Critical Section

black women voting

Monday,  01/21/08  12:34 PM

Barack and HillaryI saw this headline on CNN this morning: Black women voters face tough choices.  This is about the South Carolina democratic primary, and the two leading candidates are of course Hillary Clinton, a white woman, and Barack Obama, a black man.  The implication is that if you're a black woman, you're torn between voting for someone of your gender, or someone of your race.  But when you take a step back, isn't that a little weird?

All other things being equal, people might favor a candidate who is of their race or gender.  But all things are definitely not equal, every candidate is a unique person with different experience, capabilities, opinions, etc.  Wouldn't those things be more important?  And why is it a good thing for a candidate to share your race or gender?  Is there an implication that they'll make decisions more favorable to you (to your race, or your gender) than other candidates?  There might be something to that, but not much.  Barack hasn't run on a platform of improving things for blacks, and Hillary hasn't featured women's issues in her campaign.  If either did they would risk alienating everyone else, not to mention policies which help one group at the expense of others generally aren't the best ones anyway.

At the highest level it seems shallow for CNN to think that black women voters face a tough choice between Barack and Hillary on account of race or gender.  It might indeed be a tough choice - it is for me, for example, and I'm a white man! - but not because of such a simple association.

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