Monday, March 03, 2008

White men as swing voters?

After an earlier story run before the South Carolina primary on CNN backfired on the network, in which they asked black women whether they supported Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, with the obvious subtext that the election was about race vs. gender, the networks seem beside themselves in discovering that the new 'swing voters' are white men in the Democratic party. The theory goes, apparently, that since black voters are voting heavily for Obama and white women are mostly voting for Clinton, Obama's recent success is courtesy of white men choosing Obama over Clinton.

The subtext to this one is that the white men are more sexist than they are racist, which is why we (I am a white male Democrat) are supporting Obama.

Which is utter and complete bologna, and I reject their analysis.

To begin with, let's consider who white male Democrats are. As we know, the preferred party of white men in general is the Republican party. And white men who are either racist or sexist are much more likely to feel at home in an anti-abortion party that opposes affirmative action, child care and anti-poverty programs than they are in today's Democratic party. Very likely they've already left.

The white men who are left, such as myself, are therefore likely to be the most liberal of white men, those who reject the essense of the Republican party.

And the truth is, Hillary Clinton has not been getting the votes of these men because she is the more conservative candidate. The Iraq war vote in 2002 was huge, but that isn't all. Her reluctance to question the wisdom of that vote and renounce it (a la John Edwards) spoke volumes. But she also voted for NCLB, Patriot I, Patriot II, the bankrupcty bill, and just to show that she still hadn't learned anything, the Iran vote last year. So the reason I didn't vote for Hillary Clinton isn't because she was a woman, the reason I didn't vote for her is because her hawkish foreign policy reminded me of Joe Lieberman (I didn't vote for him either when he ran for President in 2004.)

A friend of mine feels the same way, but he told me about how he had been roundly excoriated by some female friends of his who believe that he based his vote on gender. This is of course ridiculous. In fact, the last time when there was a serious competition between a white woman and a black man within the Democratic party, Nancy Pelosi in 2005 defeated former congressman Harold Ford of Tennessee to become minority leader (and then accede to speaker after the 2006 elections.) Most Democratic men I know, if they had a strong opinion of the race, felt that it was better that Pelosi won because she better represents the traditional views of the Democratic party. I agree with that assessment.

But the idea that white male Democrats decide who to vote for based on gender (or race for that matter) is insulting at the deepest level to many of us who have spent a great deal of time and effort supporting the candidate who we believe is better.

5 comments:

wunelle said...

An interesting read and a good analysis. CNN should take you to lunch and have a little chat!

Anonymous said...

re: you comment about the Will.I.Am. video at Althouse:

You really have drunk deep of teh Kool-Aid, haven't you?

shrimplate said...

People who have allowed themselves to become thoroughly propagandized by rightwing nonsense always accuse others of
"drinking the kool-aid."

Projection and irony. They wear it like cheap cologne.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting to read!

Zach said...

I think it's too easy for people (and I think that both candidates have avoided this, which I respect) to pull the race and gender cards here. And just wait until the general election. If McCain wins (against either Dem) I guarantee you people will be pulling those cards. The reality of it is that most people that are educated and involved enough to vote are not ignorant enough to not vote for someone just becasue of their race or gender.