When Barack Obama announced he was running for president, my initial reaction was to dismiss it because I didn’t think white America was ready to hand over power to a black man. I thought, a woman, yes, but a black man, no. Anyway, Obama’s campaign sought to make race as much of a nonissue as possible, and to a large extent he has suceeded so far. Obama won the Iowa caucus on the back of support from many whites who saw beyond his race and his foreign sounding name. It remains to be seen if he will win the nomination, much less the presidency but it showed me that there are many white people in America today (at least in the Democratic party) that can look past someone’s ethnicity if he can make an appealing enough candidate. Tolerance seems to be growing among many in the US. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that while race is no longer as much of a barrier to success in America as it once was, there are new forms of discrimination. Again I turn to the caucuses in Iowa for an example. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee won the Republican caucus on a surge of support from evangelical Christians. Many pundits thought that Mitt Romney was going to make it. Romney is an attractive candidate. A successful business executive who had the same kind of family values that conservatives look for. He is rich, articulate, intelligent, and reasonable. His problem is that he’s a Mormon. And to many conservative Christians, that’s the deal breaker. Despite being called the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints Mormons are not considered Christian by many Christian conservatives, and so despite the fact that he would otherwise be the ideal Republican standard bearer, he was junked by the Christian right that today has a stranglehold on the Republican Party. Instead, evangelicals chose Mike Huckabee, a man who thinks that Pakistanis are the largest block of illegal immigrants; a man who in this day and age, apparently believes the Bible literally.
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