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February 12, 2008

Comments

"The caucus is where things get hairy."

It's actually just bog-standard caucus rules, familiar to anyone who has ever attended a caucus in any state with caucuses.

If this is true, then I'll have to readjust my Gary-based positive view of caucuses.

You are describing something roughy similar ( I think) to what republicans do in Washington. They choose by a mixture of caucus and primary. Washington Democrats choose through a three tier system of caucuses. Your very own wonkie is a delegate! I gave a knockout speech at my caucus and won popular aclaim. Seriouusly. i am a vdery good public speaker. A lousy typist, but a good speaker.

And gary your response to my quacker typo ws hilariouus! Thank you for being so patient with me.

I hope that Obama does resonably well in Texas. I hope he does well in Wisconsinn too which is by no means a certainty. Hillary is up by ten points there which means she is probably really up by five or six. By the media covers the races as win/lose and it's the "wins" inn the media that build momentum.

This is a digression but here goes: my brother who lives in a red part of Wisconsin says that Hillary-hate is viral there. it really is a mistake for Democrats to underestimate the power of hillary-hate to energize the R base. Hillary-hating is really the ony unifying theme left for thhe R party. Besides Republicans HAVE to keep on hating her for their own self-esteem. Bullies always blame their target--that's how they justify themselves. To sit home and let her get elected is to repudiate their own behavior for thelast decade or more. And all of the Repubicans are complicit inthe hating. They eitherr were actively involvrd in the demonizing or they aquiesed in the deomizing because itt was useful. i am thinking of people like Charles or James Joyner who like to thinnk of themselves as being so moderate and civil but who made excuses ffor thhe excesses of the likes of Rush annd Coulter. The only thing the R party has left is "At least our guy isn't as bad as her." Obama doesn't carry that baggage. It isn't Hillary's fault that hating her is so importannt to thhe righhtwing. But it is a significant factor in the dynamics of this election.

Yes,KC in DC, that is true. That's why caucuses are harder than just voting and why caucuses favor the party structure. Caucus training is vey important. Otherwise one is at the mercy of the local party to play fair.

Hey, what can you say? Sometimes you gotta abandon all hope.

"If this is true, then I'll have to readjust my Gary-based positive view of caucuses."

They have their pros and cons, of course, but I do like the pros. As for the cited description, well, politics requires some seriousness, and in caucuses that requires bothering to stay for more than five minutes if you care to do more than the absolute minimum. It's a shame that the Obama supporters in this case were so uninterested in doing anything beyond that.

But I don't think a system that rewards involvement is a bad one. Opinions can legitimately vary on this, but that's mine.

As for "As one goes up the ladder party functionaries play an increasingly prominent role," there's nothing whatever given about anything of the sort; it's simply a matter of continuing to make the same kind of effort at each level of successive voting. Again, if Obama supporters care to see it through, they'll win. If they don't, they'll lose. I'm fine with that. It's entirely democratic. Complaints about systems that devolve to the complaint that, essentially, the complainer is lazy and doesn't want to bother so much leave me less sympathetic than I am capable of being, I'm afraid.

I posted about Texas around 5:40 p.m. yesterday, incidentally.

Hey, wonkie, fellow delegate! I gave a speech at my caucus too -- and brought over every single undecided to Obama on the second ballot.

I learned last week that CaseyL is also a Washingtonian -- Casey, did you get to be a delegate too? All the cool people are being delegates this year, you know.

:)

Wonkie, if you're in King or Snohomish, wanna meet up before the district caucus? CaseyL, I know your caucus location was just a few miles from my house. Same question.

"This is a digression but here goes: my brother who lives in a red part of Wisconsin says that Hillary-hate is viral there."

It's worth remembering where Joe McCarthy was elected from.

"Caucus training is vey important. Otherwise one is at the mercy of the local party to play fair."

I guess. I never had any, though, and I never had a problem. Anyone who has the faintest experience with any sort of Roberts Rules of Order (of which none whatever was seen at my Super-Duper Tuesday caucus, I regret to say) meeting should find it a pretty simple experience, although it's certainly true that that leaves plenty of people out.

And, sure, it's more confusing and complicated than voting in a primary. But it's far more rewarding to those, and for the cause of those, who make the effort. I'll make that trade-off any day, myself.

