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« From the department of ’Duh’ | Main | Bicentennials »

January 21, 2009

I voted for a black president before you did

Keyes Alan Keyes in the 2000 primary.

I did not vote for him because he was black. If there's a good moral argument for selecting candidates on the basis of race or rhetoric, I've never heard it (and cannot imagine it).

Ideology, character, policy positions ... this is the stuff of elections. Alan Keyes had these in spades, whatever fun the late-night comics (geniuses, they) may have had with him.  

Frankly, he spanked the GOP contenders in the 2000 presidential primary debates. They had no answer for the man; he was clearly above them in his policy knowledge, philosophical depth and impromptu communication skills. As a grad student in the audience of his speech and Q&A session at William & Mary in 2000, I was mightily impressed.

This past presidential election, unfortunately, seemed to be all about race and rhetoric.

Celebrating a post-racial society is a very, very good thing. It is my own opinion that we've at least been in the vicinity of post-racial America for over a decade. A core promise of President Obama's campaign was to cement that reality. If President Obama delivers on that promise -- one of the promises that will define success or failure for this President -- then, for that reason anyway, I welcome his presidency.

(Image © Renew America)

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Comments

Gene

I too voted for Mr. Keyes in that primary. Here's hoping that he will win the 2012 Republican nomination; I would love to see him up against President Obama. (Did I just use a semicolon? http://thepoint.breakpoint.org/2008/06/equal-opportu-1.html)

LeeQuod

It's good to see you in print again, Allen.

Mr. Keyes was indeed very impressive, and would have made a fine president IMHO.

A local newspaper editorial writer asked if it wasn't time to retire the phrase "African American" and just use "American". He went on to ask whether or not you can count people of mixed racial heritage like Tiger Woods when saying that African Americans have made progress. It makes me think that the purpose of keeping racial characterizations is to continue using government to redress historical inequalities. And I've got to think that there's a conflict coming between those who want to keep helping minorities, and those who say we should forget the whole notion of minorities (perhaps by "reductio ad absurdum" - Tiger Woods is his own individual minority category, so why not make *everyone*, all 300 million Americans, into 300 million minorities?).

Hm - perhaps there will be positions in U.S. federal government for statisticians who calculate the percentage of quota satisfaction based on the percentage of a person's racial characteristics. If so, then we're really only halfway to our first African American president...

Brian Thornton

I voted for Gary Bauer in 2000, another conservative who ran circles around the front runners. However, I did support Mr. Keyes in the 1996 Republican Primary.

labrialumn

Me, too, Alan. I went to caucus to support him. In 2000.

Jason Taylor


Voting for a candidate because he is black is I think acceptable in the legislature. Legislaters are supposed to represent and therefore the legislature is the proper home of factional jockeying. The President belongs to all of us though.
That said I am not immune to such things either. I would have voted republican anyway, but "the warrior and the ice princess" caught my imagination a little more then "the Chicago ward boss and the bureaucrat."

Allen

Well, sheesh, you guys are spoiling everything! Seems like everyone voted for Keyes! Brian beat me by four years. Labrialumn supported him at caucus. So much for my exclusive claim...

Well, at least I'm in great company.

I do quibble with your differentiation, Jason, between voting based upon race in presidential race and doing the same for a legislature. Maybe ... maybe ... there's a case for "all other things being equal" and those "other things" are the proper bases. Maybe. Though ... I cannot really think of a good argument for it.

As for your speculation, Lee, I haven't a clue as to what to expect. But I do know that I am exceedingly weary of all of the fuss over race. It's so divisive. Twenty years ago, perhaps such concerns still made sense. Now? I don't see it. Sure, yes, let's understand each others' racial context and experience so that we can be sensitive to them and develop deeper relationships with them. But the time for government to treat someone differently based upon race is long, long over. And it seems that we regress when the electorate does the same.

Jason Taylor

It is a little questionable. However giving factionalism some expression has advantage. In modern America, the states have lost their prestiege and loyalty goes to subcultures, not states. This sort of thing is inevitable and in any case, America was meant to be Federalist not monalithic. As America cannot have the sort of clan-federalism that Italian city-states had in the 1300s(I know, that's the history buff talking), subculture federalism does make a good substitute.
Politics is the art of the possible, not of the ideal and there are disadvantages with a state in which people vote based on undivided loyalty to the central government. Undivided loyalty has no veto.
The Federal legislature was meant originally to give sub-groups power as well as individuals. In affirming the legitimacy of voting for a legislator because he is black we are reinterpreting an old tradition.
That said, there are counterarguments and I am not inclined to make a serious fuss over the point. It is at least interesting though.

Jason Taylor

Ultimatly there should be subgroups between individuals and the state because that makes a healthier society-it provides watcher's of the watchers, and watcher's of the watchers of the watchers ad infiniteum. Also local loyalties do have one big advantage over loyaty to the central government. This is that all States act like mobsters for the presumed greater good at sometime or other. It is not necessarily healthy for people to commit themselves to much to such a thing.*
All that said, Special Interests in the modern form, has disadvantages. One of the main things I dislike about it is it's frankly moralistic tone. If people were honestly competeing before voters for the glory of their dynasty they might be more civil. On the other hand history doesn't seem to bear that out. And past Democracies weren't any more polite to each other. Whatever.


*Note: I have at times defended Nationalism. That is not contradictory to the last statement as it is not an either-or. I am not in favor of unthinking loyalty to the state; just saying there should be some loyalty, as well as loyalty to Other Things.

Jason Taylor

On the OTHER, other hand, maybe the thing that makes people mad is simply that they are competeing for the whole pie rather then pieces of it. Which isn't true Federalism.

labrialumn

subculture federalism is just group-will-to-power identity politics, a.k.a. fascism.

Allen

Jason, a lot of good thoughts here. I guess where I come down is that, given our nation's awful history with race, there's an important difference between local interests and racial biases. This is an awfully simple way of thinking about it, and I admit that you've introduced some sophistication that I'm not accounting for here.

One way of demonstrating the difference: while we find utterly tolerable, if not often amusing, biases among states, the perceived and real biases among races is impossible to laugh about. There's still pain and hurt, rational or not. And yet it's the viewing of our world, privately and publicly, through the lens of race, that prevents that deep healing.

Rereading you, I think we agree on too much to require my going on and on. So I'll simply thank you for the good thinking (as always).

Allen Keyes should retire

Video of him getting arrested is hilarious!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxqP1O1_K4w go

Allen

Wikipedia: "Keyes' entry into the Republican race after Buchanan had secured victories in New Hampshire and Louisiana led many to believe that Keyes was a stalking horse for neoconservative elements in the G.O.P., since Buchanan had been a well-known ardent foe of abortion and had suffered political fallout for bringing abortion and "cultural war" to the center of the public policy debate. Later during the primaries, Keyes was briefly detained by Atlanta police when he tried to force his way into a debate to which he had been invited, and then disinvited. He was never formally arrested and was eventually picked up 20 minutes later by Atlanta's Mayor at the time, Bill Campbell."

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