Sunday, December 17, 2006

Is America Ready for Hillary or Barack?

Racism and sexism have a long, established history in America. For the first time in that history, we may have both a black and a female candidate for president, both of whom have popular support in their party. But is America ready for either one to be president? That's what Jonathan Alter of Newsweek is asking in Is America Ready?

This is a long and in-depth look at the issue, so I recommend you read the article to get the full argument. But I do want to present a couple of quotes:
According to a new NEWSWEEK Poll, 86 percent of registered voters would vote for a qualified woman candidate for president if their party nominated one, and 93 percent say the same for a qualified African-American. These are much higher numbers than those of a generation ago.
However, there is also this statistic:
But when asked about other people—whether "America is ready to elect a woman president"—only 55 percent say yes, with 7 percent fewer women than men answering in the affirmative. For an African-American presidential candidate, 56 percent of voters say America is ready, with more blacks than whites claiming not.
These are the most important facts in this article, especially the second one. I tend to think that people over-report their willingness to vote for a woman or a minority so as not to appear discriminatory. But when asked if America is ready for a woman or a minority, their true feelings can show through without them having to take responsibility for them.

Whether Hillary or Barack wins the nomination may be irrelevant if they cannot win a general election. And while the though of a joint ticket, as some have suggested is possible, may be too much for the majority of Americans.

It's too bad. This is the first time in history when we've have two viable candidates who are not white, protestant males. Both Hillary and Barack would be substantially better than Bush.

While I think that race might prevent Obama from winning, Hillary is running against her past role as First Lady as much as she is running against Obama or anyone else. And that past might be her most powerful opponent.

Online poll results:

In 2008, would you vote for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton (or neither) for president? * 67732 responses
Clinton
28%
Obama
37%
Neither
36%
Not a scientific survey. Click to learn more. Results may not total 100% due to rounding.

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1 comment:

Tom said...

It is still mighty early and neither Hillary nor Barack is announced. Previously, Alan Keyes, Margaret Chase Smith, Colin Powell, Shirley Chism, Sen. Braun, Rev. Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have been major-party-nomination seekers for president -- but I take your point. Hillary and Barack are immediate first-tier candidates who are very likely to run and one or the other of them is more likely than not to get the Dem nom in 08.

Until we all get past having our first female or black president, it is simply going to be an uncomfortable and weird business.

Even where gender- and race-prejudice is absent there is going to be reluctance by many to vote for a woman or black person because of the concern [unfounded or not] that the person would be coming into office with a ready-made agenda to quickly attempt to right injustice against his or her group.

If Hillary or Barack is nominated she/he would get unprecidented support from women or blacks, respectively. Resistance will set in to thwart the election of the perceived representative of a special interest group. For her or his entire term, Hil or Barack will be pressured to do a great deal to better the social situation for women or blacks, respectively.

Now, I am ALL IN FAVOR of whatever might come in with the liberal tide that elects either Hillary or Barack, but I feel I can somewhat understand the advantages each might have during the primaries and the difficulty there might be getting either elected during a general election.