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White privilege is the bundle of unearned advantages that come with being categorized as "white" in American society. Those of us who study race and politics often have a hard time convincing white people--and some others overly identified with Whiteness--of how this dynamic impacts our society.

On Tuesday, Mitt Romney was embarrassed by Barack Obama in a debate about foreign policy. There, Romney was a child trying to engage in a fist fight against a grown man, and subsequently had his behind, almost quite literally, handed to him. Obama thrashed Mitt Romney in the prior debate as well. Thus, a puzzle and conundrum: Mitt Romney has gained support among white voters after both horrible performances.

How do we explain this trend?

President Obama has the double burden of being African-American and an incumbent. His record in office is colored by his race--and what the white public's perception of Obama's blackness means for how they assess his performance and accomplishments.

Barack Obama is hamstrung by a double standard where he is held to a far higher bar for success than a white president. For that reason, and some very significant others too, his reelection campaign is now very much imperiled.

Let me be clear: Barack Obama did poorly in the first debate against Mitt Romney. However, Obama's sub par performance was better than either of Romney's performances in the last two contests. But, Romney is gaining in the polls with voters who somehow see him as "qualified" enough to be President after losing two debates in a row against the president.

The empirical evidence has long suggested that presidential debates are unimportant for voters' decisions on election day. We have also never had a black president running for a second term. I would suggest that this upsets all of our existing models and explanations.

Obama is playing a game that folks who look like him are not supposed to be involved in. Black Americans have been defined for centuries as "anti-citizens," and had to be specifically written back into the Constitution in order to correct what was a gross birth defect at the heart of "the greatest democracy" in the world. Obama's rise to the presidency is an anomaly in the the American political tradition.

Consequently, all rules are now off and need to be rewritten as we try to conceptualize Barack Obama's run for reelection within the long arch of race and politics in American history.

The counter-factual is very telling. Consider the following scenario for a moment.

If Obama had lost the final two debates by the same degree as Romney, the polls would be even more overwhelmingly in favor of the challenger (at this point, Obama would be calling the moving trucks; Romney would be measuring the curtains). In all, the outsized advantage enjoyed by Romney is more than a twist on the advantage held by a candidate without a record, who is running a post-truth campaign where lying is the norm, and against an incumbent who is in office during hard economic times.

Historically, white privilege has meant the subsidization of white mediocrity. In this election, that standing rule has played out with white independent voters, many of who simply want the incumbent out of office, and are influenced by a concerted campaign of anti-black racism, the mining of white racial resentment, and the Republican Party's use of the Southern Strategy 2.0 to undermine the country's first black president.

For these voters, white privilege and white racism has legitimated, and thus made okay, a basic calculation. The black guy was given a shot, the White candidate is not doing too great but is good enough, and in their hearts, the "hope and change" we need is for a White candidate to once again be in charge of a White Republic as a way of returning it to normalcy. White is right. Mitt Romney is their candidate.

Centuries of American history have demonstrated how an exceptional black man will almost always lose out to a slightly above average (or even horribly untalented) white man. Black folks do not have to be ten times better to get half as far anymore. Nevertheless, we do need to be substantially better to simply get a fair shot. In presidential politics, this may be a bridge too far for Barack Obama to cross.

White privilege is the de facto standing decision rule in American life, culture, society, and politics. That Romney could win by losing is further proof of a hard truth about the permanence of the color line in post racial, post civil rights, America

Ultimately, a black man can be elected President. White privilege will not allow him to be reelected to the office. The truth hurts. Perhaps, and with two weeks from election day, all of us had best get used to that fact.

Originally posted to chaunceydevega on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 10:06 AM PDT.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well, considering the polls (8+ / 0-)

    that have been trickling out since the third debate, I would have to disagree with you on this.

    In fact, I would that again, Barack Obama proves himself to be the exception to the rule in that many (I probably wouldn't say most) people will allow him to be the angry black man...well, provided he doesn't get "ghetto" about it.

    Which would still fit in with your thesis about white privilege, FWIW.

    •  "I would say that again,..." (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
    •  what polls and data, he is doing consistently (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      better if you look at the trend lines.

      •  If (5+ / 0-)

        you look at the odds, his numbers have been consistent for months.  Even factoring in the DNC and RNC.

        There was never any money to be made here.  They have to create the narrative or we won't pay attention.

