky642

    I could wish that YOUR “Bradley effect” would rule in our election, but I doubt it. Those who are voting FOR a black candidate are even more racially motivated than those who are voting against. Still, one candidate and the MSM will “play the race card” right to the end. I think they are trying to shame those of us who will not vote for their candidate into changing our minds.

    A young Jewish friend once said to me, “Don’t Catholics live their lives around feelings of guilt and shame?” At the time, I laughed. Now, I could truthfully say, “Not THAT kind of guilt and shame!”

  • Grace Harman

    If a candidate is voted “for” because of his color- irregardless of issues – the voter is just as wrong as if they voted against him for his color. Even “party” is not a good reason to vote for someone without considering the issues.
    This election has issues about basic morality and value of life (with long-lasting effects due to potential Supreme Court appointments). There are actually millions of lives at stake and if we vote for the candidate who supports death GOD will judge US and we will answer for those deaths as individuals as well as by the collapse of our nation. Hitler’s regime lasted less than 15 years. The U.S.S.R. lasted less than 75. It was said “America is great because she is good. If she ceases to be good, she will cease to be great”. Socialism doesn’t work. It brings mediocrity. Moral bankruptcy brings poverty to a society as well. We must vote for protection of Life and God’s values.

  • yblegen

    I can see that those of us at CE are appalled that there are those who would choose a candidate by the color of their skin although those same individuals disagree with the content of his message and, I dare say, his character. Yet, I have observed that very thing. Many have no idea of the content or the character of the person they are voting for, they are just voting for him because of the color of his skin. Even those who do know and disagree with the content and character of the candidate are still voting for him because of the color of his skin. I am deeply saddened.

  • MICHAEL

    I am tired of reading about the so called Bradley effect and the potentail for whie’s voting against Obama because he is black. Look at the polls for Pete’s sake. Obama is garnering in the neighborhhod of 40-50% of the white vote and McCain has 5% of the black vote. Mr. Bradley, where is the racism here?

  • joanspage

    Obama has campaigned among whites. McCain hasn’t sought the black vote. He has not campaigned in black areas. So why would blacks support him?

  • Warren Jewell

    Well, joanspage,

    B.O. has been campaigning in my neck of the woods – precisely, Cook County, Illinois – as well as the rubber-stamp Demo-socialist federal Representative for my district, for lo these last ten years. His first stump speeches were tinged with the usual ‘spread-the-wealth-to-us-victims’, in his first runs. He has since learned, really, only to hide his real self behind flows of fluffy rhetoric.

    Can you really say that any voter cannot know enough about B.O. v. J.M. not to see a bit more rationality – AT LEAST, of rationality – in the latter than the former?

    But, since blacks are voting what amounts to racialistically this time – and as they have before for B.O. – that is, 95% Democratic, which makes them a ‘bloc’ where as 55% whites voting for the white candidate are ‘racists’ – and, so voting so very plainly so, of what value would it be for McCain to campaign among them?

    Barack Obama is a typically mendacious socialist – and, when caught out by facts, proves it every time.

  • trailblazer

    There is only one white and black issue in this campaign: for life or against it.

    Michael

  • Narwen

    If anybody would try to paint me as ‘racist’ for not voting for Obama, I would simply point out that I was proud to be a supporter of Alan Keyes back when he was running.

  • joanspage

    You campsign to persuade, to let people know you care about them.

    McCain just wrote of blacks.

  • Warren Jewell

    No, joan,

    Blacks have LONG written off voting anything but Democratic – as long and longer than I have been a voter, since 1968. Republicans (independents like Keyes, etc.) need not apply. And, the Democrats have the race of blacks voting in racialist fashion this time, as they have had dead folk voting Democratic around Cook County for fifty years.

    And, the black folk vote for the party that for all purposes supports the vastly greater proportion of abortion of blacks. Hence, Democratic leadership doesn’t mind buying into the eugenics of Margaret Sanger, a la Planned Parenthood, even as both the party and PPA will eventualy collapse due to lack of adherents.

