Gerald Early has written an eloquent and thought-provoking piece in the Chronicle about Barack Obama’s election hopes in the context of American racial history. He presents the first coherent argument about the end of racism that does not give any thanks to White culture while also unceremoniously dumping the age-old and endlessly-harped-upon Black position as-victim. I think his most interesting thought is
Many of us black professionals, members of the black elite, keep the embers of our victimization burning for opportunistic reasons: to lev-erage white patronage, to maintain our own sense of identity and tradition. In some respects, this narrative has something of the power in its endurance that original sin does for Christians. In fact, our narrative of victimization is America’s original sin, or what we want to serve as the country’s original sin, which may be why we refuse to give it up.
It’s a piece well worth reading if you are interested in the cultural and political themes that this election draws upon but only seem to get passing reference in the news media.
Here’s a great analysis of what McCain’s avoidance of direct eye contact with Barack Obama says about their relationship. Summary: animal scholars believe that in many mammalian social situations eye contact is considered a challenge, so typically weaker and subservient males avoid eye contact with the stronger, alpha males in a pack.
I’d like to think that this analysis is a good corrolary for the entire debate, but I think the result was pretty mediocre, with neither side achieving a real victory; not that debates have any real statistical effect on a president’s approval ratings. I’d like to know the explanation behind this, but the graphs on CNN that showed audience approval rating bear this out. Each political affiliation’s line (Democrat, Independent, Republican) would react more or less exactly to when their candidate was talking. The independents seemed to be a little less loyal to any particular candidate, but really, most people have already decided on who they are going to vote for.
I promised that I would write about this, but unfortunately I haven’t had the time to do the proper research on it. Maybe just writing my thoughts down will prompt someone to do some due diligence on the matter. Anyway, the issue is this: Obama (and by extension the Democratic party) has been selling itself as ‘the party of the common man’. In essence, Obama and the Democrats are banking on the American voter punishing the Republicans for the current state of the economy. The Democrats have found their example cases to feature in commercials: “people just like you” who have lost their homes, lost their jobs, their way of life, etc. These ads are meant to cause empathy between the average voter and the Democratic party.
The problem: who is going to empathize? Continue reading
I’m looking forward to seeing Obama’s speech in Berlin’s picturesque Tiergarden, in front of the Victory column (I’m actually a lot more happy about this location than in front of the Brandenburg Gate; that probably would have been setting expectations far too high for a presidential candidate).
The speech is going to come on at 1 pm; I’ll post my thoughts about it here afterwards.