        "There are four boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order." Ed Howdershelt

        by Lava20 on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 10:18:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  i am not talking about silver and the prediction (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          markets, i am talking about the raw polling. romney has improved after every debate, even the last two where he was destroyed.

          •  The (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Chitown Kev, wishingwell

            electoral map polls, especially market polls never really changed.  Too much would have to happen for Obama to loose on so many levels.

            But all they did was lie about polls, who won, CIC bullshit tests.

            Obama, African Americans, Democrats, early Obama supporters considered WP first.  He would have to pass that test before anything.  We all know that it wouldn't be fair, but he would damn near have to be perfect in every aspect in order to win anything.

            I remember when they appointed Michael Steel as RNC Pres.  Jon Stewart commented that it doesn't work with just any black guy.

            "There are four boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order." Ed Howdershelt

            by Lava20 on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 10:40:10 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Exactly my point (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lava20, EdSF

              Obama isn't simply any black guy...he's one of the exceptions for whom some...many white folks will suspend their rules...if he "acts right."

              Let's not forget, Obama received a greater percentage white votes than John Kerry or Al Gore...and maybe even Bill Clinton 1996.

              •  Yes (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                tytalus, Larsstephens

                but my point is that in the case of the debates, they made shit up.  The only way that I could consider WP in this is that it made the story amazing.  Republicans set the bar low also.

                But if you look at the markets and numbers, it was just drama.

                I don't think Obama did that bad.  But Chris Matthew morons wanted a show.  Rev. Sharpton was the only one saying he was amazed at how Romney flat out lied.  If you watch, Obama is amazingly wonkish.  But it is impossible to debate someone who lies with psychopathic ease.

                Obama is President and his nickname is no drama obama.  Not sure he could have handled that any differently.  

                "There are four boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order." Ed Howdershelt

                by Lava20 on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 11:17:21 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  BTW (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Great diary.  I agree with most of it.  Just think Obama needs special attention when talking about WP.

                Especially the new America is no longer racist because the president is black argument.

                WP has to be explained to most people because they just don't understand.  Libs are very frustrated with the Rights racist antics.  It is surprising to them.

                Nothing surprises me.  

                "There are four boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order." Ed Howdershelt

                by Lava20 on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 11:59:26 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  I (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                want to discuss more later.  I have twins who are hungry.

                "There are four boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order." Ed Howdershelt

                by Lava20 on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 12:02:28 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Clearly you aren't paying attention (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            to the ECVs.  That is what only matters in the end.

            "No, I'm being judged against the ideal. Joe Biden has a saying: 'Don't judge me against the Almighty, judge me against the alternative." --President Barack Obama, 12/11/11

            by smoothnmellow on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 10:50:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  That would suggest that... (0+ / 0-)

            it is a factor other than the debates that is improving his numbers. After all,  you did say that history has discounted the impact of the debates on candidate choice.

      •  Interestingly (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Supavash, wishingwell, EdSF

        I noticed that he's been doing a little better in Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina since the second debate.

        Number taking fully into account the third debate are still rolling in but he been trending back to near pre-first debate levels.

        •  Not With White People... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kpardue, teachme2night

          If you only look at a poll's toplines, then your missing the devilish details.

          the fact is, the only reason why this is a close race is that White people are coming home to their party - The GOP: America's White Peoples' Party.

          In OH and VA, the majority of White people are supporting Romney, and by no small margin. As the post debate polls clearly indicate, even though White people, reluctantly, agree that Obama won the previous two debates, their support for Romney has gone UP!

          Now I fully understand that so-called progressives are in denial as to the true nature of White support for the GOP, as to deal honestly with it would cause them far too much gut-wrenching soul searching. But if you're gonna cite polls indicating that Obama is winning this or that state, them you're gonna have to accept the fact that the crosstabs clearly indicate that the majority of White people want the RepubliKlan to be Pres, just as they have done in every presidential election since 1968.

          I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Republican Party.

          by OnlyWords on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 10:52:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  absolutely, the county level data for rural areas (0+ / 0-)

            in blue states is revealing this fact too.

            •  But rural areas in blue states (0+ / 0-)

              ( which are almost always all white) have always voted that way (as OnlyWords notes) we aren't talking anything new in that regard.

