I’ve seen one too many blog entries this morning praising white Iowans for being courageous enough to vote for a black man in large enough numbers to earn him a Caucus victory. That we’re having these kinds of conversations demonstrates that too many people making the comments have not moved on. I’m not arguing they’re racists; they’re not. But they’ve clearly not moved beyond race consciousness as a storyline.
Sen. Obama is black. (And white.) Big. Fucking. Deal. Is he competent to be President of the United States? That’s the bottom line. Many Iowans are saying yes. Why can’t that be enough? Why do we have to imagine that white voters in Iowa thought, “Hmm, he’s black, but I think I can actually vote for him”?
Before I appear as a Pollyanna, I get the significance. It hasn’t happened before. I’m content to read those stories. I accept that some voters won’t vote for Sen. Obama because he’s black. And some white voters will praise themselves for voting for a black man. But I’m not willing to accept the “lily white Iowa voted for a black man” as a universal explanation. That’s a flawed angle. Is it really so hard to believe that maybe voters in the past didn’t pass on candidates like Jesse Jackson and Alan Keyes because of skin color, but because they were crazy and unfit to be president?
I already said I think Sen. Obama is probably the least bad option among the candidates. But he’s still promoting a moronic slate of economic populism that will do more to further burden Americans with taxes, debt, and hampered economic growth than is remotely sane. That’s why I will not vote for him. The color of his skin has nothing to do with it. Why should it be any different for his supporters.
I’m reminded of a story I heard years ago. I can’t find a copy, but I remember it well enough to give the condensed moral. The enlightened man does not walk into a room full of differences and praise himself for overlooking them. The enlightened man does not notice the differences. Perhaps the voters in Iowa are enlightened, as opposed to the appearance of enlightenment we’re ascribing to them.
The reality that neither winning candidate’s politics satisfies the moral of my story is not lost on me. I’m a libertarian partly because I believe all men are created equally, not that a man can be more or less equal than others according to politically favored circumstances as Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee so clearly believe.