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Daniel Blackman Headshot

Electing Yourself a Racist

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There's been a lot of discussion about the race factor and the so-called Bradley Effect - which posits that those with racist tendencies are too embarrassed to tell the truth to pollsters. Therefore the poll numbers are skewed and hide a unknown number of McCain voters. I don't buy it. Are all racists created equal? I think there is a spectrum between a young skinhead, and a biased white retiree in Florida.

If you are a hardcore racist, wouldn't you just say you support McCain as opposed to lying about your support for Obama? And what about those who tell a pollster they support Obama, while potentially harboring racist tendencies? If you're embarrassed enough about your racism that you must lie - surely there is some serious cognitive dissonance at play. These people are conflicted, and in denial (I'm not really a racist, I just feel uncomfortable) - which means they are susceptible to reason. And if they they choose race over reason, they must also bring themselves to vote against their best interests. While this is common behavior, things are so bad this time around, they may not be able to do it.

The Republican electorate has a rich history of voting against their self-interest. This is effectively illustrated in Thomas Frank's insightful What's the Matter with Kansas. Thomas rightly argues that the GOP has successfully leveraged the culture wars to continually (and successfully) distract their constituents from the core issues and Republican policies that negatively effect them. Forget that you don't have a job, a house, or health care, just don't let those elitist, gay, abortionists take my guns away. It's the largest shell game in history.

While the shell game may still work for the base, I have faith in the undecided who are sitting on that racial fence. If you don't really see yourself as a racist, I think it's very hard to label yourself as one with your vote. It's also never been a worse time to vote against your self-interests. On the one side is true change, integrity, and a passion to really serve the people. On the other is stasis, dishonesty, and the politics of fear.

Voting against yourself is bad enough. But to walk into that booth and pull the level based solely on the color of a persons skin, is to nominate, vote, and elect yourself as a racist.

I think that's a very difficult decision to have to live with.