Idon't thinkit is a matter of the Obama (or other neophyte) being lacking in comitment. At the county level thedelegates will bewinnowed down. people who are wellknown party activista have the advantage in getting eledcged to the next level. That means the caucus delegates who go to the county evel have to make sure that whoever goes to the next level up actually represents their preferred candidate. By the time it gets to state the ordinary off the street folks will be pretty well weeded out and replaced by people who have a history of party activism. It takes a cerrtain amount of political savvy to make sure that weeding out process doesn't weed out all the insurgent supporters. One has to assertively monitor the people who put themselves forward to be delegates at the next level up. A great deal of integrity is required for the process to be democratic. Sometimes people don't have that integrity.

I likethe talkinng and discussing aspect of caucuses. it is fun to get together with other people and engage in politics. However it is a system that is easily gamed bythe unscrupulous.

Hi fellow Washington delegates! Maybe we will make to stae and meet there. I live in mason county so I'm kind of far from you but if you are ever over by Shelton, by all means let me know.

Go ObWi delegates! We are proud. :)

BTW I don't have any worries about the Washington party. My memories of the party gaming the system date back to Iowa a long time ago. My guess is that the degree of integrity depends on the players and varies from place to place.

"My guess is that the degree of integrity depends on the players and varies from place to place."

I don't think there's any other possibility, actually.

If there's a brokered convention, ObWi gets a seat at the table! Kewl.

Hi trilobite & Wonkie. I'm a veteran of 7 WA presidential caucuses but only once was a delegate.

The caucus system here is what the party wants because it helps them get contributions & volunteers. Also it prevents an insurgent candidate from winning by flooding a small fraction of precincts. The 147 who attended my precinct didn't get any more delegates for their historic numbers. If 14 had attended the results would have been the same. (Here are photos from my caucus site, with the crowd from about 8 precincts.)

I wonder if the resistance of caucuses to the Clinton campaign reflects that they are getting many supporters, but not reaching all of the precincts like Obama. (He won every single county in Washington. The one reported as going for Clinton had accidentally switched the numbers in their initial report.)

Another concern with caucuses is that the higher-level selections can be influenced by the party leadership to change the result. Choosing delegates who will remain committed to their candidate can minimize this.)

[[My favorite place to look for primary process details in the Green Pages, such as the Texas process description here. I like the CQ compilation that Gary pointed to,but Green Papers has the most detail I have seen, presented clearly.]]

"If there's a brokered convention, ObWi gets a seat at the table! Kewl."

LJ, all any of us are so far are precinct delegates (or alternates) to county conventions. Which then elect delegates to State conventions. Which then elect delegates to the national convention in Denver.

The odds of anyone here who has already commented about being a delegate being elected as a national delegate are very low.

Thanks gary, but I meant it more as a humorous aside, though it's obviously a bad joke if you have to explain it.

I encourage everyone to read this analysis of the Texas primary that John posted yesterday. I guarantee that after about two pages you'll just throw up your hands in frustration and say "whatever, I'll just wait for the votes," because it's pretty much the most apocryphal election process you could possibly imagine, and it's likely not worth the effort. Just go with publius' Rube Goldberg metaphor and be done with it.

They have their pros and cons, of course, but I do like the pros. As for the cited description, well, politics requires some seriousness, and in caucuses that requires bothering to stay for more than five minutes if you care to do more than the absolute minimum. It's a shame that the Obama supporters in this case were so uninterested in doing anything beyond that.

This may be true. However, at my Minnesota caucus site, the people in charge were encouraging people to fill out their presidential preference ballot and leave. I even asked one of them if that was the important step, and he said, "Yes."

In part, this happened because our precinct caucus drew about three times as many people as could possibly have fit into the room where it was held. The type of caucus you advocate simply could not have occurred.

But I don't think a system that rewards involvement is a bad one.

I don't have a problem with rewarding involvement (though it does penalize people who are unable to be involved because of jobs, disability, or other reason), but I don't see how a system that sends Clinton delegates to the next level when the turnout is overwhelmingly for Obama can be described as democratic. I guess we won't know how common such shenanigans are until the caucus states choose their convention delegates and we see how they vote. It certainly adds a new level of anxiety.

"Like Virgil before me, I will guide you through the Inferno that is the Texas Democratic primary."

I've got my own dark wood to deal with, but if you guys stumble upon the soul of Bob McManus, tell him that if he can stand even more torment to come back here and comment again.

Was that him howling?

