Politics in black and white

Much speculation has arisen over how much race will play into the presidential election. Surveys show that even a significant number (around 40 percent) of white Democrats admit to some negative feelings toward African-Americans.

In the privacy of the voting booth, would such persons vote for their party’s candidate who is the offspring of an African father and white American mother?

But another issue of color — that has nothing to do with race — may be a greater factor in determining the outcome of the November election. It has to do with whether voters like short answers that clearly divide all issues into black and white (right or wrong) choices — or welcome an exploration into gray areas.

During the Saddleback Civil Forum, Sen. John McCain seemed to answer every question with a brief statement or a phrase of few words. Then he would turn his eyes from the pastor to the crowd and give one of his “My friends,…” speeches.

Sen. Barack Obama — according to critics — came across as “too professorial.” That is, he didn’t attempt to capture the complexity of abortion procedures and politics (or other issues) in concise, sure statements.

Sen. Obama wrestled with the issues while Sen. McCain gave quick, sure and brief answers regardless of the question.

Heading into the presidential debates, both candidates are surely working with their handlers on what — and how much — to say when a question is posed. The right answer, I suppose, is the one that most of the electorate want to hear.

Some want black and white answers. Others don’t mind a little exploration of gray areas. That more than race may color this election.


  1. Eight years of black and white with little grey has left us alienated from most of the world, 10 trillion dollars in debt, scarred by wars, morally undermined by our use of torture, and bereft of leaders who are willing to tell the truth to the people. I know its difficult, but there is great value in reflection and the ability to see beyond the simplistic categories of our preschool years.

    This outlook shapes our religious life as well. God is a mystery, yet our need for the simplistic – a world of black and white – robs us from experiencing God and as anything other than familiar, straightforward, digestible platitudes shaped in our own image.

  2. I have submitted a letter to the Bham News that clears the air on this one; but then again Jeannie Babb Taylor made sense in Ringgold Ga for a Ga State House seat (wasn’t it) and lost anyway.
    I remember a moment of enlightenment reading a Newsweek report of a George Wallace Ralley at Noccalula Falls, Alabama, not far from where I now live.
    Words didn’t mean anything, the Yankee writer said. It was about culture and tribe and “one of us” stuff that kept likewise Jesse Helms in the Senate and Hayes Barton Baptist Church.
    I’m gonna see how many votes Barack Obama picks up in Clay County North Carolina, birthplace of George Truett. I’m guessing less than 28% but we’ll see.
    Should say something about the state of true vine Baptist consciousness in America.
    But I digress.
    BabbTaylor has Palin’s number at her blog, and I got great links to Hixson, Tn SBC and Vandy bred Michelle Cottle on Same; now at New Republic, TNR.com
    Read those and you’ll be the wiser.
    I’ll share the letter I submitted to Bham News soon. I think you’ll like it.


  3. sfox wrote:

    ((Read those and you’ll be the wiser.))

    I did. If I am wiser I expect it is not as you intended.

  4. i’m hopin all of you see Parham’s great essay on Sam Harris and Sarah Palin in his Sept 29 column.
    I got the link at my blog if you want to click over.

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