The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Optimist Club

Frank said:

"If Smith can't get laid, Obama can't get elected."

Hey wait. You said if Smith can get laid a "Black" man can get elected.

Obama won't lose because he is Black, he'll lose because he's not ready for prime time: Because he's too Liberal.

But I wonder: if Colin Powell or Mike Steele ran for President, would he get the same support from Blacks as Obama is getting?"

Not that it matters, but I do believe I DID mention Obama by name. If he doesn't get elected, and 10% of the country says they wouldn't vote for a black man, how exactly does that equate to he "won't lose because he's black"? It would seem to me that not factoring that in is an odd kind of unearned certainty.

Lt. Governor Mike Steele? I have no idea how black people would react to him...never heard him speak, don't know his positions, and don't know much about him. Black folks loved Colin Powell. A little less since his testimony before Congress, but I remember Janet Jackson pointing him out at a concert, and the crowd went NUTS. Black people don't just love Obama because he's black. They backed him at the rate of 90%, but then they vote DEMOCRAT by the exact same percentage. He is touching something in them that no national political figure ever has, and it ain't just Melanin. They love him and then they love the fact that the man they love is black...there is literally a bit of a daze about it, and trust me, they didn't react that way to any other black politician I've ever seen. Since he is lighter skinned than many, many other black politicians who got much less enthusiasm, the idea that blacks are flocking to him BECAUSE he's black is only sustainable if one deletes important data.

And Frank, regarding your belief that Obama will lose...soldier on, Dude! This wouldn't be fun if the Republicans just laid down and died. You are SUCH an optimist. I genuinely admire that.


By the way...I've seen lots of stats about what percentage of white democratic voters in different states said, during the primaries, that they wouldn't vote for a black man (10-20%). And I've seen stats on the percentage of white Americans across the board who say they would cast their vote based on melanin. But I wondered if anyone broke those stats down based on political party. Anyone have a link to a set of stats comparing Republicans and Democrats on this rather thorny issue?


Ever lick a battery? I get that taste in the back of my mouth when I'm overtrained. And I woke up this morning tastin' Duracell. Gama Casts today. But it looks as if I'm going to take a week later this year to go back and train with Sijo Mohammad. Can't wait. I've always had a bit of a guilt-trip about my inability to emotionally handle his school back in the old days. This is a golden opportunity.

Interestingly, both Sijo and Cliff Stewart think that there is no problem reconciling Kenpo and Silat. My instinct tells me that's true at all. But I've had folks who are less advanced in both arts say that they cannot be. folks still working their way up the mountain, the paths look very different. But to those sitting at the top, it all looks very much alike. I think a lot of life is like that, actually. The war betwixt Left and Right generally strikes me as children squealing that Heads is better than Tails.


Today is a fasting day. I'm still experimenting with eating fresh fruits and vegetables (ONLY) on these days. So far, so good. Seem to be able to quash the hunger pangs, but still feel "empty" at the end of the day. I don't know what I.F. effects are or are not being triggered thereby, but all things considered, it seems like a damned fine compromise.


One of my dear friends is headed to Iraq for a year. While he won't be with the combat troops, he is definitely there protecting American interests, and there are still obvious risks. Your prayers and good thoughts are appreciated.


We've got a real cluster#$% with a copyedited manuscript that just came back: the copy editor was working 80% on the wrong version. And then they want a 48 hour turn-around. And Tananarive is out of town, so we have to talk over the phone...what fun. Oh. And the housekeeper didn't show up, and didn't call, so the house is a disaster. Oh, well...


I heard McCain calling Obama "Dr. No" supposedly because he keeps saying "No" to energy policy. Interesting. Anyone actually familiar with the character will see some other rather unfortunate implications (Dr. No is of mixed blood, German and Chinese) and anyone who read the book will see more (pretty racist stuff). My guess is that it's legitimate to play innocent on this stuff--but just watch. You'll see stuff from the Obama camp that "accidentally" references McCain's age ("confused" "a half-century of service") just as often as McCain's "accidentally" references race. I hate politics. There's only one thing it's preferable to, and that's open war. Sort of like lawyers are preferable to hitting people in the head with bats. But not by that much.


