Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Blacks overwhelming vote for Obama; are they racist?

A new NBC/WSJ poll has determined that 94% of African-Americans support Barack Obama, compared to 0% who support Mitt Romney.

Romney is white, and blacks don't like him. Obama is black, and blacks like him. Do the math - blacks are racist, and finally we have the proof.

You can hear this sort of claim from some on the Right all the time, but is it true?

Simply, no. I mean, black Americans are probably about as racist as any other kind of American, but their support for Obama isn't proof of anything much. More important than Obama's race is that he is a Democrat, and blacks overwhelmingly vote for Democrats. Below is from CNN's analysis of the 2004 election in which the incumbent George W Bush defeated Democratic challenger John Kerry.

Blacks voted overwhelmingly for Kerry too, and he's white. They probably would have voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton had she defeated Obama leading up to the 2008 election. As a matter of fact, blacks have voted overwhelmingly for white candidates in every election until 2008. Which is mighty tolerant of them.

Of course, Obama does have a higher level of black support than most previous white Democratic candidates, but it's a matter of degree. Republicans have trouble admitting it, but the reason blacks don't vote for them is because they are the de facto white people's party. The Republicans suck so bad at seeming racially enlightened that they make the Dems look like saints, which they're not.

A more interesting question would be: would blacks vote overwhelmingly for a black Republican candidate?

Well it hasn't happened yet since until Obama neither party had nominated a black candidate for President. Some have tried, yet the campaigns of Alan Keyes and Herman Cain stirred little enthusiasm amongst the black community. Had either of them somehow won the Republican nomination, we could perhaps expect a slight increase in the black vote for Republicans, but little more. Primarily because neither of them was ever a strong candidate.

Hypothetically, Colin Powell would have been an interesting choice. He was often talked about as a nominee, and in 1995 held a press conference to announce he did not intend to run. Against a white Democratic candidate, Powell would potentially have snared a sizable chunk of the black vote. Against Gore in 2000 he could have even got a majority. But Powell is a moderate. Compare him to Mitt Romney. The current Republican nominee seems to epitomise one of his party's central philosophies; that the rich and powerful are that way because they deserve it, and the downtrodden are that way because they just don't work hard enough. Don't expect that to sit well with a community who know full well that life is not a level playing field.


  1. With respect, ES, I think the whole "well blacks vote heavily Democratic anyway" argument can be easily refuted.

    Blacks also overwhelmingly voted for Obama during the 2008 primary elections. I think they supported Obama over Hilary at a 9/1 ratio.

    However, all of that aside, I think the question itself is a bit problematic. Asking whether or not blacks are racist because they voted for a fellow black guy (and let's face it, just because he was black, and not one of those Republican Uncle Tom types) presumes that there is something inherently wicked about tribalism.

    Blacks are supporting their own, and good for them! Hispanics, Asians, Jews, and various other groups do the exact same thing.

    I only wish whites would follow suit.

    To a much smaller extent, they already do. Just as blacks don't support Republicans because they're the de facto white party, many whites don't support the Democrats because it's pretty much the de facto non-white party. Or as I once heard someone say, "it's gone from the party of the factory worker to the party of the diversity consultant."

    1. Tribalism IS problematic. It's much more important to support what is best for the country rather than supporting only the interests of one's own group. That said, if one's own group is disadvantaged, then supporting that group's interests may be completely in line with supporting what is good for the nation. Is supporting the interests of white people for the betterment of the nation? I don't really think so. I don't think that applies to say, Jews, either.

      Obama being black does give him an advantage amongst black voters, but it comes down to him being a very appealing candidate. They are not going to vote for Herman Cain. I think his status leading up to 2008 as the first realistic chance for a black President gave him an extra edge over Hilary. Now that it has been proved that a black man can achieve that office, I don't think future black candidates will have quite the same advantage. Particularly as Obama's rule has shown that while he hasn't been a bad President, he's still a politician at the end of the day, not a miracle worker.

    2. It's much more important to support what is best for the country rather than supporting only the interests of one's own group.

      Well, wouldn't that defeat the whole purpose of these various racial advocacy groups in the first place? Which brings me to the next point...

      That said, if one's own group is disadvantaged, then supporting that group's interests may be completely in line with supporting what is good for the nation.

      Depends on which group, and what interests. For example, does more affirmative action for blacks and Hispanics on college campuses really benefit the country as a whole? Does having a more "diverse" workforce make it a more effective one? I think you already know my answer to the latter question.

