Thursday, October 20, 2011

Should blacks vote for Obama because he's black?

Should blacks vote for Obama - and withhold criticism of him - simply because he's black?

That's what at least two prominent blacks have suggested. Syndicated radio host Tom Joyner has been blunt and unapologetic about his feelings, telling his 8 million listeners "Stick together, black people."

Radio host Al Sharpton agrees. He's told his nightly TV audience on MSNBC that he criticized David Dinkins, New York's first black mayor, then regretted it when Dinkins lost a reelection bid to Rudy Guliani.

"I said I'll never make that mistake again," Sharpton said.

The expected onslaught of disagreement has followed. Washington Post Kathleen Parker, in today's Observer Viewpoint section, says rightfully that voting for Obama simply because he's black does a disservice to the voters and our country.

Nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas agrees, saying such a vote would be racist.

Thomas suggests that Joyner and Sharpton are really concerned about blacks losing a seat at the political table, and he's correct. But similar motivations are what prompt conservatives to support the "R" on the ballot - and Democrats the "D" - no matter how much they have to hold their noses to do it. We all, to some degree, vote defensively - pulling the lever for the candidate potentially will do the least damage to the things we hold important.

But Joyner implicitly demands - and Sharpton less implicitly - that blacks hold their tongues instead of criticizing Obama. That kind of loyalty mandate is dangerous and counterproductive, because it silences the suffering and stills the voices that candidates need to hear, Democrat or Republican.

Peter St. Onge


Rob said...


A Black Man said...

Do you really believe that a majority of blacks will vote for Obama because he is black? I don't. While there are some blacks that vote for Obama because he is black, a majority of blacks will vote for him because he is not a Republican. Many won't criticize him because they are uninformed citizens who don't fully comprehend the negative aspects of his administration's policies. When looking at the Republican front-runners, you see a crazy "B" in Bachmann, an out of touch guy who is very similar to Obama in Romney, another black guy (who nobody in the black community is up in arms for)who happens to be wrong a lot in Cain, and a guy who is right a lot but is ignored by the media in Ron Paul. The issues are only a second fiddle to the celebrity factor in becoming a president.

Do you think myself, and educated black man, would let a talk show host (Joyner), or a walking circus (Sharpton) influence my vote? Joyner doesn't seem to know or care enough about government policies because he does have a decent financial windfall to fall back on. Sharpton says and does anything for attention.

I'm voting for Paul or 3rd party. If the situation falls between Obama and Bachmann/Cain/Romney, then I'm staying home. The Democrat party is filled with a bunch of snakes while the Republican party openly wants to kill any class below the rich. Pick your poison.... either way, it will kill your future.

kantstanzya said...

Just as Kathlene Parker says in this morning's op ed everyone is all of a sudden surprised? This has been going on for years. I think the main issue is that blacks have been brainwashed (Herman Cain's term) by the Democrats to vote for them regardless of the issues or their success in solving any problems. They do this through scare tactics and equating "conservatism" with "racism".

This is of course absolutely hogwash as evidenced by the fact Herman Cain leads in the conservative GOP South Carolina poll at present. But facts will never deter the liberal race baiters.

Blacks will always support the "D" candidate with 90% of the vote. Having a black candidate like Obama improved the number to 95%. But if you are already at 90% there isn't much farther you can go anyway.

Blacks have gotten absolutely nowhere staying on the Democratic Party Plantation for 50 years. How much worse could they do trying to leverage their vote between the two parties?

David said...

This column would generate a much stronger response if you used the disqus message system that the rest of the CO uses. Is there some fundamental reason it must be run through, instead of the CO website?

Regarding the question at hand, clearly they should not. Should people have voted for Jack Kennedy just because he was good looking, full of "vim and vigor", and had a beautiful wife and children? No, but many did. Should people have voted for Ronald Reagan just because he seemed to be the living embodiment of the characters played by john Wayne? No, but many did. Should people have voted - especially the second time - for GWB just because he was a Republican? No, but many did primarily due to his party affiliation.

I think it is simply human nature to support the candidate to whom you can best relate. It may be skin color, religious affiliation, gender, or political party. Or it may be specific issues that override those types of considerations. Or it may be the perception of a political philosophy that best fits the voter.

It is the duty of all voters to keep themselves informed on the issues and the candidates. There is simply no means to enforce this duty. The only thing we can do is remind ourselves that it exists and hope for the best.

Anonymous said...

A luxurious viewpoint from two EMPLOYED commentators


First of all, when you refer to a group of people by (given) name, you should capitalize the name (as in, PROPER NOUN). If you're referring to the color, it would be proper to write "black". If that's the case, I don't know ANY black people...or white people, for that matter.
Second, why is this even a question? As a whole, did Black people vote for Jesse Jackson? Did we vote for Alan Keys? Why is this question not raised in regard to Herman Cain? Or don't you believe Black people will vote for Herman Cain just because HE'S Black?
It's obvious that there is more to Black people's assessment of a candidate than race. Even if there's an initial assumption that someone that LOOKS like them will have their best interest at heart. This is not any different from any other historically oppressed people.
A much better question is - why do poor Whites subscribe to the Republican agenda AGAINST their personal and financial interests? Why are poor Whites (who have more in common with Blacks than their rich White counterparts), consistently trumpeting the Republican talking points...without a clue as to the effects these positions could have on their well-being?

DugN34 said...

No. People should vote for an individual based upon their ideas and actions to date, that align with their economic interests. The problem in our country is that too many lazy individuals are easily swayed by the emotional rhetoric being tossed around out there. The side doing it the most is hoping that the public won't catch on that the candidate doesn't have an idea or plan to solve the problem. Obama isn't perfect, none of us are BUT he's got the right ideas and plans, doing what is right for the right reasons for everyone, not just a select few. When the poor and middle class is successful, everyone is.

ktown8 said...

