Six Conservative Guys
Six Conservative Guys - Proudly Serving the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy Since 2003
We'll gladly reply to or publish your response. E-mail Six Conservative Guys
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Can a Black Democrat be Elected President?
In a word, yes. But the crisis that Obama is dealing with illustrates the problem that black politicians face in America.
Because of the concentration of African-Americans in cities and the push for majority-minority districts in the last two decades, the vast majority of African American candidates represent districts that are primarily - and in many cases, overwhelmingly - black. Because these districts are a lock for the Democratic party and the constituencies are overwhelmingly liberal, the African-American politicians who represent these areas are pushed in one direction - to the left. This protects them from primary opposition.
The case of Rep. Al Wynn (D - Maryland) is an example of the exception that proves the rule. Wynn was a solid Democrat and a liberal, but another candidate backed by Kos and MoveOn successfully defeated him in the primary after arguing that he was too willing to work with Bush and the Republicans.
This process virtually requires African-American politicians to adopt positions (and embrace community "leaders") that are way to the left of most Americans. It is therefore hard for African-American politicians to build records (and associations) that enable them to be viable candidates for the US Senate, or, ultimately, the Presidency.
I also suspect that the lack of electoral competition in these districts makes the candidates much more vulnerable to corruption. Corrupt politics has long been a part of city politics -- and not just for black politicians -- but this corruption and bad behavior is held in check (at least partly) by electoral competition. In a competitive electoral environment, politicians work harder to avoid even the appearance of corruption which can cost them in an election. In an electoral environment where far-left views matter most -- and corruption of the highest order is often ignored (e.g. Marion Berry) -- there is little disincentive to put your hand in the cookie jar. Hopefully, I am being clear here: this is an institutional argument: institutions structure behavior and non-competitive electoral environments, black or white, are simply more prone to corruption (example: Louisiana).
Obama was viewed as an exception to these limiting factors because he was able to move so quickly through the ranks that he didn't have to carry the far-left baggage or the stain of corruption. The Rezco scandal and the case of Rev. Wright (and his reluctance to take on "Minister" Farrakhan) has put this baggage right back on his doorstep.
For a while, I thought that Hillary was easier to beat, but that's partly because she's had to fight Obama on extremely unfavorable ground (the Democratic primary electorate). Hillary has been unable to talk about how liberal Obama's positions are, she's been unable to take on his embrace of a hate-monger like Wright because African Americans are a huge voting block. She's been unable to hit Obama on Chicago-style corruption. The only thing that she has been able to draw blood on is the issue of experience, and her advantages there are pretty weak. Given that Hillary will appeal to half of the electorate as a woman, and Obama will appeal to constituencies that are unlikely to vote Republican anyway, I'd rather take my chances with Obama.
Democrats may worry that a Hillary win relying on superdelegates will split the party and alienate blacks. I think that's possible, but I also think that she can head that off by naming Harold Ford, Jr. of Tennessee as her running mate. Black Americans will still come out to vote for Ford. Frankly, I think Ford will actually look good compared with Obama in terms of his experience and grasp of policy details.
That said, Obama is likely to still be the Democratic nominee - which I think is good news now. Given the state of the Republican party, he has a good chance of winning in November. There is no doubt, however, that this will be a contest.
Comments: Post a Comment