Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Oprah on Obama

Looks like my blog is turning into Obama Central...

I just saw this video at Jack and Jill Politics. There are a number of juicy sound-bites, but my favorite is this:

I would never vote for anyone based on gender or race. I'm not voting for Barack Obama because he's black; I'm voting for Barack Obama because he's brilliant!

3 comments:

Brian Beech said...

I'm not buying her statement for a second! How many other candidates has she EVER backed like this?

Sandalstraps said...

Brian,

You're right - she's never been this politically active before. But she's not saying that her political activity on behalf of Barack Obama isn't something new; she's saying that it isn't because he's black.

There is a great deal more to Barack Obama than the color of his skin, which I'm sure you know. He's managed to inspire people who have long been disenchanted with politics. If you look at the voter turnout in primaries that he's won, you'll see a few striking things. First, turnout is extremely high. Second, the demographics don't match what we're used to.

The least politically active group in America isn't defined by race or gender; it is defined by age. Across the board, throughout our history, 18-29 year-olds by and large don't vote. This has been a sad fact in my existence, because, of course, I'm still in that demographic; so I've always belonged to an apathetic block of voters who can't get the attention of politicians. Hence the willingness of so many on both sides of the political isle to mortgage the future for short-term gains.

But in this election cycle that group, the too often indifferent and apathetic, disillusioned youth, are turning out in droves for Barack Obama. Why?

Simply put, he inspires. As one person (I think it was Michael Westmoreland-White) put it, when he speaks he scratches an itch we never knew we had.

There have been black candidates for president before. Oprah didn't back them the way she back Obama. I can say that race plays no factor whatsoever in her attraction to him, but if it were the only or even primary reason she's behind him, she would have thrown her considerable (metaphorical) weight behind Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, or, better yet, Carol Mosely Braun.

Race may play a role. I can't say that it doesn't. But I can say that it seems neither necessary nor sufficient.

Anonymous said...

Well, regardless of what one thinks of Obama, I think it's extremely offensive to say that Oprah is only stumping for him because he's black. Would we say the same of a white celebrity who chose to endorse McCain?

Oprah and Obama have a lot in common that goes beyond skin tone: core Democrat values, Chicago love, and a strong populist streak.

--Heather