Why isn't there more pressure from the media and others to condemn Sharpton and Joyner for their racist views and comments. If they were white and making these and other types of racial comments, the media and black would call for a boycott of their shows and demand the media to remove them immediately. Please, someone explain why there are no double standards. I'm sick of the race card being played constantly. But hey, I'm racist b/c I'm a white Republican who will be voting for Cain. It's just crazy how Liberals have convinced most blacks that they have to be Democrats and that conservatives are racists. It's just sad that people don't open up, ask more questions, and make decisions for themselves.

ktown8 said...

........and to vote for someone solely by the color of their skin is in fact Racists. How anyone can even dispute that is ridiculous. But I guess Blacks can't be racist, right? Sike........if anything, Blacks are more racist these days than Whites. But hey, let's downplay any racism coming from Blacks and sweep it under the rug.

Kent said...

So let's see...if I get on the air and say "Let's stick together white people", that's racist. Yet Tom Joyner and Al Sharpton can do the same thing, substituting the word "black", and no one bats an eye.

Just making sure I understand the rules.

tarhoosier said...

Black people, or any people, may vote for anyone for any reason or no reason.
Encouraging people to vote purely on the basis of skin color is perpetuating lazy thinking; no, just no thinking at all. Using the most superficial reason possible is a step backward for everyone. It is shameful for these men, or anyone to justify or support abstention from thinking while voting.

One Discerner said...

Why not, White people have a long history of doing exactly what you are asking about Mr. Obama. Why do you think it's so hard for Black people to advance through GOP primaries? To echo what two other persons said, Black people vote for who is perceived to best promote their interests. For me, that's definitely not a yes vote for Herman Cain or any Clarence Thomas clone.
And as for Tom Joyner not being informed about the issues of today, nothing could be farther from the truth. His voice is there to counter Cornel West and Tavis Smiley who are mad because the President didn't kiss their rings. Sort of like White candidates are required to do of Limbaugh.

One Discerner said...

Why not, White people have a long history of doing exactly what you are asking about Mr. Obama. Why do you think it's so hard for Black people to advance through GOP primaries? To echo what two other persons said, Black people vote for who is perceived to best promote their interests. For me, that's definitely not a yes vote for Herman Cain or any Clarence Thomas clone.
And as for Tom Joyner not being informed about the issues of today, nothing could be farther from the truth. His voice is there to counter Cornel West and Tavis Smiley who are mad because the President didn't kiss their rings. Sort of like White candidates are required to do of Limbaugh.

Double Deac said...

Bravo to Kellyatwork! I agree 100%. For years, Republicans have attacked Black Democratic voters as either "brainwashed" or simply not smart enough to know better. With President Obama, they now argue that he gets Black votes because he is Black; yet when Republicans run Black candidates, Black voters still overwhemingly vote for Democrats. Could it be that Black voters are not voting on skin color, or even party affliation, but have considered the platforms of the two parties and determined that the Democratic party better represents their interests?

It is simply offensive to accuse Black Americans of being ignorant because they support Democrats. Why don't we say that Mormons are brainwashed for voting Republican, or question the intelligence of less-educated, poorer Caucasians who overwhelmingly vote against their own economic and social self-interest by voting Republican?

The idea that Republicans think that they can "school" Black Americans on how to vote is patronizing at best and racist at worst. We hardly ever question the motivations or intelligence of other voting demographics--why then do we it every election cycle with Black Americans?

Witness2Confusion said...

Well said Kelly and Double Deac!!

In the interest of "fair and balanced reporting" I'm looking forward to the Observer Editorial staff's analysis of why rural and poor whits identify and align themselves overwhelmingly with the Republican Party to their own detriment....

Can't wait, this ought to be interesting Pete.


The problem you guys are having is with the word "racist". Racist infers a hatred of someone because of their race. The reason the term has gotten so "cloudy" is because nowadays people do racist acts but hide behind seemingly benign reasons. Ask your resident Black person for TONS of everyday examples.
So, the word is overused/misused.
If a White person wants to vote for a candidate because he's White and/or a White person wants to get on the radio and say "all White people need to stick together" then that action (alone) is not necessarily racists. One would have to "know" the reasons behind the actions. And let's face it, based on the White man's history, I don't think White people should be offended if the Black people strongly suspect that the underlying reasons are because you don't like our race. Therefore, I (like many others) would assume racism! But, I can be talked out of it. Is there any other plausible reason? Heck, why did those boys in Mississippi drag that Black man to death behind their pickup? Was it racists? Hmmmm. Maybe it was an accident; but, I'll trust my instincts on that one too.
So, do you REALLY believe Al Sharpton and Tom Joyner made whatever comments you're referring to, because they hate White people...or, they are interested in advancing the causes that may increase the plight of a downtrodden people?

COUPLE MORE THINGS - People CAN hate their OWN race.
It's possible for individuals to do a racist thing but not be a racist. It's like be hungry because you haven't eaten today and being HUNGRY because you don't ever eat regularly (as in, third-world country hungry).


Larry said...

All I do know is that this was the Summer of Obama

Anonymous said...

In general, blacks will vote for Obama because he is black and liberal. They will not vote for a conservative who is black because they believe the Republicans' number one objective is to get them off welfare. If only it were so.

Anonymous said...

My roommate voted for Obama only because he is black. My roommate is White-American if that makes any difference.

He just wanted to get it over with. And hes ready to vote for a woman for the same reason.

Ignorance is bliss.