              •  the times and the guardian had some new data (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                showing an even larger skew. so yes, will that change outcomes, no? but if it is representative of a general trend--which I suggest it is--and I am not surprised btw, then the claim still stands.

                voters use different ways of making vote choices; race for low info white voters is part of that calculus and Romney is the beneficiary.

                •  In a way that McCain wasn't (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  peregrine kate, kpardue, EdSF

                  I will allow you that...I think Romney has been far more effective in exploiting white racial resentment than McCain.

                  However, I do have to look at past presidential elections as well to see if that claim holds...because the blue states in the Midwest aren't getting all that much more diverse when compared to say...the Southwest but the Midwest is absolutely Obama's firewall...and no state in the traditional Midwest has more than 15-17% of black people (Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin don't even have 5% of black people).

                  Race isn't the only variable...that might especially apply to the Midwest.

      •  But do note what I'm saying (0+ / 0-)

        I actually feel that the way in which the president has been able to express his anger still confirms your theory about white privilege.

  •  Uneducated whites (9+ / 0-)

    constitute the bulk of the swing toward Romney after the first debate.  Ironically these are the folk who are going to suffer if Romney actually gets elected (which I doubt, btw) and manages to destroy ACA, Medicare, and the budget.

    Barack Obama is not a secret socialist class warrior who wants to redistribute wealth in America. But I'll still vote for him, anyway.

    by looty on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 10:15:46 AM PDT

    •  the masses are asses back to bacon's rebellion (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      to the present.

    •  It's more about the Tea Party holdouts (0+ / 0-)

      coming home. Most of these republican holdouts became independent because they were embarrassed to associate themselves with Bush. And thus far they considered Romney too wussy to pal up to. But after Romney won his shout-down in the first debate that's all they really needed. They just needed to hear "tax cuts" along with "make black man look bad."

      There are two types of republicans, the rich and the stupid. The rich ones strive to keep the stupid ones stupid and the stupid ones strive to keep the rich ones rich.

      by frankzappatista on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 10:46:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, NO! It's Not "Uneducated Whites" who (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      constitute the bulk of the swing toward Romney...

      In 2008, the majority of White college grads (51%) voted for Palensanity, and I see no indication that it will be any different this year. For instance, take Ohio. This poll indicates that on Sept 26, Whites w/o a college degree supported Obama by 46%. On Oct 22, Obama's support from this group had dropped only 1%. Over this same period, Romney's support with this group remained at 49%. However, Whites with a college degree over this period showed plenty-plenty movement - away from Obama. On Sept 26, this group supported Obama by 48%, but on Oct 22, it had dropped to 43%. Romney's support from Whites w/ a college degree over this period rose  from 49% to 54%.

      So actually, in Ohio at least, Whites with a college degree support Romney more than Whites w/o a college degree do.

      So to all those who rec'ed the "Uneducated Whites" comment - Time To Embrace The Horror! Stop Living In Denial! The GOP is America's White Peoples Party!!!

      No amount of denial by so-called progressives can hide the fact that the majority of White people vote RepubliKlan - from coast-to-coast and from border-to-border. Middle-Class Whites. Whites with College Degrees. White Women. Gen-X, Baby-Boomers, and Seniors. IOW - White people vote RepubliKlan. Period.

      Come on. Be real. Who else would vote RepubliKlan...

      I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Republican Party.

      by OnlyWords on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 11:25:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Let me just point out (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that the same exit poll you're citing mentions 58% of whites with no college education voted for McCain. At any rate, the 'white people's party' is not this white fellow's party. I can be somewhat contrarian at times.

        "Governor Romney doesn't have a five-point plan, he has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules." -- President Obama

        by tytalus on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 11:44:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I (6+ / 0-)

    just can't say it is white privilege in this case.  Only because the media and politics are involved.

    They need to make this a horserace.  They needed to change the narrative or no one would watch.  

    Too many other factors.

    Now there is a lot of shit going on to explain the numbers.

    But if you read the polls, and looks at the odds, this nonsense is narratives created by the media and racists in order to make money.

    "There are four boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order." Ed Howdershelt

    by Lava20 on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 10:16:45 AM PDT

  •  This is a subject that scares a lot of people, (11+ / 0-)

    because a lot of people don't really understand, even when they are actually guilty of it.  I have been saying this for four years.  I have been saying that Obama being elected President wasn't the true test of our values as Americans.  It's his re-election that would be the tipping point.

