Charles Hurt has a great piece today in the Washington Times that touches on some of the themes Charlotte wrote about in this piece on Sarah Palin. Liberals seem to have a particular dislike for African-American conservatives, just as they do female conservatives.
Yet it was the title of Hurt's piece—Is America Ready for Second Black Leader?—that got me to click on it. I know authors rarely selected their own titles (and this title worked–it got me to read the piece). But in truth I was terribly frustrated when I read it.
Political races are always a combination of popularity contests and real substantive issues. The characteristics of a given candidate—how likeable they are, if they inspire confidence, and can articulate their positions well—matter to voters, often as much as the specific agenda that those candidates advance.
But I'm plain old tired of those who want to always see politics through the lens of the race, gender, and religion. And I feel confident that as GOP primary voters assess the primary field, very few are spending much time on what it would mean to have a Morman in the White House, or a woman, or another African-American president.
It's nice to break down barriers and to show ourselves that we've gotten over some of the old hangups, the tribalism and sexism that were once a force in the country. Americans were rightfully proud to elect an African-American president as an important step in our march away from a racist past.
But let's face it: That hasn't helped turn around the economy, improve our position internationally, lowered the national debt, fixed our lousy public schools, or even improved racial relations in any discernible way.
Our country has big problems, and problems that appear to be getting worse—potentially much worse—if we continue on our present course. Voters aren't looking for another black president, a woman president, or a Morman president. They don't have that luxury given our current crisis.
Instead they want a President who is going to advance policies that make our country better. For conservatives, we want someone who is going to roll back the worst excesses of government and return power to the people. We don't care the color or creed or sex of who does that, we just want it done.
Horse race politics are what they are, and the media will inevitably ruminate on how various characteristics will figure in to a candidate's electoral prospects. Voters are likely to take their job much more seriously and look past such trivia to the real issues that are at stake.