If I say "identity politics," what comes to mind?
It sounds so faculty lounge (no disrespect to the faculty). But the question is: how big a part of your life and your vote is what you are, as opposed to perhaps, what you do? How important to your vote is being: African-American, Latino, a woman, a senior citizen, Jewish, Muslim, a Christian, a military veteran, a southerner, a European-American — as opposed to an oil company executive, a lobbyist, a police officer? What's the critical factor in your decision on how to vote?
That was a big part of the conversation we had today. We started with a conversation with two people who have flipped the script — crossed identity lines as it were. James T. Harris rose to fame (or infamy) last week, especially in the black community, when he told Sen. John McCain to "take it" to Sen. Barack Obama. Now, judging from the polls and the blogs many voters of whatever race already think that McCain has taken it too far and been overwhelmingly negative. Many blacks and whites see racial undertones in the criticisms of Obama. But Harris, an African-American, does not agree. John Martin is the founder of Republicans for Obama. We wondered what it's been like for each man as he has broken ranks as it were.
Speaking of breaking rank...
There's one group of people whom we feel we had not heard from — given that, for many people, the subtext of the use of Obama's middle name (Hussein) is to make him foreign sounding, relate him to Muslim terrorists — is Muslim Republicans. A Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) survey taken in 2000 said that that 70 percent of Muslim voters supported George W. Bush, but by 2004 the Muslim voters has shifted to Sen. John Kerry. And in a Pew survey taken in January of this year, only 8 percent of Muslim voters identified themselves as Republicans, compared with 17 percent two years earlier. What's happened? We wanted to know so we were happy to have three active Republicans of Muslim descent to give their take.
And of course, the B-shop guys batted around the third and final presidential debate, and the Great Schlep. If you don't know what that is, watch this and then listen to the guys talk about it. Warning: profanity is involved.
Have a good weekend!