Past Event

Whose Race Problem Is It?

After a long fought primary season, the Democrats have finally selected their
nominee for president, Barack Obama. This historic decision, presented as a
civil rights victory by most news outlets, has been surrounded in questions and
controversy about race. Political commentators say that chief among Obama’s
challenges is appealing to the "white vote," and many analysts have suggested
that he will need to make special efforts to win the vote of working class
whites and women more generally.

Some have suggested that Obama could work around this challenge by picking
Hillary Clinton as his vice presidential running mate since she had success with
these constituencies during the primary. Others have maintained that an
Obama/Clinton ticket would represent "politics as usual." And yet others think
that such a ticket would be seen as too liberal. Nonetheless, issues of race and
gender continue to be central themes of Obama’s campaign even after securing the

What does Obama’s primary victory mean for racial politics in the United
States? Is it as much of a material civil rights victory as it is a symbolic
victory? Should he go out of his way to appeal to voters who may not like him
based solely on his race? Or to earn the support of Democrats, especially women,
who might be more inclined to vote for McCain? Would an Obama-Clinton ticket
serve as a way to bridge this gap or only make it wider?

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