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

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Meryl Ann Butler     Permalink
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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.

Barack Obama

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John McCain

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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