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WHEN ANATOMY TRUMPS COLOR: Race and Gender Patterns and their Possible Effect Upon the 2008 Presidential Race

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In race and gender patterns in the United States, men of color have traditionally been granted their rights in advance of women. Therefore, as long as this pattern continues, Barack Obama is better positioned than Hillary Clinton to beat John McCain, or any other white male Republican.


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(Image by Unknown Owner)   Details   DMCA


Patterns, whether grounded in fact or fiction, are by definition, deeply rooted and cyclical. Consider one odd pattern in American politics often referred to as Tecumsuh’s Curse: for 120 years, every president elected in a year ending in the numeral zero died in office, the majority from assassination. [1]


Patterns of race and gender are mixed inextricably into the mortar of society, right or wrong, and typically only change very gradually.


Free black men in post Revolutionary America could own land, but it was not until the 1850’s that states began passing women’s property rights legislation. [2]


Black men were allowed into the military before women.[3] In 1870, James Webster Smith became the first African-American admitted to the United States Military Academy at West Point.[4] Women were finally admitted, over a century later, in 1976[5].


Black men were granted the right to vote via the fifteenth amendment in 1870[6]. Women did not get the vote until 1920, through the nineteenth amendment[7].


So, it seems likely that these race and gender patterns will affect the timing of the nation’s first black and female presidents.


Anatomy trumps skin color. This is not a judgment by the author, simply an observation of the pattern. (So don’t shoot the piano player! She’s a feminist!)


If Hillary were to receive the Democratic nomination, she would have to overcome this pattern. However, Obama could win, based on the foundations of this pattern.


Obama, who is half black, is obviously also half white, and therefore could become a stepping stone toward racial equality in the White House, if he receives the Democratic nomination.


McCain could use the “gender card” against Hillary, but it is very unlikely that he would ever use the “race card” against Obama, as McCain himself is the adoptive father of a daughter of color, born in Bangladesh in 1991.


In the 2000 primaries, McCain was the target of a racially based smear campaign in South Carolina, falsely attributing his daughter Bridget’s birth to the result of McCain’s supposed liason with a black prostitute. This may have cost him the race in that state. When asked McCain about it, he replied, “There were some pretty vile and hurtful things said during the South Carolina primary. It's a really nasty side of politics. We tried to ignore it and I think we shielded (Bridget) from it. It's just unfortunate that that sort of thing still exists. As you know she's Bengali, and very dark-skinned. A lot of phone calls were made by people who said we should be very ashamed about her, about the color of her skin. Thousands and thousands of calls from people to voters saying, ‘You know, the McCains have a black baby.’ I believe that there is a special place in hell for people like those.”


Ironically, if the final race is between Obama and McCain, whatever the outcome, a person of color will be living in the White House. It’s about time.

[1]   The “Curse” began with the death of William Henry Harrison, who died in 1841 after having been elected in 1840. Every 20 years thereafter, for the next 120 years, the winner of the United States presidential election ultimately died while serving in office, from Abraham Lincoln (elected 1860, died 1865) to John F. Kennedy (elected 1960, died 1963). This pattern seemed to begin to break up with Ronald Reagan, (elected in 1980) who survived an assassination attempt shortly after entering the office. George W. Bush, “elected” in 2000, was not injured in a grenade assassination attempt, and has survived so far. Perhaps this curse only applies to a president who was actually elected, not appointed.

[2]  During the 19th C., states began enacting common law principles affecting the property rights of married women. Married women's property acts differ in language, and their dates of passage span many years. One of the first was enacted by Connecticut in 1809, allowing women to write wills. The majority of states passed similar statutes in the 1850s. Passed in 1848, New York's Married Women's Property Act was used by other states as a model.

[6] It was, however, through the Voting Rights Act of 1965, almost a century later, that the full promise of the Fifteenth Amendment was actually achieved in all states. President Lyndon B. Johnson, himself a Southerner, urged Congress on March 15, 1965, to pass legislation “which will make it impossible to thwart the 15th amendment.” He reminded Congress that “we cannot have government for all the people until we first make certain it is government of and by all the people.”

[7] Called the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, it became law on August 26, 1920.

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Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing since she was a hippie. She began writing for OpEdNews in Feb, 2004. She became a Senior Editor in August 2012 and Managing Editor in January, (more...)

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