Voting FOR someone because of their race

This was mentioned extensively in another thread and I felt it deserved its own.

If someone voted *against *a candidate because of his race, we’d probably call it racism, but is it right or wrong to vote *for *a candidate because of his race?
Is it different if a minority voter votes for a minority candidate because of race, than if a white voter votes for a white candidate because of race?

Sorry, wrong link!!!

Here is the thread I was referring to:

Voting for someone because of their race is acceptable in the sense that you may feel that someone of your own race understands your point of view/culture and has your best interests in mind.

Voting against someone because of their race is not acceptable and is racist.

Was it okay for white voters to vote for McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012 because of race?

I put it right up there with voting for a woman because you’re a woman, or not because you’re a man, or voting for someone because you both went to the same high school, or because he/she is the taller/better looking/sexier candidate, or voting a straight party line. In an ideal world, one should vote for the candidate who you believe will do the best job.

Look - I made a joke!!! :rolleyes:

Seriously, I weep for this nation - too many people vote for totally inane reasons. And, frankly, I don’t see where we have very good choices anyway. But that’s another thing entirely.

This is why I have a system to offset all the ding dongs. For men I vote based on their sock color and for women I vote based on their earrings.

The claim that black people voted for Obama just because he’s black is something of a strawman. Black people voted for Obama because they felt he would be more attuned to the interests of black voters. It’s a subtle but significant difference.

If Bill Clinton and Alan Keyes were running against each other, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a majority of black voters choosing Clinton.

Vote for whoever you want, for whatever reason you want. It’s all “okay.” But, if you tell me that you voted for or against a person because of what he/she looks like, then I’d think your judgment is pretty damned flawed.

I disagree with this, at least I think I do. I would say that voting for someone based on race on the assumption that they therefore through that alone they would understand your POV/culture etc. is still problematic. Race alone doesn’t seem like a great indicator of that.

If someone voted on those grounds based on race plus upbringing plus background plus associations plus etc., then I’d think that less of a problem, though not a substitution for looking into their voting histories/campaign promises/manifestos and so on too. Though of course trying to understand the kind of person they are is also important.

This doesn’t make sense.

If I vote for candidate A because he understands my point of view/culture and has my best interests in mind, then I am by definition not voting for candidate B for the inverse reason; presumably that he does not understand my point of view/culture as well and would not have my best interests in mind.

If only one of the same race can represent the interests of that race, and the USA is a majority-white country, then Obama cannot represent the interests of the majority as well as a white guy. Therefore only white men should be elected.


Race should never be a factor. If it comes down to that for me, I’ll have to punt.

No, it’s not okay.

This is also true.

I see it much the way you do, and probably more or less agree with SicksAte.

Basing any decision on race is the very definition of racism. It doesn’t matter which way it cuts. Blacks favoring blacks is equally racist as whites favoring whites. (For that matter, whites favoring blacks is still racist.)

However, basing a voting decision on a candidate’s ability to represent you, and using their background and culture as a factor there… that’s not racism. I’d argue that it’s just good voting behavior. The whole point of voting is to pick someone who will represent your interests. It’s a representative democracy.

Now… in America, there’s often an idea that culture and race are somehow inextricably tied together. You might not be able to tell from voting patterns whether someone is racist or if they’re just picking someone with shared values. Racism isn’t something that can be determined from a ballot alone.

Voting for a white person because you think white people are smarter/better at being president is racist. Voting for a white person because you’re afraid a president who happens to be black will help black people and not white people is not racist, but it’s still very stupid. Voting for a person who happens to be white over a candidate who happens to be black because you think the first guy has better positions is not racist, unless one of those positions is something like “black people are inferior and should be treated poorly”.

And all the same is true for a black candidate. But there’s a few more situations that would be different for a black candidate, and fit for 2008 – voting for a black candidate because there’s never been one before, and you think it’s time we have a black president, and this guy is qualified enough to pass muster, is not racist. You may or may not agree whether this is a smart vote, but it’s not racist – just like deciding that it’s time Star Trek has a black starship (or star base!) captain, and picking the best black actor to play him, is not racist. Because black people are equally intrinsically capable of serving as President or starship captain, and when there’s never been a black president/starship captain before, it’s entirely not racist (and entirely reasonable, in my view) to look at the candidates and say “this guy/girl is qualified to be president/starship captain actor and he/she’s black, and it’s past time for a black president/starship captain, so I’m choosing him/her”.

For the record, I voted for Obama because I agreed with him on policies far, far more than his opponents. I also thought it was past time for a black president. I also thought he was a better campaigner than Hillary and would be more likely to win the national election. Those are the reasons I voted for him.

I disagree, it is racist. You’re essentially saying being black is an attribute for presidency. It’s not, no more than being white is an attribute.

I get that, given the history of race in America, that it’s nice symbolically to have a black person in the highest office. But, to elect a person for that reason is to make distinctions based on race. Making such distinctions is the root of the problem.

You don’t vote in a vacuum. If you vote for one person because of their race, then you are not voting for other people because of their race.

So we disagree. I see it like the black captain on Star Trek – it was past time, and that’s a reasonable (and non-racist) judgment to make, if the guy is qualified for the job.