      Is supporting the interests of white people for the betterment of the nation? I don't really think so

      Well, again, it depends on what interests.

      Take the state of California, for example. During the early 90s, mostly white voters passed prop. 187, which sought to deny illegal immigrants from using various services. It was promptly struck down by the courts as unconstitutional.

      Even though the stated reasons for the prop. were economic, I think that whites were voting for their racial interests, and reacting to the increasing Hispanization of the state.

      Has the growing Hispanization of California been a good thing? Well, when you look at California's growing problems with public education, for starters, I would say the answer is a resounding no.

      So at least in that case, white self-interest would have been better for the state as a whole. Just as white self-interest in Europe is better for those countries' national interests, as I think we can all agree that the presence of groups such as Pakistanis in Britain has for the most part been a disaster.

      It depends on the specific interests. Since I mentioned Britain, the white, non-liberal self-interest of not being so indulgent/giving so much space to Pakistanis would be good for the country. Putting an end to all those barbaric cousin marriages, for instance.

      I don't really think so. I don't think that applies to say, Jews, either.

      Indeed. If anything, much of their organized community's interests (such as say, lobbying heavy for Israel, despite the fact that support for Israel goes against U.S interests) is bad for the country.

      However, that sure as hell doesn't stop them from lobbying.

      And at the end of the day, white people are going to take note. They're going to see blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Jews, and various other groups unapologetically fighting for their interests, and some are going to wonder why they don't do the same.

      Yes, I know, racism 101, prejudice plus power, whites are already the dominant group, blah blah blah.

      However, considering the changing demographics and their soon to be minority status, whites do have a reason to organize as a group.

      Besides, when other groups are blatantly fighting for their interest, and whites aren't, it simply comes across as unilateral disarmament, which is never a wise move, any which way you cut it.

    3. Oh, and one more thing.

      Even though you are reasonable and nuanced in your thinking, certainly a lot more than the average leftist, I couldn't help but notice that you mentioned that tribal interests should be tempered in favor of national interests.

      I mean, isn't the left frequently admonishing white people about displays of patriotism? Doesn't patriotism lead to chauvinism, and aren't we all citizens of the world anyway?

      And yet, when it comes to making a case for non-white racial activism, then suddenly patriotic national interest becomes paramount.

      I've seen this kind of rhetoric from other anti-racists as well.

      I just find it interesting.

    4. I forgot to mention that as well as national interests, principles and responsibilities of how to treat one's fellow man should also be taken into account, regardless of nationality. Of course, how one defines those principles is a whole nother topic of discussion.

      To the main point, I think it is definitely in the interest of the US as a whole, and probably also of whites, to ensure that blacks are better integrated and feel included in the mainstream. The high black crime rate has numerous causes, but one of them is the feeling of not being included in mainstream society. Now we could argue about why that is and whose fault it is, but I'm sure we'd agree that there are a lot of black people who feel so alienated from white society that it is leading them down the wrong path. Their energies could be better channelled.

      Likewise with Hispanics. The rate and nature of Hispanic immigration is a problematic issue, but at least for the ones who are already in the US, they need to be included in society.

      I don't necessarily think that excessive pandering to minorities, as is sometimes done by the Left, is the way forward. Some aspects of anti-racist thought actually nurture grudges and make POCs think whites are even worse; that won't help to have a cohesive society. But minority needs must still be accounted for, and if US society still maintains a great deal of white privilege, it will lead to greater social dysfunction and resentment.

    5. But minority needs must still be accounted for

      Even I'm willing to accept that. However, to what extent? As someone who follows issues of racial politics and the "achievement gap" in education between blacks/Hispanics and whites, I've seen how this obsession with "equity" has done its part to harm public education.

      As a result, teachers are under attack from both sides of the ideological spectrum. From Republicans who want to undermine public education and privatize education (just like they want to do with everything else), to liberal Democrats who obsess on "equity" and insist that white teachers are not "culturally competent" enough or doing enough for black and brown kids.

      In fact, I recall reading an article about how there was a proposal to have science labs and advanced science classes at Berkeley High School shut down because not enough black and brown kids were in these classes.

      At least in that instance, promoting minorities has been at the expense of society as a whole.

      So again, I guess the question is to what extent?