@wonkie,

You are describing something roughy similar ( I think) to what republicans do in Washington.

Perhaps. But I missed the part where the Texas Democrats stop the caucus before all the votes are counted and award it to whomever state party officials wanted to win in the first place.

"Was that him howling?" ...JT

Of course I'm howling, as a Texan I am apparently going to have to wrestle with Rube Goldberg.

I guarantee that after about two pages you'll just throw up your hands in frustration

I haven't had lunch yet, and I usually prefer the tenderer viscera to the gristly appendages.

This has to be the strangest electoral process ever. No surprise it's in Texas. I don't really miss living in Texas, but I do miss the bizarre politics. Especially the Cloak Room in Austin, which is the only bar in which I've done tequila shots with my state representative. There's really nothing quite like Texas politics.

This has to be the strangest electoral process ever. No surprise it's in Texas. I don't really miss living in Texas, but I do miss the bizarre politics. Especially the Cloak Room in Austin, which is the only bar in which I've done tequila shots with my state representative. There's really nothing quite like Texas politics.

My little sister, who's never been excited about a campaign before, sent an email out to the family saying, "This is going to be great! The one year my vote matters, and I get caucuses and primaries!" Which was kind of heartwarming.

Maybe we'll dress up as British Parliamentarians and boo and hiss and cheer while people speak.

Thanks gary, but I meant it more as a humorous aside, though it's obviously a bad joke if you have to explain it.

1] I got it.

2] Just because the odds are high, that doesn't mean they're insurmountable.

3] I would think that if a precinct delegate was willing to put in the time and effort, it would increase their odds of making it to The Show.

=========================

I like the idea of caucuses, but I think that for the vast majority of people, they work like standard elections, because most of us can take time to vote, but can't take the couple of hours (or more) that it sounds like a caucus takes.

Do caucuses tend to favor certain demographics -- those who can take more time, such the retired, or college students, or the like?

Slightly OT...but I'm surprised at the number of Washingtonians here at ObWi....

(And I was in rehearsal all Saturday....but all of theatre friends who weren't, went to caucuses and pretty much went Obama...)

Trilobite, I thought you lived in Virginia. Did you move, or am I misremembering?

What about a little bitty county like Somervell? (Yes, I'm asking that for a reason, as I have some relatives who need information about how to caucus.)

Trilobite, wonkie, other Washingtonians:

I'm an Alternate, which isn't too bad (she said, dabbing at her eyes :).

My precinct caucused along with a few dozen others at Northgate Elementary. There were 3 Obama delegates elected from my precinct (along with 2 for Clinton).

The people elected as Obama delegates were: a long-time and very passionate organizer; an independent film-maker/teacher, and another teacher who in her 1-minute speech emphasized the power of good storytelling narratives in a campaign. I'm fine with them being elected instead of me.

I'd *love* to get together with the ObWi Seattleites. If we all live in the same general area, we might be able to canvas together. My personal email is todance(AT) hotmail(DOT)com. D

I moved, KC. Good memory, I'm impressed.

CaseyL, will email you sometime this week when not hanging paper w/ one arm.

All ObWi bloggers get a discount for my next show!.

Hm. You know, that COULD be used as a fundraiser for a particular political candidate....

.... wow.

Looks like I'll be in for some fun on March 4th! I get to vote twice!

And to think, if I had stayed in Michigan, I wouldn't get to vote at all.

It's not that impressive, trilobite. We did meet at that pre-protest lunch with Hilzoy, and I didn't think you'd flown in from Washington State.

Obama wins Virginia. And it must be a big win, too, if they're calling it this early. That's a relief.

Bob McManus:

If I ever need to pull on your sleeve and have you step from behind a potted plant to let a smug person know that they don't have a clue, will you be on call?

You should be a genie.

hilzoy: "According to these exit polls, Clinton won 50% of whites; Obama won 49%. Obama won 55% of white men to Clinton's 43%; Clinton won 55% of white women to Obama's 45%."

CNN seems to overlooked publishing the black vote. Here's the AP exit pole info about it:

"Interviews with Virginia voters leaving the polls showed Obama split the white vote with Clinton, and his share of the black vote approached 90 percent."

90%? What percentage of that lopsided number do you ascribe to straight-out racism? 50%? 40%? 1%? None?

