Smith&King, Barack Obama

Smith&King, Barack Obama - STATE OF THE DISCOURSE...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
STATE OF THE DISCOURSE BARACK OBAMA AND THE FUTURE OF AMERICAN RACIAL POLITICS1 Rogers M. Smith Department of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania Desmond S. King Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford Abstract In 2008, following a campaign in which racial issues were largely absent, Americans elected their first Black president. This article argues that Obama's election does not signal the dawn of a postracial era in U.S. politics. Rather, it reflects the current structure of racial politics in the United States—a division between those who favor color-blind policies and seek to keep racial discussions out of politics, and those who favor race-conscious measures and whose policies are often political liabilities. The Obama campaign sought to win support from both camps. Only if pervasive material racial inequalities are reduced can such a strategy succeed in the long run. Keywords: Barack Obama, Postracial, Color-Blind, Racial Orders, Race-Conscious Policies Barack Obama's rise to the presidency has been accompanied by much debate, in both academia and popular political discourse, over whether his success represents a "postracial" politics or is the harbinger of a postracial era in U.S. politics (e.g., Connerly 2008; Street 2008; Bobo and Dawson, 2008, p. 1; Sinclair-Chapman and Price, 2008, p. 739). Though there is great skepticism, particularly in academia, about whether the United States is genuinely moving beyond a politics shaped by racial divisions, even skeptics accept that Obama ran a postracial, or at least a "race-neutral," campaign (Baiocchi 2008; Sinclair-Chapman and Price, p. 741). Here we seek not to challenge but to give greater specificity to these contentions by
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Rogers M. Smith and Desmond S. King WAS IT A POSTRACIAL ELECTION? To understand if it makes sense to analyze the present and future of U.S. politics in postracial terms, we begin with the question, should we simply accept that the United States has already entered an era of postracial politics? After all, a major party nominated and elected a presidential candidate commonly seen as Black, and neither that candidate nor his opponent focused on race or racial issues during the campaign and in their proposed policy choices facing the country. Surely this silence about race and racial policies is a defining characteristic of a postracial politics. Though we agree that a postracial politics would display such silence, race may be excluded from discussion for different reasons, as the nineteenth-century gag rule showed. We argue that modern alliances on racial issues, not the absence of racial concerns, moved discussions of race to the margins of both campaigns in 2008. Note that not only was Barack Obama the first non-White candidate ever to be nominated by a major party in the United States for either president or vice-president but also, though all of humanity probably originated in Africa, Obama was the first person of known, modern African descent to be nominated and elected in a country with a
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 02/22/2011 for the course AFPRL 103 taught by Professor Melendez during the Spring '11 term at CUNY Hunter.

Page1 / 11

Smith&King, Barack Obama - STATE OF THE DISCOURSE...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online