    If Obama, in the face of all that has been blown against him, in the face of excelling in everything that has been thrown at him with very few stumbles, can win re-election, I will once again have hope that my life as an African American isn't doomed to failure and mediocrity.  I mean, if Obamam with all of his accomplishments, gets treated like this, what does that say for the rest of us?

    •  cosign, you and i have been thinking the same (4+ / 0-)

      thing for months, many millions of black folks and other people of color feel the same way. sadly, his not being reelected may be a very low point for relations across the color line.

      •  Black voter turnout is going to be higher this (4+ / 0-)

        time than in 2008.  I don't think a lot of white voters, even those who support Obama, realize that the way he is being treated, and the state of race relations in this country because of it, actually hurts.  When I see the media doing what they have done to Obama, it actually hurts me as a black person.  It also makes me angry.  That's how I know that we will be voting in big numbers.

        That being said, Obama wouldn't even be close in this race if there weren't white voting for him, so some people really do get it.  It's just that there are more white Americans don't get it than those who do.

      •  I agree. I have felt that way for a long time. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It's probably why I tend to be more negative even with slightly good numbers in the polls. It hurt to see Romney surge after lying, this would not have happened in any election with two white men. He would have been called out on it in the media. I just have this feeling that even with the odds in the president favor, the fact that its so close could just turn Romneys way on Election Day. With all that's he's accomplish it's sad to see it diminish in the media.

        "I'm not mad at them (tea party) for being loud, I'm mad at us for being silent for the last two years. Where have we been"? "it was never yes HE can, it was Yes WE can". - Van Jones

        by sillycilla on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 10:35:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I refuse to accept this comment (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FiredUpInCA, tytalus, wishingwell

      from the diarist:

      White privilege will not allow him to be reelected to the office.
      Though your follow on does give me pause. I certainly agree with you both, but I refuse to accept the apparent defeat of the original comment.

      Obama CAN win. If we get off this diary and out on the streets for him, that is!

      "I can't do it by myself. No president can. Remember: Change doesn't happen from the top. It happens because of you." B Obama, 2008

      by nzanne on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 10:21:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, I don't agree with THAT part, but I do (9+ / 0-)

        think that Obama's reelection means more, especially to black people like me, than his election.  I wanted to see if Obama would get 8 years to fix an economy it took Bush 8 years to destroy.  I wanted to see if this country would take note of the abject disrespect of this President who is basically loved by the rest of the world, and vote accordingly.  I wanted to see if some white voters would be so desperate to get rid of Obama that they would vote for ANYONE.  To me, if there is a candidate that counts as ANYONE, its Romney.  The policies the GOP are pushing now as a part of their agenda would have been considered unacceptable just a few years ago.  Now, white voters across this country are pretending as if the GOP really won't do what they're saying they will do.

    •  I have been saying it all my life.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stellaluna, teachme2night

      ...all of my children's lives. I always told them (they are African American and Puerto Rican) that they better not screw up because brown children only get ONE chance. This isn't fair. This isn't right. But it is reality.

      If anybody by rights ought to be a follower of Ayn Rand--it is successful people of color. Talk about exceptionalism. And yet many (white) people will credit their success to Affirmative Action. Look at what people like Trump and Sununu. I mean how stupid (or racist) do you have to be to not be able to recognize intelligence in a man like Barack Obama?

    •  I see it as more than being about race (0+ / 0-)
      I mean, if Obamam with all of his accomplishments, gets treated like this, what does that say for the rest of us?
      It means that all of us are treated like this. We're chattel, consumers and laborers to the gilded classes, and offering no value to the lower classes beyond the ability to cash in on the Snooki / Honey Boo Boo lottery of fleeting fame. Harvard Law School? That's for losers.

      "A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself." - Joseph Pulitzer

      by CFAmick on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 10:32:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I see the 2008 election regarding race similar (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      to the willingness of white people to invite "a black man" to dinner.  A thing they are proud of and that superficially looks post-racial. I see the re-election however controlled by the same white people throwing the china away after dinner.  It was never really not about race. And people were willing to elect him as long as they could pretend he was white.  But the attitudes were there. And his election has raised awareness and focus on those attitudes rather than diminished them.

      "Speak the TRUTH, even if your voice shakes."

      by stellaluna on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 11:01:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  DON"T PANIC! President Obama will win reelection. (5+ / 0-)

    I'm not sure why you're so dejected right now.

