2008 Presidential Election, Race and Racism
Professor Vernellia Randall
Speaking Truth to Power!

A Husband-Wife Debate: Obama v Hillary


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Michael Laser
Posted on January 29, 2008, Printed on January 29, 2008

My wife and I keep having the same argument. It's not exactly a sophisticated debate, but I have a feeling other people are covering similar ground.

Me: Maybe he can win after all. He's likable, and smart and good-looking. And he didn't blow his cool when she attacked him in South Carolina.

Her: You don't have any idea what people in the rest of the country are like. Nobody in this liberal suburb does. Americans won't elect a black man -- not yet -- no matter what they tell pollsters.

Me: I know there's a certain percentage of people who wouldn't vote for a black candidate if you tied them up and held boiling oil over their heads -- but I don't think the percentage is high enough to guarantee he'd lose.

Her: I think it is. I think the other side is praying he's the candidate. They may even be working behind the scenes to get him nominated, by attacking her and leaving him alone -- because they assume they could beat him with one hand tied behind their backs.

Me: What about all those college kids who are so excited, so optimistic? Maybe this time their audacious hopes will be rewarded.

Her: If he's the candidate, they're in for an eye-opening experience. (Unspoken: Just like we had in 1972, and 2000 and 2004. Not to mention 1980, and 1984 and 1988. Poor kids.)

Me: I don't buy your argument. Charisma wins votes -- and that could overcome the racism factor.

Her: So you're going to vote for him?

Me: I don't know. He's not really as progressive as I'd like. And I worry that he's too nice to survive the last-minute dirty tricks.

Her: What about her?

Me: Sure, I'd love to see a woman elected -- and she's so smart -- and she's learned so much about how to play the game. I think she could actually survive the dirty tricks.

Her: There's a "but" coming.

Me: But the percentage of people who hate her may be bigger than the percentage of people who wouldn't vote for a black person.

Her: I disagree.

Me: Well, we could go back and forth forever on that one.

Her: She could get a lot done. She knows how.

Me: I think so too. But she's really kind of conservative. And I worry about her outmachoing the hawks, in Iran and other unforeseen places.

Her: What about Edwards? Remember when we kept asking our friends who they were going to vote for, and they all said, "Well, I really like Edwards, but ..."

Me: I don't know why he's not doing better.

Her: Er ... money might have something to do with it.

Me: And he was talking kind of angry out there for a while. It didn't sound good.

Her: And he lost last time, sort of. There's a taint.

Me: Maybe his biggest problem is that Democrats won't allow themselves to make him their candidate, when a black man and a woman are running. It would seem racist and misogynistic. Or, at least, insufficiently progressive. It would look bad. Even though he wouldn't have any of the negatives -- no accusations of dynasty or inexperience. And he has a Southern accent. That alone could win the White House.

Her: So who are you going to vote for?

Me: I don't know. Who are you going to vote for?

Her: I don't know.

Me: I don't even know how to decide. Do you go for the one you agree with the most, or the one with the best chance to win in November?

Her: Are you kidding? The one who can win!

Me: And that would be ...

Her: I don't know.

Me: Me neither. But the truth is, at this point, any one of the three would be a dream come true -- like a cool bubbling spring after eight years in the desert.

Her: That's a mirage you're seeing. If one of them gets elected, you'll be annoyed at half the things he or she does.

Me: I would be so happy to be annoyed!

Her: Ah, well, maybe the decision will be clearer by the time our primary comes.

Me: We said that a month ago.

Her: True. Well, it's not as if our votes will decide what happens in the end.

Me: Right. Except -- it sort of is.

Michael Laser, a novelist, is the author of Dark & Light: A Love Story and the forthcoming young adult novel Cheater.

© 2008 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/75249/

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