Back in the days when I was a very-young idealistic civil-rights proponent, organizing voter registration drives in New York State, raising money for Democratic causes, and risking life and limb and liberty (my own, in various jails for civil disobedience) I volunteered to work for Shirley Chisholm's campaign. She was the first African American woman to run for president. This was way back in 1972, and I was sent upstate with about a dozen other volunteers to Rochester and Syracuse and Buffalo and Albany - to knock on doors in various working-class neighborhoods where Democrats lived.

Back then, there was a lot more open hostility to black politicians, especially in the upstate 'boonies' - and doors were frequently slammed in my face, sometimes with a cascade of profanity, and occasionally with a spray of spit for emphasis. Still, the majority of people were polite, and patiently listened to my spiel, and took the campaign literature I handed out without giving me a hard time.

For those listened to my pitch I had a standard parting farewell, the same words that were on the cover sheet I handed out to them:

Vote the Candidate, Not The Color

Now, four decades later, in this primary election, Whites have apparently assimilated the message, but Blacks are ignoring it in great numbers.

Numerous Obama victories over Clinton have been decided in his favor because a significant number of Blacks voted the Color, not the Candidate. If, like most of the rest of the nation, they had voted on issues and not skin color, Clinton would be in the lead, by decent numbers now, and not neck-and-neck.

In almost all 'issue' categories surveyed by the exit-pollers, (the economy, the war in Iraq, health care) there's not much difference between Clinton and Obama. This is reflected In today's USA TODAY/Gallup Poll which shows both are almost a statistical dead heat among all non-Black voters totaled together.

Sad to say, racism is skewing the results of this primary election.

"Sad to say, racism is skewing the results of this primary election."

Yes, yes, it's terribly unfair.

It'll be terribly unfair right up through the inauguration, and probably beyond.

Meanwhile, we should all vote for the pale-skinned candidate, so as to strike a blow against racism.

So tells us the proud non-Democrat, who holds Democrats and "latte liberals" in contempt.

Jay should compare notes with Brett on racism.

Jay: CNN didn't omit the black vote; they provided pages and pages of breakdowns by all sorts of categories, and I only mentioned a few.

I can think of a lot of reasons for voting for a black candidate (partly because he's black) other than racism. Wanting to get past the point where we make a big deal of this stuff would be one reason. Wanting it to be obviously true that in America race is no bar to being President is another.

Personally, while I would not vote for any black candidate over any white candidate -- I supported Wes Clark over everyone, including Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley Braun, and that wasn't remotely a close call for me -- if I had a close call to make between a black and a white candidate, other things equal, I'd choose the black candidate, for those reasons.

At the moment, I am very happy that the first vote I ever cast for a black candidate for President was so obviously the right one, to me, that those considerations didn't need to come into it.

If, like most of the rest of the nation, they had voted on issues and not skin color, Clinton would be in the lead, [...]

In almost all 'issue' categories surveyed by the exit-pollers, [...] there's not much difference between Clinton and Obama.

If there's no difference on the issues, why should Clinton be in the lead? And in any case, if there is no difference, what are they supposed to do -- flip a coin?

Have you tried to divine the number of women voting for Clinton out of "pure sexism", because they'd like to see a woman president?

Jeff: "Do caucuses tend to favor certain demographics -- those who can take more time, such the retired, or college students, or the like?"

Yes, and because of that they're generally less representative of the voting population of a state (Nevada was a partial exception to the rule, because hourly wage voters were able to attend, on site). And because significantly smaller percentage of voters show up for caucuses (only about 10% of the registered voting pool who caucus) it's easier to distort or abridge the preferences of the people of that state.

Also problematic is the fact that numerous groups and professions are filtered out of the process. Cops, for instance, and firemen, and others who work shifts and can't take off at a particular time; also primary care-givers with children or elderly parents at home; and nurses and paramedics; and wage-workers who can't afford to lose two or three or more hours of pay.

Also excluded are those who are out of the state or country (people in the military, for example) because absentee ballots are not allowed.

Another negative is that the voting process is public -- no secret ballots, which can subject people to peer pressures of various kind (if your boss is there, raising his hand for one candidate, how reluctant will you be to raise your hand for another?)

I can think of a lot of reasons for voting for a black candidate (partly because he's black) other than racism. Wanting to get past the point where we make a big deal of this stuff would be one reason. Wanting it to be obviously true that in America race is no bar to being President is another.

