Race, Class, and the Election

November 9, 2008

There’s so much to write about the election and so little time, but I’m highly intrigued by the many things that have been written about race and class in this election.   We’ve seen microphones and cameras thrust into the faces of any number of undecided white, working-class voters who were all too eager to explain their indecision in jumbled statements about race, change, and “liking” Sarah Palin.

But certainly, I kept thinking, there are at least some middle-class voters still undecided who would say equally puzzling things?  Or at least middle-class voters who, having decided, would explain their choices in such tangled terms  if they had not learned middle -class ways of evading frank talk about race?

But the media seemed insatiably curious about the white- working class racism, assuming, it seemed, that there was no need to even question whether race was still an issue elsewhere across the economic spectrum.

I’d love to hear what other have been reading and hearing on such things.

I’ll offer only a few  snippets in the short time that I have to write this morning:

In my own family, the chain email questioning how someone from Obama’s background could possibly have gotten into Harvard on his own merits (with the clear implication that he had to have  been sponsored by those whose radical causes he’ll now champion) was forwarded by the wealthiest, college educated uncle-in-law.

And I read  on Working Class Perspectives of white middle-class businessmen’s gloom on election day.

Conversely, I  was intrigued by yesterday’s New York Time article on the gradual transformation of voters in Levittown, PA to support for Obama,  and by This American Life’s radio show on the ground game in Pennsylvania which included unprecedented  direct and frank talk about race within the unions (see Union Hall, Act 3).

I hope to write more about this sometime soon, but in the meantime I’m curious:

How might the conversation about race and class be changed by this election?  What are others hearing?

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2 Responses to “Race, Class, and the Election”

  1. janevangalen Says:

    Hi Jeanne,

    I saw that article — thanks for linking here. What strikes me is that it is portraying these folks from the deep south as now isolated and no longer players in the national political scene.

    Meanwhile, working class people of color seemed to have found more powerful voices in this election. I just read this morning that 60-70% of the union vote went to Obama– better than Kerry did with unions 4 years ago.

    So I’m wondering — if something going on that the media isn’t yet catching on to?


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