According to a recent Associated Press article, black conservatives are conflicted about whom to vote for in the upcoming presidential election. These conservatives are opposed to presidential candidate, Barack Obama’s ideology and policies, but for some reason still feel compelled to vote for him. Armstrong Williams, a black conservative talk show host, says that it will be hard to vote against Obama: “I don’t necessarily like his policies; I don’t like much that he advocates, but for the first time in my life, history thrusts me to really seriously think about it.”
But in the context of choosing whom to elect for public office, what could be more important than ideology and political policy? John McWhorter, a black conservative author and senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, answers: the goal “of getting past race for real.” According to such conservatives, in order to get past race (i.e. racism) America needs to elect a black man, Obama.
The glaring contradiction in voting for someone because of their race in order to end racism is mentioned in the AP article, but is never addressed. McWhorter even goes as far as to say that Obama’s Democratic victory “proves that while there still is some racism in the United States, there is not enough to matter in any serious manner.” But if McWhorter and Williams’ views are any indication, just the opposite is true.
Racism is making moral judgments about others based on the colour of their skin—rather than their character and actions—pure and simple. Voting for Obama because he is black is no less racist than voting against him for the same reason. In order to truly move past race, black conservatives and everyone else should ignore race full stop—not vote for Obama because of his race.
For a more in-depth analysis of racism, I refer you to Dr. Edwin Locke’s op-ed “What We Should Remember on Martin Luther King Day“