Thursday, January 24, 2008

Now here you go again...

Lyric from Fleetwood Mac's Dreams.

Note: I'm about the least qualified person to discuss race relations on a wide scale. There's a good chance you may disagree with me, but feel free to tell me I'm an idiot. Just no cussing in the comments, okay?

You won't see me get political here too often, but with the South Carolina Democratic primary right around the corner, politics has been the subject of choice in our household. We've been talking a lot about race.

It pains me that so much of the primary this weekend is being tied to gender and race. I know it's a conversation the country needs to have, I just wish we could have had it before now. At the moment, there are two viable "minority" candidates, something that hasn't happened before. On the one hand you have Senator Barack Obama, who would like us to focus on his record, rather than his colour. On the other hand, you have Senator Hillary Clinton, who's husband came out and said yesterday the primary is going to flow along gender and race lines.

My question is, why? Why does it have to?

We just celebrated the King holiday this week. We honoured a man who wanted to see a world where a person was judged by their character and not the colour of their skin, and yet we have people arguing in the media and amongst each other about voting your race or voting your gender.

One of the most heinous things so far was a "robocall" in advance of the Nevada caucuses, which intimated that Senator Obama had Muslim terrorist leanings. You can read more about it here. Now obviously that can't be laid at the feet of Hillary Clinton, but I didn't hear her speaking out against it, either. It may have been a PAC, or just someone who doesn't like Obama. But, it comes back to race.

I confess to being irritated by the Clintons and their tactics. Bill goes on the attack so Hillary doesn't have to, and Obama is left fighting them both. As comfortable as I was during Bill Clinton's presidency, I find myself shrinking away from the sense of entitlement the Clintons exude in their quest for a second session in the White House. Perhaps former President Clinton is just irked by the possibility that he won't be "the first black president" anymore, as author Toni Morrison once called him.

Of course, it's not just a Democrat thing.

My husband and I were discussing the Republican primary that happened last weekend in South Carolina, where John McCain came in first, and Mike Huckabee came in second. What helped push Huckabee to a second place finish? The idea that he would help South Carolina bring the Confederate flag back to the state capitol. You can read about it here and here. Again, it comes back to race.

As we were discussing the subject over dinner, TFYO interrupted, as she often does.

"Why are you talking about sports?"

"Um, we're not."

"Yes, you were. You were talking about a race and a flag. Who won the race?"

And I got to thinking, that was a very good question.

When we bring everything down to black or white, who wins?

If you'd like to read more about this, please check out some columns by Savannah Morning News writer Geveryl Robinson. I don't always agree with her, but her writing is powerful, and she always makes me think. In particular see "Bill Clinton is not black" and "Loose lips sink ships".


thegrandview said...

You are right on, Jen. Unfortunately, it is going to get significantly worse.

Bill Clinton is irking the hell out of me and I think it is because of a sense of entitlement as you say. I think, Obama is trying to stay clear of it but you have to respond when your name gets dragged through the mud.

By the way, my wife is in Atlanta (has been all week) for the NHL All-Star game. She is producing their pre-game concerts et al.

Dad said...

That, unfortunately, is why they call it politics. It always turns into who can make the most points by slamming their opponent of hour. It should be a lot more, like who has the plan to make things better for the people of this country (all the people, not just the wealthy and friends of the administration), or who will actually uphold the constitution for all people in this country (not just the select few), or will do what is right and fair and just (for all races, religions, male or female, rich or poor), who will remember that they were chosen by the people (and not by their god or their close friends), or one who will govern by honesty and follow the rule of law (and not lies, fear, and greed which has been overly used and abused these last several years), or maybe even someone with character and a great desire to serve their country and its people (and not what's in it for them or their close friends), or maybe....

The declaration of independence starts with "WE THE PEOPLE..." and that's what it should be all about.

Ok, I have almost finished my rant but it seems we now live in a country that wants to build walls around its borders based mostly perceived fear of mostly imaginary threats, where we can't take care of and abandon our own people when they are hit by a natural disaster, where we wage a war based on lies, and laws that were meant to protect all people are simply ignored, where we spend time debating on what is torture when until recently it was something that had always been considered torture and against the law. What protection do I have from my government when an individual in the White House can take away my constitutional right to legal representation, my right to habeus corpus, and my protection from search and seizure without a warrant? This is how all oppressive governments began. Even Germany was a democracy in the 1930's until fear was used to take away rights and freedoms of the individual.

For the first time in my life I'm afraid, not of natural disaster or some invisible bogey man but from my own government.

Ok, rants done.

Kaycie said...

Bill Clinton has his issues, but I always thought he was a good president. Bad husband, good politician (if that's not an oxymoron). He is predictable, and I am not surprised by his tactics, but I am disappointed by them.

Mike Huckabee scares me. I wish there were more publicity about his terms in Arkansas. He is not the upright, moral man that he projects.

There isn't a candidate who really appeals to me in either party. Well, not one who has any chance of winning, anyway.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

I'm so disgusted by the whole process that I just want to tune it out, even though I realize that that's the absolute wrong reaction.

It's all a slam contest. If you can put your opponent on the defensive you can deflect your own past and records. And the higher your profile and bank balance the better you're perceived.

The only good thing I can say about this election is that at least at the end of it that village in Texas can have its idiot back.

my two cents said...

That was a great post, and great comments. I don't really have anything to add. I always vote, and am always especially glad when the election is over just so I don't have to endure any more political ads on TV or the radio. In our state, we are governed by propositions. There are always so many confusing propositions on the ballot and the ads for and against them are equally confusing. In the end, more than caring what wins or loses and how it may affect my life, I am simply glad it is over. That is a pretty sad statement to make.

Diana said...

I agree. It is sad. I wasn't expecting that we'd be able to go through this election focusing on issues that concerned the candidates' abilities to govern and not race and gender, but I was hoping the candidates themselves would step up and try to put a stop to it.

I thought Bill Clinton was a good president but he's disappointing me greatly in his current role.

PixelPi said...

Well, Edwards made me laugh when he finally yelled over the voices of Hillary and Barack saying "There are THREE people in this debate."

Our two-party system is bad. Our politicians are corrupt. Bill Clinton should be shoved in the broom closet with a cigar until the election is over. (You said no naughty words).

Nobody plays nice in this game. And the talking heads just make it worse.

RC, I know exactly where that village in Texas is in case the idiot can't find his way. I'd be glad to give him my 1966 road map of Texas.

Teresa said...

The conversation about race and gender IS more in the eye and ear of the public now. I do not think that is necessarily a bad thing though. I feel it is an ongoing conversation that needs to happen to enable us to develop a more ethical consciousness in our government and as individuals. At least in my part of the country I do not think it is going to be a race along gender or race lines. But The Pacific NW does tend to be a bit more liberal than other parts of the country.

Willowtree said...

Every time I see John McCain, I expect him to start singing Kodachrome. I swear he's Paul Simon's twin!

zoloftmom said...

thanks for this great post. very well said.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Great post Jen. And you are so right. t should be judged on character, and nothing more.