Guest Article by Mark Wells
A funny thing happened on the way to the election this year, the race war ended. Yes, that is a bold statement, but one I believe is supported by the outcome of this election and certainly from the exit polls. Don’t get me wrong though, any time a war comes to an end there are still skirmishes and arguments that persist for some time. There are also those instigators that work feverishly to promote a continued state of war because they profit from the racist and bigoted confrontation. But in the end, the election showed us a sea change in American race relations. Where we can argue on policy ( and oh how we will over the next 4 years) without arguing about a person’s race, or gender for that matter. How? Lets look at the polls.
Well besides the obviousness of the election and the interracial celebration in force throughout most major cities in the US, the exit polls tell an interesting story. Most notably, Obama won by roughly 8,000,000 votes. Votes that at first glance seem to come from the over abundance of minority votes cast for Obama. But when we look deeper, we see where the minority vote was not enough to allow an Obama victory. Something, or more to the point, someone had to be the deciding factor.
So looking at the polls, lets start with race. It goes without saying that minorities voted for Obama and voted based on race. But is that a bad thing. Not really in this case, since it was more than expected to happen. Plus, this vote was more on the lines of a parent voting for their child in a competition they have never won. Their vote was based on pride versus a derogatory, demeaning and revenge based attack against the other competitor. You can’t fault people for supporting in essence, themselves. But other questions in the exit polls reflect a darker side that luckily is fading with age.
For the roughly 7,000,000 in positive minority votes, 3,000,000 of that was counter-acted to some extent by racism. So how can the race war be over if racism played a part in the election? Because it didn’t. When you look at the exit polls by age group, you see that two things happened. One, votes across most age groups impacted Obama, especially among the middle aged. But among the elderly, we find our source for the sharp drop in votes that countered the significant minority presence. The Elderly flat out did not vote. They just did not show up. So much so you can’t statistically account for it with death. But not showing up does not mean they came to support McCain. They did not. The elderly are more prone to historically derogatory feelings and as such, just did not take an interest in this election for what ever personal reason they had. The good news in this is that racism is dying out, literally.
So how did Obama win? He convinced well-educated, upper middle class and rich white folks that he was the candidate that could do the most good for the country and they cast their ballots (particularly among the rich) in record numbers. A full 7,000,000 ( an almost 100% increase in votes from 2004) rich voters over $100K bolted to the ballot boxes eager to cast votes irregardless of race. In fact overall, more white people voted for Obama than at any other time. Yes, minorities voted for their own and deservedly so, but Obama won because race didn’t prevent the breadth of our electorate from considering policy in their decisions. For those that did, well, give it ten years and they won’t be here to matter.
In the end, our kids will enjoy the good that did come out of this election (policy debates will be reserved for another time) but only if we promote and educate them about the historical and socially significant meaning behind it. In essence, its up to us now. To push the instigators of hate to the fringe and allow the racial blindness of childhood innocent to persist beyond 3rd grade.
In Response To: Victories, Defeats, and Where Next