I may have contacted WorldCon too late to get on programming. That sucks. I'll have to come up with some other way of contacting friends and fans while I'm in Denver. Hope I don't miss anyone!


Reluctant Lawyer said...

"Sort of like lawyers are preferable to hitting people in the head with bats. But not by that much."

As a lawyer, I will say that I would prefer to hit people with bats. It is actually much more civilized than what goes on in litigation sometimes.

Anonymous said...

"Black people don't just love Obama because he's black. They backed him at the rate of 90%, but then they vote DEMOCRAT by the exact same percentage."

Umm, the Black vote went to Sen. Obama by 90% in the DEMOCRATIC primary (against the wife of a former President who was called by the Black community as the first Black President). Black people may not love Sen. Obama solely because of his Black ancestry (clearly he is a gifted orator and politician), but it is pretty clear that Black people do love Sen. Obama because of his Black ancestry.

Reluctant Lawyer said...

I've always disagreed with Clinton's label as the first black president as it was based on a number of his negative habits and the label can hardly be said to reflect the opinion of the whole community.

Josh Jasper said...

I do think a conservative black candidate would probably get less support, and possibly some criticism that Obama isn't getting.

Some of that is the history of the Republican party. After Nixon's "southern strategy" of embracing segregationist types and racists, who can blame them? Is it fair that the GOP caries that burden now for those mistakes? I'm not sure. It's comparable in my mind to how tarring all Democrats with "godless liberal" affects voting among religious conservatives. Not the same thing, but similar in some ways.

Daniel Keys Moran said...

The southern strategy was a two-generation-long (and ongoing) plan by Republicans to play to racists in code language. Was this a "mistake" -- well, yeah; demographic changes are likely to push the Republican Party into permanent minority status, down the road -- people have long memories for stuff like this. But it's richly earned.

Totally legitimate for people of color to vote Republican if they like -- choosing what communities you belong to is a basic human right. But you can't serve two masters, and if you hang with the racists and race-baiters, shit ... a little static is the least you should expect from the community you came from.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

Nader disses Obama for not being black enough.

I don't know if anyone takes Nader seriously enough for this to make a practical difference, but it does show a remarkable level of gall and some bad background premises.

Or it can be viewed as comedy gold.

Anonymous said...

One of my friends voted for Nader in 2000. So, he was taken seriously at one point in time by some people. I think the number of people who take Nader seriously has significantly decreased though. But, yeah, Nader's comment was clueless/classless on all sorts of levels.

Steven Barnes said...

Absolutely, Blacks would back a Conservative Black candidate less strongly--because they're not just voting on the basis of race. Toni Morrison started the "first Black president" with a reference to the way he was being negatively treated, not as a reference to anything positive. Why loyalty to one person should automatically confer to that person's spouse is beyond me.
Yep, Black people love Obama because he's black--and remarkable. They sure as hell wouldn't line up behind him if he was Black and an idiot. He is representing what many see as a sea-change, or a line of demarcation demonstrating that things have changed far more than many of them could believe. In other words, he gives them hope their children might actually be Americans, not 3/5th American, as many, many have felt for centuries.It's a fascinating situation.

Anonymous said...

"Why loyalty to one person should automatically confer to that person's spouse is beyond me."

Fair enough. Why someone would vote for Sen. Obama because he's Black also is beyond me.

Nevertheless, some people feel that Sen. Clinton would have been a President in the same mold as her husband and some people are voting for Sen. Obama because he's Black. People are not rational creatures. For an example of this, we elected George W. Bush to two terms in office.

Anonymous said...

Whites vote Rep or Dem, so a politician in either party who annoys them 1) loses their vote and 2) watches their vote go to his opponent.
Blacks vote Dem. Half the power. (This is (I think) about 90% true, pretty good for teh intrawebs)
This hurts Republicans, hurts blacks, helps Democrats. I wonder how long it will last?
Bruce Purcell

Josh Jasper said...

Kukulkan, did you just read past the part where Steve emphasizes that it's not just being black, it's being black and being exceptional?

And he explained why - it gives hope, presents a positive role model, and from my perspective, offers a chance that someone might be president who'll listen to black issues more than any candidate before.