      (now, how much of that has to do with the teachers and how much of it has to do with the values or circumstances of the black/brown kids is another topic of debate, which we can explore at another time)

      US society still maintains a great deal of white privilege

      Ah, you lost me with the term "white privilege." I may not be typical of your average white, but I can safely say that using that kind of "privilege" rhetoric in the left wing social justice sense won't get your movement very far. For starters, most everyday people (white and non-white) don't think of "privilege" in that sense. They mainly link it to socioeconomic status. In fact, throughout my many years in the atypically liberal S.F. Bay Area, interacting with whites and non-whites alike, I have not ONCE heard "privilege" used in that sense. At least not outside of any university setting.

      And even if you do get them to understand what that kind of "privilege" means, they're only going to get defensive. Or, as Ta-Nehisi Coates once said, they're likely going to tune out. And who can really blame them?

      No one likes being told that they're "privileged" or that they have it unjustly easy. They're certainly not going to take it well coming from hostile outsiders.

      (and having read enough anti-racist blogs, I think it's safe to say that the overwhelming majority of anti-racists are hostile towards whites as a whole)

      it will lead to greater social dysfunction and resentment.

      Meh, simply having a multiracial society is going to lead to dysfunction and resentment. Everyone feels victimized and has an axe to grind in the Anglosphere nowadays.

      Also, if there's one thing I've learned about "social justice" and "equality" types, it's that nothing is ever really good enough for them. As a wise professor of mine once said, "groups don't really want equality, but special privileges of their own."

      To take a brief break from race, just look at certain Anglosphere feminists. Even though you would be hard pressed to find a better place to be a woman than in the West, you have various radical feminists insisting that the West is saturated with sexism, "rape culture," etc. To hear them tell it, sometimes you can't tell whether they're describing the West or Egypt.

      People who want to nurture feelings of resentment and victimization will find a way to do so.

      I think the real solution is for both sides to stop promoting identity politics, whether it's the left and non-whites, or the right and its subtle (or not so subtle, in the cases of various European right wing parties) appeals to white nationalism.

      However, as long as non-whites continue to be tribal/promote identity politics, I will follow suit, and I'm not alone.

    6. Now, I'm sure you'll say that the real solution are measures designed to ensure equality. However, as long as there's the level of distrust and resentment that there currently is, such measures will be doomed to failure.

      Prerequisites for the kind of cohesive society you describe are trust, cooperation, and a sense of common good.

      It's hard enough to achieve that in a multiracial society as it is.

      (there's a reason why the strongest welfare states in the West are in relatively homogenous Scandinavian countries, and not places like the U.S.)

      No equality measures are ever going to take off as long as feelings of balkanization remain.

    7. I'm too busy right now to properly address all your points. But here's what I mean by white privilege, and I think you'd probably agree with me:
      In the US, if you are born white, your potential life outcomes are significantly better than if you are born black or Hispanic. That is entirely separate from genetic factors. A white person has a better chance of a better average income and education level. This is not directly due to racism in the most part, but it is a legacy of past inequalities, particularly in the case of blacks.

      Re: the feminist example, I agree that a lot of current feminist discourse is somewhat out of touch with reality, and Western treatment of women is relatively good... but Here's not really the place to discuss it, but mainstream male identity and culture has numerous aspects to it that inadvertently encourage rape, even though at the same time it holds that rape is abhorrent.

    8. ES, I know what "white privilege" means. I've read enough anti-racist blogs for that.

      I understand the term, I just don't accept this notion of "privilege." Same thing applies for "male privilege," "straight privilege," and even "cisgender privilege."

      I hope that clarifies things a bit.

    9. Oh, and just so you know, I wasn't trying to derail the thread with my feminist example. The point I was trying to make is that ALL groups who harbor grievances and feel oppressed will find ways to justify such feelings.

    10. Whether you accept that "privilege" exists or not doesn't mean it doesn't exist. I certainly think it can be overstated. But male privilege is an obvious one, to my mind. As a male, I have never for one second had to worry about the threat of rape, or had to modify my behaviour because of that threat. Straight privilege is also pretty obvious, I think. Privilege based on racial grounds is less pronounced, but I don't think it has completely disappeared.

    11. Well, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree regarding what constitutes "privilege."

  2. I think by watching the racial make-up of Republic National Convention attendees vs. the Democratic National Convention attendees, we can see why any PoC would vote for Obama, rather than Romney!