    I'm a white, southern, male (North Carolinian) and Barack Obama is the first President I am proud to call  'My President' for the first time in my life.

    NC may flip red again this election, but overall, I'm confident that the President will prevail. I'm hoping we pull it out and stay Blue this year. The important thing is making sure Mitt Romney remains unemployed.

    -6.38, -6.21: Lamented and assured to the lights and towns below, Faster than the speed of sound, Faster than we thought we'd go, Beneath the sound of hope...

    by Vayle on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 10:20:16 AM PDT

    •  I agree (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tytalus, Vayle, wishingwell

      I'm sorry, Chauncey. I usually like your posts but I am not as pessimistic as you and am rather confident Obama will be reelected. Romney has improved some yes but not in all areas where it matters. He's still stinks among Latinos and he hasn't moved the needle enough in areas like Virginia (women) and especially Ohio. He improved in NC and FL but both are still very close.

      •  i would rather be realistic if not pessimistic (0+ / 0-)

        and then be pleasantly surprised.

        •  I can respect preparing for the worst, but (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tytalus, wishingwell, kpardue

          don't let preparing yourself for a possible negative overwhelm you into a defeatist stance.

          And on that note, let's not worry so much that we snatch defeat from the jaws of victory either. I'd rather not slip into old Democratic Party bad habits if we can help it.

          -6.38, -6.21: Lamented and assured to the lights and towns below, Faster than the speed of sound, Faster than we thought we'd go, Beneath the sound of hope...

          by Vayle on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 10:35:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  You Realize That You're A Distict Minority, Vayle (0+ / 0-)


      In 2008, only 32% Of White Males in NC voted for Obama.

      If not for the record non-White turnout in 2008, Obama would have lost.

      Reality bites, does it not?

      I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Republican Party.

      by OnlyWords on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 11:33:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wow, Preachy. I acknowledged that NC may well flip (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tytalus, WB Reeves

        red again.

        NC may flip red again this election, but overall, I'm confident that the President will prevail. I'm hoping we pull it out and stay Blue this year. The important thing is making sure Mitt Romney remains unemployed.
        I live here. I damn well know what many people are like. And I don't like it, or them especially if they can't keep it to themselves..

        I was not raised as they were. That is something I am not sorry about in the least. I don't make the assumption that 'everyone' thinks as I do. I know they don't.

        Before you start pointing to reality, look at the whole country and all of the data before condescending to me about the reality of the NC vote and President Obama's chances.

        The reality is, President Obama has solid reelection chances with or without NC voting blue this time. I'd prefer NC remain blue, but I'll take the national win over the state level win and call it a good day when it happens.

        -6.38, -6.21: Lamented and assured to the lights and towns below, Faster than the speed of sound, Faster than we thought we'd go, Beneath the sound of hope...

        by Vayle on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 12:06:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Not even just the debates. Mitt Romney has barely (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stellaluna, teachme2night

    Done any tv shows or interviews with hard questioning. Hardly vetted and the media is aware of his flip flopping, the American people are as well yet he could still win. The president has been president for 4 years and still has to prove more than mitt why he deserves a chance while mitt just coasts.

    "I'm not mad at them (tea party) for being loud, I'm mad at us for being silent for the last two years. Where have we been"? "it was never yes HE can, it was Yes WE can". - Van Jones

    by sillycilla on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 10:25:28 AM PDT

  •  Strong Component, No Doubt About It. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Supavash, Chitown Kev, wishingwell

    But the polling is trending back; it did tighten after the 1st debate but even gallup is now backing away. So the other 2 debates have nudged Obama into a 70% chance of re-election.

    The biggest privilege-related doubt voters had was whether Romney could and would fight him. The 1st debate proved that, and he improved in polling, but the next 2 did not help him in the polls no matter how hard the RW media claim they did.

    There are several stories on this site today indicating the polling is back to where it was before both the debates and the conventions.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 10:26:58 AM PDT

  •  Hey if the debates mattered so much John Kerry (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    would be wrapping up his second term now. I think O really didn`t look passionate enough in debate # 1 and it certainly cost him some swing voters. But to blame the tight race solely on his being black is a bit much. I`m sure race is a factor but it is coupled with equal doses of a press that wants a horse race, people that are truly disappointed about the job numbers and voters that just don`t pay too much attention. Let`s face it, there aren`t many voters who really dig deeply into what the two parties stand for (otherwise there would be just one party)

    Politics is like driving.... (D) forward, (R) reverse.

    by Tribecastan on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 10:38:45 AM PDT

    •  my argument isn't a single variable (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Egalitare, Lovepolitics2008

      claim; this is part of a complex dynamic that many voters are using to make a calculation. especially, low info, undecideds. when in doubt go with what you consciously or subconsciously know. race is a huge part of that for white voters.