Personally, while I would not vote for any black candidate over any white candidate -- I supported Wes Clark over everyone, including Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley Braun, and that wasn't remotely a close call for me -- if I had a close call to make between a black and a white candidate, other things equal, I'd choose the black candidate, for those reasons.

I note that these are very time-specific reasons. It might not hold 20 years down the line (in fact, it'd be great if that were the case).

Frankly, though, voting for someone who has a strong chance of being the first of your group to be president is a powerful draw, and it's a natural draw. And, anyway, a favorite son vote is far from unknown in politics...

Also problematic is the fact that numerous groups and professions are filtered out of the process. Cops, for instance, and firemen, and others who work shifts and can't take off at a particular time; also primary care-givers with children or elderly parents at home; and nurses and paramedics; and wage-workers who can't afford to lose two or three or more hours of pay.

Hm. Nevada.

gwangung: "I note that these are very time-specific reasons."

-- Absolutely. Like you, I look forward to the day when we pay as much attention to this as we do to, say, the candidates' eye color or right- or left-handedness, and all these reasons wither away.

I just disagree with JJ since I don't think we're there yet, and since we're not, I can see all sorts of reasons for anyone to vote for a candidate because s/he is black or female or Hispanic or Asian that aren't racist at all.

"Also excluded are those who are out of the state or country (people in the military, for example) because absentee ballots are not allowed."

For the record, having a caucus system isn't an absolute bar to also allowing absentee voting. Maine allows it. In my town there were roughly 125 people at the caucus on Sunday, plus 19 absentee ballots to include in the totals.

So how long do you think it will be before we have a viable gay candidate for president? (You can round it to be nearest century.)

P.S. In common parlance, "gay or lesbian." I usually use "gay" to mean both. I like it because it's an adjective that denotes an attribute....

Continuation of P.S.

...not a noun label for an identity.

JanieM: I'm guessing a few decades.

When do you think we'll get to the first openly transgendered (plausible) candidate?

hilzoy: "I can think of a lot of reasons for voting for a black candidate (partly because he's black) other than racism"

So can I. And so can 50% of the rest of the non-Black population, who are splitting their support between Hillary and Obama.

So why aren't Blacks voting in similar percentages? Or even at a 60/40 split in Obamas favor? Can you suggest any policy or issue differences between Obama and Hillary that can explain those distorted percentages in his favor?

P.S. In common parlance, "gay or lesbian." I usually use "gay" to mean both. I like it because it's an adjective that denotes an attribute.......not a noun label for an identity.

Bingo.

That hasn't sunk into a lot of political pundits.

So why aren't Blacks voting in similar percentages? Or even at a 60/40 split in Obamas favor? Can you suggest any policy or issue differences between Obama and Hillary that can explain those distorted percentages in his favor?

Because they see their positions as so similar that figure they may as well go to something like "first black president."

Why? You think they shouldn"t if they see them as similar?

Yikes, Hilzoy, I don't know. I think both questions depend on future trends about which I don't have a crystal ball. Things have changed so much in my lifetime it's unbelievable. But -- in my more pessimistic moments, it's not hard to imagine that something like economic calamity coupled with (probably partly triggered by) climate change will in turn trigger a reversal of some social trends, toward more a socially conservative and more authoritarian culture. We're all now hopeful and optimistic about turning around the godawfulness of the past 7 years, but we're a very long way from being out of the woods. Or so I think.

This is generally vague and overgeneralized. So to get back to your specific question: you're more optimistic than I am about the possibility of a gay candidate coming along who is qualified, in a time frame in which he/she will be taken as seriously as Obama and Clinton are being taken now. But I can see the point of the optimism if we extrapolate the trend of my lifetime into the future. The transgendered question, in turn, makes me think about percentages. I don't know if anyone has any real idea what the percentage of the population is that's gay (even if we could all agree on a definition; e.g. are self-identified bisexuals gay, or their own category? etc.), much less the % that's transgendered. What I'm trying to get at is just the likelihood of a viable presidential candidate coming out of any group that represents a very very small percentage of the population at large, much less a group that has some way to go in becoming unremarkably part of the "mainstream."

Again, sorry, this is very off the top of my head. But I'm glad to see your "a few decades." I hope you're right.

gwangung: "Frankly, though, voting for someone who has a strong chance of being the first of your group to be president is a powerful draw, and it's a natural draw. And, anyway, a favorite son vote is far from unknown in politics..."

