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November 9, 2008 / JV

Post-Election Post: Bradley Effect Who? and Which Way Obama Should Lean

[One announcement for the good of the order: My display name is now the black scientist, it was soltrane. We are the same person. Ok, that is all.]

So, I feel obligated to write some sort of follow-up blog to such a historic election. Particularly one that took up the majority — if not all — of my free time. Needless to say, I’ve been going through severe campaign withdrawal. I find myself feeling a lot like Sasha did on election day.

obsdaughter1
I don’t know that discussing Obama’s latest cabinet pick will be as exciting as doing the McCain robot with friends or laughing at the fact that Palin can’t say nuclear. But life goes on…

The Bradley Effect seemed to have little to no bearing in this election (nor did it in the primaries). The Bradley Effect is the tendency among some white voters to tell pollsters they are undecided or likely to vote for the black candidate, but they end up voting for the white candidate on election day. The Effect references the 1982 California Governor’s Race when black Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley was running ahead in the polls and unexpectedly lost. (It also held true in the 1983 Chicago mayor’s race (although Harold Washington ended up winning, it was by a much smaller margin than expected), and a similar situation happened in the 1989 New York City mayor’s race with David Dinkins.)
The fact that this didn’t occur with Obama may say something about the consolidation of certain social norms and our adherence to them. It is suspected that people lie to conceal their bias if it is against an established social norm (in this case, the norm would be against racism – or a “norm of equality”). Perhaps we are at a point in the history of this country when racism is actually socially unacceptable. Although I think this is only true for racism expressed in particular ways (ie “I can’t vote for Obama because — he’s an Arab!”). Now, there’s stupid racism and sophisticated racism. Using the n-word will make you look ignorant and “old-fashioned” but using discriminatory employment practice will make you pragmatic. This is the new millennium. Get modern.

Anyway, now that Obama is president-elect, I’ve talked to a couple of people who say he’ll have to “move to the center” in order to please the public and not alienate the Democratic Party. I disagree. I think now is the ideal time to implement policy that in other times may seem too “liberal”. At the time of his inauguration, he will not only be unbelievably popular, but he will be inheriting an ailing capitalist system. I think it would be in his interest to turn the tactics of the Bush administration’s disaster capitalism into a form of disaster socialism. Bush used disasters to implement lawless policies that probably never would have gained enough momentum to pass in “times of peace” (i.e. the USA PATRIOT Act in the wake of 9-11-2001 which basically eroded U.S. civil liberties). Obama can use a similar strategy. Perhaps the answer to the financial crisis isn’t a billion dollar bailout but the de-privatization of banks (which Bush surprisingly has already started: “corporate socialism”), universal health care, and oh i dunno, maybe public housing?

Let’s see what happens.

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4 Comments

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  1. brownblackandqueer / Nov 9 2008 12:53 pm

    I agree that it’s a very strategic time to implement disaster socialism (thanks for that term). But I don’t think it’s necessary just going to happen by the grace of the gods, just because we did it, we got Obama in office. Now more than ever it’s important for progressive people to be involved. The battle has not been won. Change has not happened yet. We need to stand up and continue to declaring what we want, what we envision for our president elect. Currently, Obama and his aides are planning their first months in the White House. They haven’t exactly made decisive plans, like whether they’ll tackle health care, the environment and energy all at the same time or stagger them. Now that they’re in that process, we can have our biggest influence. If Obama is to be the president of the people, the people need to be present, informed and active.

  2. Elián Maricón / Mar 1 2009 8:10 pm

    First I voted for Obama.

    So don’t hate me please :)

    But what on earth gave you the impression he would do anything BUT move to the center? He’s essentially a center-right President, and he gave every indication that he would be at least a centrist during the campaign. He’s just so brilliant that he can phrase anything in such a manner that one will hear what one wants to hear despite the content beneath the rhetoric.

    Curious what you think about Obama’s lurch to the center-right (esp in foreign policy) since you wrote this post. Or do you think he hasn’t done so?

  3. the black scientist / Mar 2 2009 4:21 pm

    yo elian :)

    has he lurched to the center-right? i haven’t gotten that impression, but at the same time, i can’t claim to have been following very closely. what exactly are you referring to? i’m aware that he suspended trials and drafted a plan to close down gitmo. and i believe he ended restrictions on federal funding for abortion.. but i wouldn’t consider either of these center-right issues.

    i’m aware that obama uses the rhetoric of a ‘centrist’ president and even emulates some center politics ideals (ie ‘working across party lines’), but i tend to consider that mostly political strategy. but maybe i’m falling intro the trap of reading him how i want him to be read, although i’d like to think that’s not the case.

  4. Elián Maricón / Mar 5 2009 11:32 pm

    Hey doc!

    Here is a link to a list of articles by Dr. Paul Street, a historian who has been following Obama’s career for some time. He recently published a book about Obama: http://www.zmag.org/zsearch/search/?next=1

    Here are a couple of places to start:
    ht*tp://www.blackagendareport.com/?q=content/obamas-violin-whos-playing-whos-being-played
    ht*tp://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/20425
    h*ttp://www.blackagendareport.com/?q=content/obama-leave-50000-troops-iraq-indefinitely
    h*ttp://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/20317
    h*ttp://www.blackagendareport.com/?q=content/obama-administration-and-wall-street-predators-target-%E2%80%9Centitlement-reform%E2%80%9D

    Oh, and that stuff about raising campaign $ from the grassroots? Lies.
    Check this out: ht*tp://www.gaysagainstobama.org/2009/03/passion-of-obama.html

    I’d be interested in hearing your take on some of the issues raised, esp re: the claims about Obama’s conservative history and the plan to continue occupying Iraq indefinitely.

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