      •  OK I`ll buy that... (0+ / 0-)

        Sorry to say I am one of those white guys that needs constant reminding of just how complex and subtle racism can be. After reading most of your comments here I appreciate the time you have taken to address everyones arguments. Low informed people don`t just skew politics, they also hinder society as a whole. During this intense political period I sometimes lose sight of the even larger picture. Peace to you Chauncey

        Politics is like driving.... (D) forward, (R) reverse.

        by Tribecastan on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 12:20:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Agree and disagree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WB Reeves

      The impact of the first debate was, frankly, surprising if not seen at least somewhat through the lens of racism.

      The right wing has spent the last four years making racist claims about Obama - "lazy", "dumb", "doesn't deserve to be where he is", "illegitimate", you name it, all racially-themed attacks.

      When Obama had a bad night the first debate, in the eyes of some people (especially in the South...imagine that), I think it "confirmed" those racist notions.  It couldn't be that Romney's spent the last four years campaigning and doing nothing but debate prep, and it couldn't be that President Obama has a hell of a lot on his plate, and everyone has a bad day once in a while.  Nope, had to be an ingrained "character" flaw.

      Now, does that mean attacks that a bad debate could confirm have to be race-based?  Far from it; one can paint a white guy as being weak, and if he goes into a debate and doesn't defend himself, it might confirm what critics have been saying.  In this case, though, the attacks HAVE tapped into racial stereotypes.

      All that said, I don't think racism is the whole story:  Romney had a rep as being a loser coming into the debate, and many people expected the President to mop the floor with him.  The contrast between those expectations and the reality of the first debate also likely made an impact.

  •  Willard's a bully. When a bully is bested, he's (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chitown Kev

    less fearsome. So, that's an improvement.
    Dubya, I would argue, was perceived as the less-threatening alternative. His candidacy created the impression of less danger. Indeed, Rachel Maddow compared Dubya's pre-election pronouncements with Willard's more moderate tone and they are very similar. Rachel also made the point that the punitive coterie is the same. Dubya might not have wanted to invade Iraq, but Cheney certainly did and so did McCain.
    The cons are still about attacking someone else to create the perception that Americans are exceptions.
    Just as nobody bothered to ask who "them" was in the pronouncement that, "we'll fight them over there, so we don't have to fight them over here," nobody specifies what Americans are to be excepted from. That it's the austerity agenda of the cons isn't mentioned. "American exceptionalism" is a euphemism. What it says is, "Americans are exempt from abuse, if they do what they're told."

    We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 10:42:58 AM PDT

  •  WTH are you talking about? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You need to do a little more research before you declare with any certainty that no white people will be voting for Obama this year.

    This is utterly ridiculous.  White privilege not withstanding -- quit with this non sense.  This is not the way to make a point about this issue.

    "No, I'm being judged against the ideal. Joe Biden has a saying: 'Don't judge me against the Almighty, judge me against the alternative." --President Barack Obama, 12/11/11

    by smoothnmellow on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 10:48:34 AM PDT

  •  "Subsidization of White Mediocrity" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peregrine kate

    I know it well.

    My father got laid off from his teaching job in the early 50s due to district consolidation, and went to work with his Masters in Education to what was then Newport News Shipbuilding. He figured he'd wait until another teaching job opened up while he worked at an entry level tool inventory job.

    A couple years later, a teaching job indeed did open up, but he discovered that he would make $500 less a year going back to the classroom than he did in "the Yard." ($500 may not sound like much, but he was making $5800 a year at the time) He stayed a total of 41 years (my mother started her career teaching soon after he started at "the Yard" and it was only in his last two years of employment that her base pay exceeded his!!), and during the first half of his time there he had "pigment-challenged" supervisors, most of whom may or may not have finished 8th grade.

    When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 10:48:52 AM PDT

  •  If everything else was the same, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    except the Prez was a white man, he'd be a great deal further ahead, I agree with that.

