No sensible person can be unaware of the role in-grained
racism has played (and is playing) in the American political
It doesnt take much for a serious student of US
politics to locate the double standards in the politics
of the Republican Party.
The Republicans believe in little save getting elected.
Values can be sacrificed.
weeks article drew some interesting comments. I asserted
that in spite of the bump in the polls the Republican Party
received because of Governor Sarah Palins presence
on the ticket, ultimately the performance of the US
economy is likely to remain the key to the elections
This prediction has been substantiated by the events of
the US financial markets this week.
I also asserted that although racism is at work in the election,
it was difficult to see white Americans cutting off their
noses to spoil their faces, to which an ardent American
(well, he sounded American) responded:
out of American politics Mr Cudjoe, unless you have something
positive to contribute. If you want to see racism first
hand look no further than your backyard in T&T where
over 90 per cent of government employees are Afro-Trinidadians,
where Cepep and URP are basically a blacks-only club. I
wont go into further details of the negative and illicit
(?) contributions made by Afro-Trinidadians in the destruction
One can forego the observations about Afro-Trinidadians
and their illicit contributions although it is difficult
to see how illicit contributions lead to the destruction
of an island. Yet, no sensible person can be unaware of
the role ingrained racism has played (and is playing) in
the American political system.
Prior to the American Civil War (1861-1865), the three-fifths
clause of the American constitution in which every African
American was counted as three-fifths of a person for purposes
of the appointments of member to the House of Representatives,
resulted in most of the Presidents of the US being elected
because of this racial manoeuvre.
Race has never been a part of T&Ts constitution.
It is not embedded in our constitution nor is it a more
important factor than, say, religion in shaping our election
outcomes. In the US, it took the Voting Rights Act of 1965
to eliminate the pernicious requirement that prevented citizens
from voting because of their race and/or colour of their
Another reader zeroed in on the case with acuity when he
I envy your optimism. I hope your prediction is correct.
In Texas recently in conversation at a barbeque a white
woman said to me, Bob, Obama is smart but my ancestors
will turn in their grave if I voted for a N-----.
Even my white friends were astonished and embarrassed but
I suspect this is a deeper revelation of a fundamental part
of the American psyche.
This readers comments reveal a perplexing frame of
mind, although evidence suggests that Americans under the
age of 40 are shedding this fundamental racist outlook and
trust more to their humanitarian instincts. Herein lays
the hope for an Obama victory.
But Republican hypocrisy only perpetuates this cynicism
and continues to manipulate the racial categories as well.
I must confess that I thought little about Governor Palins
pregnant daughter until a cousin brought the contradiction
to my attention. The next day, Franck Rich of the New York
Times was on the case. Quoting Byron York of the National
Review, he acknowledged the Republican double standard:
the Obamas had a 17-year-old daughter who was unmarried
and pregnant by a tough-talking black kid, my guess is if
they all appeared on stage at a Democratic convention and
the delegates were cheering wildly, a number of conservatives
might be discussing the issue of dysfunctional black families.
It does not take much for any serious student of American
politics to locate the double standardsand yes, racismin
such a blatant about-face in the politics of the Republican
Party. In 1992, the family values theme was
central to the Republican Convention. Dan Quayle, the Republican
vice president, inveighed against the loss of such values
when he castigated Murphy Brown, the TV character, for having
a baby without the benefit of marriage. He even condemned
the distribution of condoms to those who are squandering
the gift of youthful innocence in premarital sex.
But the Republicans believe in little save getting elected.
Values can be scarified on the altar of expediency. There
is an election to be won and nothing should prevent a favourable
outcome, even if they have to remake themselves; even if
they have to deny eight years of deregulations; even if
John McCain has to prevent the public from believing that
he voted with President Bush 90 per cent of the time.
Over the last two days, the Dow industrials have fallen
by close to 1,000 points and fears of the 1929 depression
are beginning to resonate as we talk about todays
A recent New York Times/CBS poll reports that the Palin
effect was merely a limited burst of interest
although her presence on the ticket consolidated the Republican
base. The same poll reports that 60 per cent of Americans
as opposed to 53 per cent believe that Obama is better prepared
to get them out of this economic crisis than McCain.
It is a message that Obama must bore home with all his oratorical
skills over the next 46 days before the election. His window
of opportunity is now.