Yes, I understand your point. And there's also a lot of people who would like to vote for a favorite daughter now too.

Elections shouldn't be decided because of racial or gender predispositions, but on the merits of the candidates, and not because of reverse racism.

JanieM: "So how long do you think it will be before we have a viable gay candidate for president?"

Are you sure we haven't already had one? Not suggesting anyone in particular but I do recall a time when the closet was a very secure place to hide one's sexual preference, even for the most public - and publicly hetero-appearing - of figures.

Having said that, I assume you mean openly gay. Stretching that far's gonna take some pretty hefty psychological calisthenics from the heartland to the Bible belt. I'm not seeing it... at all.

Are there any openly gay world leaders?

Because they see their positions as so similar that figure they may as well go to something like "first black president."

gwangung: "Why? You think they shouldn"t if they see them as similar?"

So then you don't have a problem with an Asian boss with two applications on his desk from job-seekers with similar qualifications to pick the Asian job-seeker over the black one, because he identifies with his 'own kind?'

"Elections shouldn't be decided..."

We could all sit here til doomsday listing of favorite "shoulds" connected with the variousness and vagaries of human motivation.

Good luck with that.

xanax -- yes, I meant openly.

As to openly gay world leaders? Well, not that I know of, if by world leaders you mean heads of state, heads of religious denominations, heads of armies or of powerful political movements...

Do you know of any? Leaving the closet aside here as well, of course. But then if it were a closeted gay world leader, by definition we wouldn't know.

"Are there any openly gay world leaders?"

Well there was going to be Pim Fortuyn, before he was murdered.

xanax -- Also, I would lean more toward your assessment than toward Hilzoy's relative optimism. (At least from where I sit, I call that optimism.)

But as I said above, things have changed so much in my life time (I'm almost 58), and -- as I can see and have read -- there are already big generational differences in attitudes about things like same-sex marriage, that who knows, maybe Hilzoy's right.

A year ago a lot of people I know were saying that the Democrats were screwed unless they chose Edwards, because there was no way the country would elect either a black or a woman. I know there's still plenty of racism and sexism in play, but I wonder how many people a year ago would have believed we'd be where we are now, where it seems like for an enormous number of people, it's already a non-issue.

Yeah, 'a few decades' might have been too optimistic. But I think it's a generational thing, and that it will be less time than one might think before a viable openly gay candidate comes along. I'm thinking partly of how unimaginable today's Democratic primary race would have seemed in, say, the 70s, let alone the 60s, let alone the 50s. And yet here it is.

"Yeah, 'a few decades' might have been too optimistic."

For "viable gay candidate for president"? I don't think that's at all necessarily too optimistic.

We have gay Congressional reps, and mayors.

40 years, let alone 60 years, or 80 years, all of which count as "a few decades," are an awful long time for possible social and cultural changes. I don't see it as at all unlikely that we could have a gay major party presidential candidate in even forty years. Conceivably even in thirty years.

I think at least a third of the Democratic Party would vote for Barney Frank right now, if the electibility issue were magically taken away.

Karl Rove, appearing on FOX News 2/12, commented on the Democratic primary in Texas.
He stated that delegates were apportioned by district, a la CA I presume, and allocated a number of delegates per district based on number of voters in each district.
This is important why? Because Obama should win (with the outsize percentage numbers needed to really gain a delegate edge) two big city (Dallas & Houston) districts with heavy black voter concentrations.
What I think he was implying is that if Hillary generally wins Texas at a 58% to 42% clip but Obama wins the large city vote 70% to 30%, BO's likely to blunt the delegate result of such a Clinton win and he could end up with the most delegates.

Remember that Clinton and Obama were splitting the vote 60/40 until the dust-up around the SC primary. I think it would be as accurate to say that Clinton lost the African-American vote. Whether or not one thinks it was intentional, I was in SC campaigning at the time and I can tell you that large swathes of African-Americans there and in GA were not decided, but came out of that week determined to never vote for a Clinton.

So then you don't have a problem with an Asian boss with two applications on his desk from job-seekers with similar qualifications to pick the Asian job-seeker over the black one, because he identifies with his 'own kind?'

Are we stipulating that this is a very prestigious job, one which has been frequently held by non-Asians, but never by an Asian? Otherwise your analogy really doesn't hold. Blacks aren't voting for Obama because they're more comfortable with their own kind, but because it's a hugely symbolic opportunity.

