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President Obama’s election is due, in part, to the desire among many American liberals and leftists to be seen as “atoning” for the sin of racism and the crimes of slavery. The fact that Obama is bi-racial—his mother was white—matters little since he looks like an African-American. Indeed, the President’s own writing focuses on his African, Muslim roots, especially because his Kenyan father abandoned both him and his mother.
In an era of symbolic identity politics and affirmative action, only one kind of candidate could trump Obama’s credentials and that would be an African-American woman. Only such a candidate could symbolically address the sin and crime of sexism as well as that of racism. Ironically, the first woman who ever ran in a major party primary for the American Presidency did so in 1972. That was Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, whose parents immigrated from British Guiana and Barbados. In 2004, Senator Carol Moseley Braun, also an African-American woman, ran in a major party primary for the American Presidency. Both women failed in their bids.
Currently there are 31 African American men and 13 African-American women in Congress; there are no African-Americans in the Senate. In the past there have been only six such senators in American history. Currently, there are 18 women in the Senate. In all of American history a total of 39 women of all races, including the current 18, have served as Senators.
Given how many Americans confuse voting for the Presidency with voting for an American Idol; given how good so many Americans feel that we have “overcome” and have elected an African-American as our President; given how deep, high, and wide emotions are running in terms of racism (which trumps sexism as an issue even among establishment feminists), clearly, obviously, the next election is ripe for an African-American woman candidate. Obviously, she can be as inexperienced as President Obama was as long as she is charismatic, charming, eloquent, glamorous, and well connected to Hollywood, the media, and the academy. .
Maybe Oprah should run.
She will never run against her “guy.” Not a chance in Hell. (And I would never vote for her). But she represents the zeitgeist, what’s popular in America right now. And Obama has all the African-American hip-hop and rap artists and Hollywood stars sewn up tight. We can’t turn to them. Obama’s their “guy” too.
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