With election season in plain heat, we have come to witness many surprises from the candidates of both parties. In recent months, we have been privy not only to the triumphs and slip-ups of the candidates themselves, but also to those of experts and observers.
It seems that the analysis of the candidates by pundits, journalists and various other experts has become just as important as the candidates themselves. Race and gender appeal have been in the forefront of these ubiquitous observer discussions.
This basically only concerns the Democratic candidates, seeing as how the Republican runners are pretty homogenous. The ever-prevailing questions facing the Democrats have been: Is Obama black enough? Is Richardson (no longer running) Latino enough? Is Clinton enough of a woman?
Why does this matter? It seems as though minority candidates automatically elicit these questions from the mostly white, mainstream media. Why are we so concerned about minority candidates being appealing to their so-called base?
Barack Obama, a man who has proclaimed that he will change Washington, is still expected to be primarily attractive to the black community. However, polls have shown that the nation’s African Americans are more in support of Hillary Clinton. Thus, we hear pundits go off about Obama not being “black enough.” Bill Richardson has gotten the same kind of review regarding his Latino appeal. Some say he’s “too Latino,” others claim he is “not Latino enough.”
As for Hillary Clinton, she is, of course, expected to draw the female vote (which she actually is) and observers still comment on her alienation of women.
Here’s the kicker: how strange would it be if we suddenly started accusing white, male candidates of not being “white and male enough?” White male candidates are faced with a rigorous expectation of being politically correct and appealing to all the diverse demographics of the United States.
So why the double standard? Why do we expect minorities to appeal to minorities and white men to appeal to everybody? And in all this hassle about the whiteness and blackness and the “appropriate” appeal of the candidates, have we forgotten about the actual issues?
In any case, there is one group of people that apparently hasn’t – African Americans. According to polling groups and news sources like CNN and Time Magazine, most African-American voters questioned about the race appeal say that they will not choose a president based on skin color.
And why should they be expected to? Why would this kind of voting behavior be acceptable of blacks if a white voter who would only vote for a white male candidate would be considered a bigot?
This election has so far proven to be monumental in its progressive character. Three candidates (Richardson, Clinton and Obama) could not have possibly been in the running even 50 years ago. The openness to such a diverse group of candidates by the United States population has shown us that many Americans themselves have moved past the idea of this being a white man’s world, even if the media hasn’t.
It seems that the only ones still behind are those observers who still compartmentalize our nation by color and gender and expect candidates and voters to conform.
Dukmasova is a member of the class of 2011.