    And, thence, of ‘writing-off’, the Deomcrats, PPA and blacks themselves are writing blacks off at well over a thousand unborn little ones a day. A number of black leaders have pointed this out. Are they being heard by blacks? Does it seem as if they are being heard? (NOT that I can see) So, why would John McCain be heard?

  • BerenCamlost

    I actually think the opposite of the “Bradley effect” is happening. I know of many white people who are voting for Obama to show how unbiased they are. “Look at how non-racist I am! See? I am voting for a black candidate, no matter what he believes or what will happen to the country!”

  • MICHAEL

    I may not have the right perspective here in this idea of letting people know you care about them. To me, the Democrat aproach to caring for minorities (and for that matter anyone who is poor or otherwise economically distressed)has been to give them handouts-money, food stamps, healthcare, etc. In many cases this has led to an almost institutionalized and generational welfare for families. These families and groups have become so dependent upon the government for their very subsistence that they have forgotten how to make it on their own and quite frankly I believe have in some sense been de-humanzied. Their sense of self-value, their uniquenes as individuals, created in the image and likeness of God has been usurped. In many cases, I wonder if they even think of God or is it the government they look to?

    Now, I am not proposing that we cut off welfare or any of the needed social programs, but can we have some balance? Can we teach people once again to rely on God and themselves and their neighbors. to lend a hand, but then to teach and remind these folks that their is value and dignity in working and taking care of your self and your family. The power of the Democrat party with minorities is in that they hold the carrots and I hate to say it like this have almost ‘trained” people to act in a way or that carrott might go away. To be quite honest with you, I look at it as a modern day enslavement of people. the master in this case is the government and the power of the handouts that they have.

    I look at my own children as they grew up. I was and am blessed in that I have the economic means to care for my family (Thanks be to God). However, I never just gave to my children-never just handed out money or presents-they were taught to earn it. to work for it. In the long run, I think they are better people for it. They made be tired, frustrated, or annoyed when they come home from work, but when the paycheck comes on a Friday, they also get that wonderful feeling of having been a success. So in sum, we need to lend a hand when people are down, but lets not keep down to become a slave to the government, lets emanciapte them so they too can enjoy the fruits of their labors.,

  • marcey

    Warren,

    Thank you for saying what so despertely needs to be said.

    And can I add that with McCain sticking to his promise regarding funding and now at a real disadvantage and obama not keeping to his promise regarding funding (does anyone care?) McCain’s little resources need to go where people will at least give him somewhat of a glimmer of hope.

    Why should McCain spend what little he has (whether time or money) in areas where he won’t be listened to regardless of his message. And meanwhile, obama who blatantly lied about campaign funding now digs deep into a chest overlfowing with money, can spread his additional lies through the medium which already showers him with undeserved and unearned adulation.

  • SolaGratia

    joanspage,
    Why should any politician have to ask for the votes of blacks? Or hispanics? Or Italians? Or Irish? (Do you see where this is going yet?)

    Shouldn’t our politicians be asking for the votes of AMERICANS?

    Shouldn’t Americans be voting based on the character, resume, platform & promises of the candidates?

  • http://arkanabar.blogspot.com Arkanabar Ilarsadin

    I remember once reading the story of a Libertarian Party run for governor of NY; they got a very expensive political consultant, who told them: “Seven dollars a vote. You will get one vote for every seven dollars of campaign spending.” And they did.

    I wonder how broadly applicable that sort of computation really is — it may well spell an Obama presidency (the Return of Jimmy Carter). At that point, the best we can hope for is gridlock.

    Actually, regardless of who is elected to the Presidency, the best we can hope for is gridlock.

  • joanspage

    I actually know blacks and have studied the life of Dr. King. Blacks were loyal, very loyal Republicans until 1964 when Goldwater sought out disaffected Southern whites mad about the Civil Rights Act.

    Now, I oppose abortion as much as you do but blacks sense they are not really welcomed in the GOP. The GOP must recruit black candidates or it will die.

    I am Joan’s page, not Joan.

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