The Corner

A P.S. on Race

The secret ballot is a wonderful thing: You pull the curtain behind you, and you pull the lever – and you don’t have to tell anyone whom you voted for; and you don’t have to say why you voted as you did. This also means: We sometimes have to peer into minds.


I believe that anti-Mormon prejudice most likely deprived Mitt Romney of the Republican nomination. It can’t be proved – although some exit polling is suggestive. But there can be informed speculation. Will racism keep Obama from the presidency?


Again, we speculate, but I don’t believe it. I think that many Americans hunger and thirst for a black president, and that most Americans would welcome one. I think conservative Republicans would leap to pull the lever for a conservative-Republican black nominee. There is not one available this year.


Why will you vote against Obama? Why will you vote for him? I’ll vote against him – because I’m anti-abortion. Because I’m a low-tax man, and a light-regulation man. An anti-collectivist. Because I support a robust War on Terror, and clear victory in Iraq. Because I’m against race preferences, for SDI, against teacher-union monopoly, etc.


In short, I’m a Reaganite, not an Obama-ite or a McGovernite.


How about people who agree with Obama on all the issues? Will they vote against him because of the color of his skin? I doubt it, not in significant numbers. I think he’ll pick up some votes because of race; I think he’ll lose some votes because of race. How this will all shake down is a mystery. Moreover, I don’t think we’ll be able to say much with confidence even after the fact.


At the Republican convention, the speakers – especially McCain – will have to deal with this question of race; say how majestic it will be when a black American is finally elected to the presidency. (“But let him be one of us!” the Republicans must say, or imply.) Similarly, Democrats this week should deal with McCain’s extreme war heroism – they can’t just let it go unremarked.


Ideally, we are all Americans, or, better than that, all human beings, all children of God. Pigmentation is an irrelevancy. But life is not always lived ideally, needless to say. And obviously a great many black Americans will be disappointed if Obama loses, considering such an eventuality some kind of broader rejection. As I and others have said for months, this is a very, very sticky year.


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