What about that is hard to understand? Evangelicals thought that about Bush, mostly because Karl Rove suckered them in to it, but still Bush acts like an evangelical in many ways. To evangelicals, he was their president.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

One more thing about Nader-- I've never seen anyone say that poor white people are the special task of better off white people.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

I'm laying my bet down. Obama will win, but there won't be a highly popular movie with an explicit sex scene for a black man before then.

Steven Barnes said...

James Bond movies aren't explicit. PG-13 would work fine for me. The trick is that many people will vote for Obama DESPITE the fact that he's black.
While watching scenes in movies that make us uncomfortable just isn't entertaining.
It isn't rational to vote for someone based on Race? Hmmm. Not sure that's true. Tribal affiliations have kept people alive for a million years. We're moving to more abstract definitions of Tribe now, which is good.
I don't think we'll ever get an even distribution of blacks across the Liberal-Conservative divide until the average black person perceives the playing field as level. To the degree that Conservative means "keep things the same" or Liberal means "Change things" people who don't like the way things are will vote for change. As long as Conservatives convince themselves that some kind of a fluke (or black ignorance or gullibility) is responsible for the small percentage of minorities in the Republican Party, they can't fix it. I'll actually be HAPPY when there are equal numbers, because of what that implies. Until then...? I assume people vote their own interests, and that Black people are as aware of what benefits them as whites are. Any other conclusion is, to me, condescending and a bit racist.

Pagan Topologist said...

Obama is really too conservative for my tastes. I suspect that he is the best we can do, however, so I am almost certainly going to vote for him. He is personally a much more likable person than McCain.

Maybe if I am absolutely certain that Obama will carry Delaware, I will vote for the Green party Candidate, since it would be wonderful if the Greens could oust the Democrats and leave us with the far right Republican party and the more centrist, slightly left, Greens, not the far right Republicans and the somewhat right of center Democrats.

Anonymous said...


"Kukulkan, did you just read past the part where Steve emphasizes that it's not just being black, it's being black and being exceptional?"

Did you read my first post?

"Black people may not love Sen. Obama solely because of his Black ancestry (clearly he is a gifted orator and politician), but it is pretty clear that Black people do love Sen. Obama because of his Black ancestry."

So not only did I read Steve's comments, I made the same point before Steve. Sen. Obama is clearly an exceptional person. Blacks and Whites both like him because he is an exceptional person. However, the 90% vote statistic suggests another factor is at work. I reasonably conclude that this other factor is race.

Steve expresses dismay when he hears that there are some White Democratic voters who will not vote for Sen. Obama in the Presidential election because of his racial heritage. Yet, at the same time Steve says its only normal for Blacks to vote based on race because this is the first time there has been a viable Black Presidential candidate. Those two statements are incompatible to me. Why is it ok for Blacks to vote for Sen. Obama because of his Black ancestry but not ok for Whites to vote for Sen. Obama because of his Black ancestry? Unless of course Steve expects Whites to be more rational than Blacks -- which is hardly logical.

Anonymous said...

Should have written:

"Why is it ok for Blacks to vote for Sen. Obama because of his Black ancestry but not ok for Whites to vote against Sen. Obama because of his Black ancestry?"

Steven Barnes said...

I don't believe I expressed dismay. I don't FEEL dismay. Tribalism is natural. It is healthier, however, for members of the oppressed group to feel those emotions. What scares me is the number of instances where black people prefer whites--consider them more intelligent, beautiful, and so forth. That's brain-washing of a pretty nasty sort.
90% of blacks voting for Obama isn't as racist as you might think, though: they also vote 90% Democrat. The real question would be why they tend to vote in a block. The reason (in my mind) is that their problems have, historically, AFFECTED them in a block. Slavery applied to all blacks, not just those of a particular religion, or political leaning. As did Jim Crow. And Segregation. Real estate covenants kept ALL blacks from living in certain neighborhoods. Etc. We'll have a larger percentage of black Republican Conservatives as soon as the playing field is more level, and a larger percentage feel that things are pretty good as-is.
Seen that way, blacks are just reacting to him the way they've reacted to white Democrats in the past--only he is speaking even more powerfully to their hopes and dreams. I suspect this is a once in a lifetime occurance--especially if he wins. LOTS of potential energy expended. Four hundred years of prayers, if you know what I mean.