Will race matter behind the voting curtain?
By Michael A. Matteo
I must say that I find my self extremely perplexed regarding people’s attitudes about the upcoming presidential election as it relates to race. On the one hand, I have read numerous articles that take the point of view that the fact that Barrack Obama is the first “African-American” presidential candidate makes it some kind of momentous event for “African-Americans.” Actually Mr. Obama isn’t the first “African-American” presidential candidate. Dr. Lenora Fulani was the first woman and “African-American” to get on the presidential ballot in all 50 states in 1988. Barrack Obama is, however, the first “African-American” to be nominated by a major political party.
On the other hand, I have heard people say to me that America isn’t ready for a “black” president and when “white” people step into the voting booth they will vote for the “white” guy. I like to think that people with this type of myopic attitude are a very small percentage of those who actually get out and vote because they are stuck at home waiting for their hooded robes to come back from the cleaners.
If Obama loses, will there be people who cry that he lost because America is inherently racist and couldn’t tolerate a “black” man being president? Will people vote for or against him solely because of the pigmentation of his skin? I’m sure both cases will find a minority of misinformed people who do take these actions. But what about the majority of Americans who vote? Will race matter when you are standing there, alone, staring at your ballot?
Several years ago I co-authored a book, “The Politically Incorrect Jokebook.” In the book I poked fun at the fact that there is really no such thing as a “black” or “white” person because melanin is a chemical in the body that is responsible for skin pigmentation. The darkest a person can be is dark brown and the lightest “white” person will still have some color. Referring to a dark skinned person as “African-American” isn’t accurate either because a Caucasian with ancestry in any African nation who is American is also an “African-American.” Is it accurate to say that every dark skinned person has his or her ancestral origin in Africa? A person who believes that humanity started with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden could make a compelling argument that we should all be called “Eden-Americans” since that is where they believe their ancestry began. Thus, I came up with the idea that since people are the color they are based upon melanin, the best terminology to describe people is melanin positive and melanin negative. Given this indisputable fact we might consider referring to Obama as the melanin positive candidate and McCain as the melanin negative candidate. It just doesn’t have the same ring to it when you say, “Barrack Obama is the first melanin positive candidate to receive a nomination by a major political party,” does it?
Why is it that people feel the need to select some unimportant phenotypical characteristic and deem it significant enough to vote for an individual? We saw it in the Democratic primary with Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama. Except, instead of race being the sole factor it was also gender. How many times did I hear that, whoever won the Democratic primary would make history, because they would be either the first “African-American” or first female presidential candidate?” Sorry Hillary, but even if you had won the nomination you wouldn’t have been the first woman to run for president. The first woman to run for president was Victoria Claflin Woodhull who ran on the Equal Right’s Party ticket in 1872.
Sex, race, or the size of a candidate’s big toe is not a reason to vote for or against a candidate. Personally, I’m far more concerned upon their brain than their gender or skin color. I want to know their views on the issues that are important to me like foreign policy, economics, and how many lobbyists are pumping money into their campaigns. I’m concerned with their voting records when they were in Congress, and how closely their ideologies reflect my own as it relates to the role of government in my life.
Anomalies and “firsts” are great to view in museums and at the circus, but I would much rather have a president in office who reflects my views than one who is a mirrored reflection of my own race or gender.
Mike Matteo is a resident of Tampa, Florida where he was a public and private high school teacher who taught classes in economics, history, psychology and philosophy. Mike has written twenty full-length feature films, has taught screenwriting at the University of South Florida. He has also written or co-authored three books. E-mail him at: email@example.com.