Race and Gender in the U.S. Elections

It seems to me that the commentators on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News (the stations I listen to most) are underplaying an important factor in this year’s U.S. presidential campaigns: human nature.

It is only human for people to vote for their own kind. It’s called tribalism. I am convinced that one reason for John McCain’s primary win in New Hampshire is that he has an Irish-sounding name and many New Hampshire residents have Irish roots. Similarly, Rudy Giuliani can expect a lot of votes in areas that are heavily Italian.

Just as naturally, women will vote for Hillary Clinton because she is a woman and African-Americans will vote for Barack-Obama because his father was black.

Of course, this does not apply to all women, all African-Americans, all Irish-Americans or all Italian-Americans. Some voters are able to rise above tribalism and vote more responsibly.

Jamaicans have come a long way toward overcoming tribalism. Look at the wide range of skin colors in Jamaica’s parliamentary representatives through the years. Besides, the former prime minister was a woman.

Britain (and the British Commonwealth) has a female monarch. Indeed, the first British monarch in recorded history was a woman and two of that country’s most renowned rulers were Elizabeth the First and Victoria.

You would think that by now gender would not matter in an American election. Yet it does. The vast majority of older women who voted in the Democratic primaries chose Hillary Clinton. And you can be sure there will be voters (especially in the South) who will vote against her because of her gender.

Sadly, race is also an issue. Some voters will support Obama because of his color; others will vote against him for the same reason.

No one can do much to change this discouraging state of affairs. Only through education can the American electorate become evolved to the point where superficial differences and similarities no longer decide events that vitally affect our lives.

Perhaps if we elect the right candidate, the educational system will be improved to the point where America might have such an electorate one day.