    I do disagree with you on this, though - Barack Obama will be re-elected.  The polls are slowly beginning to trend Obama's way. And figures I saw out of Ohio this morning have convinced me of it.

    According to the Time poll yesterday, of those who have already voted in Ohio, Obama leads Romnwy 60% to 30%.  Of those who haven't yet voted, Obama and Romney are tied 45% each.

    Advantage - Obama

    If Romney can't win Ohio, he's done.

  •  Obama is Much Better than Romney (0+ / 0-)

    Obama is so much better than Romney that I predict he will still pull off a victory despite his racial disadvantages.

  •  Of course you are right about white Privlege and (4+ / 0-)

    its subsidizing mediocre or sub-par white men. In any race-blind world Mitt Romney would have never heard the gun go off.
    I can't agree that white privilege won't let him be reelected though I agree they will do everything they can. I believe the assault on women makes it possible that the President can still win. I also believe that, even though he is white, Mitt Romney's "otherness" --from religion, to wealth, to personality makes him defeatable.  He has a clear advantage in his skin and it may very well be enough. But he still makes people uncomfortable.  His "wins" during the debate are in my opinion related to him seeming more "normal". They certainly have nothing to do with skill or substance. The "ick" factor, which Romney has and Obama doesn't might make it possible. Almost any other of the GOP primary candidates would be winning now because they don't have the "ick" factor.

    I also disagree on the severity of the President's loss in the first debate. Firstly, it could only be called a loss if you completely ignore substance. But to me most importantly, it was a loss because the President always has to do exponentially better than his opponent to break even.  Appearing less than perfect was enough for people to declare abject failure. Chris Matthews, who excoriated the President for his performance barely mentioned an even worse one by Romney in the third debate. That to me is white privilege. The ability to be less than perfect (or even bad) and be forgiven for it.  Judging the President by a white man's standard in the first debate would have given him a win.

    "Speak the TRUTH, even if your voice shakes."

    by stellaluna on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 10:54:44 AM PDT

    •  romney is even closing the gap with women (0+ / 0-)


      Obama lost--the debates are about style over substance. That first one Obama was distracted by something either going on in the world or was just tired and perhaps baffled by Romney's post-truth style.

      In the red states, Romney's religion was hurting him a bit, that is now past and those states are solidly republican to begin with.

      Matthews is an interesting guy--often right on point, other times very confusing.

      •  Yes, I agree he "lost" but the over reaction to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Chitown Kev

        the loss is what I think is race related. I completely agree about closing the gap with women. What I fear is that the gap was never that large.  I think the religion, etc. which I call "ick" will not carry the race alone.  But in a race that will be so close, though it shouldn't be, I think it keeps the President in the game. Clearly there is enthusiasm to vote against the President among many. And there is absolutely nothing to be done about that. But among the less impassioned I think it matters. And almost any other candidate wouldn't have had that problem. His campaign realizes it now. The less people see of him the better he does.

        "Speak the TRUTH, even if your voice shakes."

        by stellaluna on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 11:19:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I don't think this is the reason... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WB Reeves

    ...except on a meta basis, which is obviously important but at some point it's meaningless.  I think the proximate cause of Romney's improvement over the last few weeks is that some number of essentially Republican voters (who are White, because only Whites are Republican in non-negligible numbers) were led to believe that Romney was a uniquely stupid person: to a remarkable extent, Democrats successfully defined him as such.  The debates, as poorly as Romney did two out of three times, showed that he was only generically Republican-stupid, rather than anything totally out of whack with what Republicanism has been for 30 years.  Those White (and, as I've said, essentially Republican) voters, who were initially disinclined to identify with Romney because they thought he was the exception, have now embraced him because it turns out he's more like the rule.  

    So I don't think it's White Privilege in the sense that otherwise malleable White voters are forgiving the shortcomings of the White candidate because his opponent is Black; rather (and here's the meta), it's that many White voters are unwilling to identify with a political party that has embraced Black people.  We all know that's the sole reason for Republican hegemony in the South, but we often fail to grasp the substantial weight it carries in the continued viability of Republicanism elsewhere.