Well, you know...breaking the glass ceiling is racism or sexism...

I don't know about the US, but in the UK I could imagine a viable gay candidate for Prime Minister now. The UK has already had an (ethnically) Jewish PM and has recently had leaders of the two main parties who were atheist (Neil Kinnock) and Jewish (Michael Howard). (That they lost in both cases was probably not due specifically to these factors, but mainly to other aspects of their personalities/campaigns). The 'right sort' of gay man (not I think, yet a lesbian) could get to be PM.

By 'right sort', I mean a gay politician who would not frighten Middle England (such as the ex-Cabinet minister Chris Smith): not a prominent gay rights activist, in a long-term partnership and 'straight' acting. In the same way that Obama can be seen as a 'safe' or 'post-racist' choice, a black man who doesn't upset most whites, a gay man of that sort would, I think, be acceptable to the vast majority of the UK electorate.

I thhink that misogynism is a more poerful force in our society righht now than racism. Misogyny is more respectable, more accepted. Racism is low class, bad taste, not cool, bordering on sinful.

A CNN article I read a couple days ago but can't link to because I don't know where I read it included polling info in the preferences of white males independents. They asked the guys who they preferrec in a head to heads between Obama dn McCain and Hillary annd McCina. The results were that more inndependents defected to McCAin if Hillary was ouur candidate than if Obama was.

FWIW

I thhink that misogynism is a more poerful force in our society righht now than racism. Misogyny is more respectable, more accepted. Racism is low class, bad taste, not cool, bordering on sinful.

Well, xcept maybe in Utah.

So then you don't have a problem with an Asian boss with two applications on his desk from job-seekers with similar qualifications to pick the Asian job-seeker over the black one, because he identifies with his 'own kind?'

In addition to what others have said, because blacks aren't hiring the next president, or even the Democratic nominee. They're stating their preference for the candidates.

Racial politics has kept all but a very few blacks from running for President. Isn't a bit early to start squacking about "reverse-racism" (which is usually code for some racist being picked over a better-qualified minority)?

Also, why should blacks vote for the candidate that took them for granted, race-baited one of their own and, in general acted like a jerk towards them.

"Racial politics has kept all but a very few blacks from running for President. Isn't a bit early to start squacking about 'reverse-racism' (which is usually code for some racist being picked over a better-qualified minority)?"

We've had 43 quite pale presidents. Some might argue that we should have 43 dark-skinned presidents before pale people have a right to complain.

But that's seems a bit unreasonable to me, since we do agree that 43 far too large a number, and was unfair.

So maybe we should be able to complain after 21 very tan presidents.

But that's quite a lot.

So I say we settle for just having ten non-pale presidents in a row, and then we can complain that it's starting to be unfair to pale people.

Seem reasonable? Heck, maybe if pale people are on good behavior, everyone might agree to let it only be eight terms in a row.

Of course, what would be really unfair would be if we were to apply the same standard to men and women. A double standard is otherwise clearly in order. Any fair-minded person would show up here and complain that dark-skinned folk are voting for folks like them, but would say nothing about women voting primarily to vote for a woman and explaining that people "shouldn't" vote for such sexist reasons.

Complaining about both would be biased and ignorable, because it wouldn't be a double standard.

I'm just glad everyone is clear about that.

magistra: By 'right sort', I mean a gay politician who would not frighten Middle England (such as the ex-Cabinet minister Chris Smith): not a prominent gay rights activist, in a long-term partnership and 'straight' acting.

Yeah, I thought of the marriage/partnership issue last night, or rather this morning at 3:00 a.m. or so, but by then I was too cross-eyed to write a decent sentence.

If we have a viable gay candidate for president in the U.S. without a lot of further progress and change on the marriage front first, I will be very surprised. And didn't someone recently ask wryly (maybe right here on ObWi? or maybe it was one of Andrew Sullivan's readers) about whether we could even have an openly gay commander-in-chief given don't ask don't tell? Now that's my kind of ironic twist, right there.

But since you brought up atheists: I won't be surprised if we get a gay presidential candidate before we get an open atheist. Or maybe I should put that in the conditional, since I'll actually be surprised if we get either in my lifetime.

And then there's the gay atheist...oh well, I don't have the stamina to be president anyhow. ;)

Has there been a Jewish prime minister since Disraeli? I'm not as up on "recent" history as I should be.

