Tuesday, April 8, 2008
RACE AND SEX IN THE 2008 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
“THE ETHNIC PRESIDENCY”
Is race and sex a factor in the 2008 Presidential election? Are Americans ready for a female President? Are they ready for an ethnic minority President? Is it possible that the Vice-Presidential candidate may be equally or even more important than the party nominee? The new book, “THE ETHNIC PRESIDENCY” by Earl Ofari Hutchinson addresses some of these issues. Americans should consume all that they can in order to make an intelligent decision in the fall elections. That would be different!
In July 2007, Barack Obama was still pretty much the mystery man among them. His popularity among Latinos then wallowed in the low double digit numbers. Obama and Hillary Clinton knew their presence at the event would send the message to Latinos that the Latino vote was crucial for them to win the White House.
The moment that both announced their presidential candidacies it was a foregone conclusion that they would pull out every stop to get the edge on the other in the battle for ethnic supremacy. This wasn’t solely because the Latino, black and Asian votes were make or break votes for each, but because they both had a strong sense of entitlement toward these votes. The starting point for Hillary was Bill. In a poll taken in January 1996 at the start of his second term, nine out of ten blacks liked and admired him. Latinos weren’t far behind in their like of Bill. He got more than 60 percent of the Latino vote in 1992 and seventy percent of their vote in his reelection victory in 1996.
In countless polls during the early months after both tossed their hats in the presidential ring, Clinton and Obama ran neck and neck in the avowed admiration and loyalty blacks gave the pair. In a June 2007 Gallup poll blacks by 8 to 1 margins had favorable views of both them. Hillary didn’t just rest on Bill’s laurels. As Senator she carefully built a strong network among black ministers, politicians, and Democrats within and without the Congressional Black Caucus, and state black elected officials.
The ethic jockeying of Clinton and Obama was really only a side show in the Democratic primaries. If either one of them got the nomination, they had a lock on the black vote, perhaps even a record turnout and vote of blacks. The Latino and Asian vote was another matter. It was very much in play both in the Democratic primaries, and possibly in the general election as well. The dash to La Raza’s convention by Obama and Clinton, and to just about any other major Latino or Asian political or voter forum nationally was a mandatory stop that both had to make.
The scramble for leading endorsements from top Latino elected officials was vital.For the moment though, Clinton had the political juice to get the biggest of the big names among Latino politicians in her camp. She also showed that she was adept at thinking on her feet to head off a potential public relations disaster with Asian-American supporters. When several Asian foreign language reporters were blocked from entering a Clinton townhall event in San Francisco in February 2007, Hillary rushed back to the city to hold a special session with Asian journalists there and that prominently included the journalists snubbed earlier.
The trek to Miami and other Latino conferences, and rallies, was only part of Obama’s plan to stay in the hunt with Hillary for the Latino vote. In a campaign stop in San Antonio, Texas, in July, Obama brashly attempted to wrap himself in the mantle of Cesar Chavez, the revered 1960s Latino labor leader and civil rights icon. Being an unknown political quantity among Latinos was only one problem for Obama. The other was the latent tensions and at times low intensity warfare that raged between blacks and Latinos in some cities such as Los Angeles over jobs, and immigration, and at times exploded in gang and prison violence. This could severely damage Obama’s court of Latino voters in the nation’s biggest delegate state, California. In Los Angeles County, Latinos made up nearly one-third of the voters.
For much more information about Earl Ofari Hutchinson and The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Affects the Race to the White House, visit his blog blitz homepage - http://inspiredauthor.com/promotion/Ethnic+Presidency+Blitz. To order your copy of the Ethnic Presidency, visit www.ethnicpresidency.com or