    Romney '12: Berlusconi without the sex and alcohol!

    by Rich in PA on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 11:05:47 AM PDT

  •  My students taught me about white privilege - (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tytalus, peregrine kate

    I taught high school sociology for many years in a predominantly working class area with a significant amount of diversity. In those classes we dealt with race relations. Fortunately, in most of them we were able to establish a safe place to discuss our feelings, beliefs, attitudes and values in a respectful manner apply sociological concepts, terms and research to them. Ground rules were to listen, accept that others were sincere in what they said and attempt to understand.

    thhis led to some of the most remarkable experiences of my teaching career of over thirty years. I thought I knew something about race and race relations and probably was a little smug about how liberal my views were as I began, but I learned so much from my students over the years. I was humbled as I began to see the complexity and depth of the the dynamics involved. I came to realize how much I did not understand and that real limits existed to how much could learned deductively about race.

    One thing that I heard repeatedly over the years primarily from Black students, was that their parents pounded into their heads the fact of unfairness things, but prepared thme for it by saying they simply had to be better warning them that they would not get all the credit they deserved for their acheivements. Most them described it as fact of life.

    These parents wanting to equip their children to be successful and competitive, were saying to them be tough and accept that you simply will have to be better even be seen as equal or close to it. It would seem the Barack Obama must have learned this early on. It drives us crazy that he accepts and takes in stride so much that is obvious race based and just goes about the business of being better. He knows it is not fair, but it is what it is, at least for now. He just tries to be enough better to still win in an unfair system. So far, he has done pretty well don't you think?

    If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living. - Gail Sheehy

    by itisuptous on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 11:07:43 AM PDT

  •  You used the word 'privilege' (0+ / 0-)

    I think the word you meant to use is 'stupidity'.

    You can call it "class warfare" -- we call it "common sense"

    by kenlac on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 11:15:28 AM PDT

  •  Obama's thoughtful seriousness about being POTUS.. (0+ / 0-) him enough credibility to embarrass and outshine "privileged mediocrity" among his various caucasian opponents. Somewhere between 40 - 42% of registered voters are going to vote against a Democratic President in good times or bad.  And when you add-in the poor state of the economy since early 2008, worsening Federal finances (outsized deficits, bailouts, hyped-up concerns about the long-term solvency of Medicare and Social Security), and so-called political gridlock (because Main Stream Media journalists are afraid & unwilling to call obstructionism for what it is) in DC---all of it was going to combine to make this a difficult reelection effort for Obama regardless of whom the Republicans selected (apart from perhaps Rick Perry or Ron Paul, of course). From that perspective he's already beaten the odds to be this close to reelection.

  •  I consider President Obama to be the best (0+ / 0-)

    President in my lifetime. I am a 60 year old white woman and to me he puts the last 48 years  of Presidents in the shadows. I too agonize over whether he will be re-elected because I think his second term will be even better. As a person I totally love his smile, charm and decency.

    During the first election there was much worrying over whether white people would say one thing in a poll and vote differently. I bet you millions of words were written on the subject...
    As for the polls, I think that maybe there is an effort to depress black voters with a seemingly backward movement by whites...

    But I am in knots and sleepless worrying myself. So much so that I vow next election to back off from being too involved... I guess at 64 it will be time to let the younger generation push for what they want and need. But I love me some BHO. To be so close to an unprincipaled disgusting sociopath.

    How can you tell when Rmoney is lying? His lips are moving. Fear is the Mind Killer

    by boophus on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 11:22:05 AM PDT

  •  also remember... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tytalus, WB Reeves

    there was a little debate about Benghazi going on the time of the second debate as well with which the Republicans were scoring points until Obama put a stop to that,

    Race A factor? Of course.

    The sole factor? NO, and I can never believe that because the man would not have been elected in the first place if it were the sole factor.

  •  I hesitated to comment (0+ / 0-)

    because I see little point in debating prophecy.

    I do have question though. Since your prediction of Obama's defeat is based on a particular assessment white privilege and its importance in US culture, if your prediction turns out to be false, will that falsify your assessment?

    It seems to me that you may have painted yourself into a theoretic corner. If Obama's defeat would validate your perspective, then an Obama victory would seem to confirm the opposite.

    Nothing human is alien to me.

    by WB Reeves on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 05:17:50 PM PDT

    •  interesting (0+ / 0-)

      We shall see. One claim does not preclude the other. You also assume I am playing 2 dimensional chess when I may be playing another game.

      Fair questions though...remember, Obama can win and has won despite white supremacy, the white racial frame, and white privilege.

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