40 years, let alone 60 years, or 80 years, all of which count as "a few decades,"

FWIW, I wouldn't consider any of those to be "a few decades". 30 years at the limit for me.

"Misogyny is more respectable, more accepted. Racism is low class, bad taste, not cool, bordering on sinful."

There may be reasons for that though. Misogyny *in the US* may express itself in less vile and less damaging ways than racism *in the US*. Both are bad, but that doesn't mean that the manifestations of one or the other can't be worse.

Or at least that is how it looks from someone who is neither female nor black. [ducks behind the table to avoid the crossfire]

Meh. Trying to compare the effects of sexism and racism is playing the "my oppression is worse than yours" game.
Kinda useless since both are bad medicine for anyone (and tactically, gets people arguing with each other, instead of the problem....)

I'm not at all convinced that misogyny is more powerful than racism right now, though I'm not sure what would count as settling the issue, and presumably we can agree that both are bad. I think people are more likely to say misogynistic things, partly because women are more likely to inhabit their social circles and to come up in conversation. But things like housing and employment discrimination are still incredibly powerful and pernicious manifestations of racism. When the US is more or less integrated residentially, I will conclude that all is well.

Anything that is perfectly capable of grinding up someone's life, and destroying it, in the wrong circumstances, is bad enough that trying to distinguish two such things that pass such a threshold -- which both misogyny and racism still do to some people in the United States of America today -- isn't useful.

Perhaps this is too convoluted, but isn't the substitution test a way to get an insight into this? How many women would prefer to be black men because the prejudice against them would be less socially acceptable?

Elections shouldn't be decided because of racial or gender predispositions, but on the merits of the candidates . . .

Um, they never have been before, so why start now? Seriously, you think it's a coincidence that every major party Presidential candidate ever until now has been a white Christian male?

Racism is low class, bad taste, not cool, bordering on sinful.

I don't know about that. A daily stroll through, for example, the comments at Stalkin' Malkin's place on any post involving black people show that racism is alive, well and extremely cool in certain segments.

Oh, hey, Sebastian, guess what? Guess what ol' Senator Straight Talk did today? You know, the guy who you recently told us was, in your words, "decidedly anti-torture?" Given a chance to help put into law a requirement that all government interrogators abide by the Army Field Manual, which bans waterboarding, he voted "No." So I guess "decidedly" is maybe a little strong, huh?

JanieM,

There's hasn't been a Jewish Prime Minister in the UK except for Disraeli (who had converted to Anglicanism), although there have been party leaders who are Jewish, and there hasn't yet been a Catholic PM. All the Prime Ministers have been nominally Protestant (though in some cases very nominally religious at all). I think someone Catholic or Jewish could become PM, but they would have to try and show their religion as family tradition rather than personal conviction. The British electorate are uncomfortable with any politician talking about their religion and particularly so after Tony Blair.

I think in the UK we are likely to get an atheist PM before we get a gay one (though we have already had a possibly gay one in Edward Heath), but both are quite feasible in the not too distant future. I can't see us getting a black PM (let alone a Muslim one) for a number of decades.

Magistra --

My son suggested that I should rethink my notion that we'll get a viable gay presidential candidate before an atheist, because it's the same people that don't like either of those options (basically the "so-called Christian" right). He's right in a way, so I'm trying to think why I have the gut feeling anyhow. The explanation is probably too long for a comment thread, though.

Disraeli having converted, which I had forgotten, points up interesting complications re: the distinction between "Jewish" as ethnicity vs as religion.

Going in a different direction, when you say you don't see the UK getting a black PM for a number of decades, I assume -- but would be interested to be corrected if I'm wrong -- that you don't include Indian under "black." Or do you? If ethnic Indians in the UK are not considered "black," then what do you think about the chances of an Indian PM? I would think that there are lots of ethnic Indians whose families have been in the UK for several generations by this time. Are they notably (or not) involved in politics?

Magistra,

Just for fun -- and a complete coincidence -- the morning after writing that last comment, I came across the following in the first volume of George Bernard Shaw's letters:

The Clerkenwell branch of the Social Democratic Federation, defying the S.D.F. manifesto calling on the workers to vote for none but Social Democratic candidates, and 'going Fabian,' caused the election by three votes of Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917), the Liberal candidate for Central Finsbury; Naoroji thus became the first Indian member of Parliament."

(From the headnote to a letter written July 16, 1891. Italics in the original.)

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