Thursday, June 19, 2008

Obama and the Dilemma of Black Conservatives

A recent AP story featured a number of black conservatives who are thinking of voting for Barack Obama (e.g., J.C. Watts, Colin Powell, Armstrong Williams), and at least one who is definitely voting for him (John McWhorter).

(No mention of Thomas Sowell, who definitely will not be voting for Obama!)

Two responses of interest:

1. Obama was asked by David Brody "about his message to black conservatives who may be struggling with the fact that they have an historic chance and a real viable shot to vote for an African-American candidate for President yet may have to sacrifice some of their core principles to do it." Here is Obama's answer:
I don't want people abandoning their principles, and I don't want people voting for me because I'm black. What I'd ask is people take a look at my positions on issues, not what floats around the Internet, but rather what are my actual positions on issues. I think on some issues I would be considered left of the spectrum, there's no doubt. The fact that even though I've acknowledged abortion is a deeply, difficult moral issue, I continue to believe that women should be in a position to make that decision. That's something, that for some, and I respect this, is a deal breaker. On the other hand, I think there are a lot of conservatives out there who would say that my position on the importance of faith in our culture, my position on the need to care for the poor, my belief in individual responsibility - those are all issues that I think are compatible with many conservatives and so I'd ask people to not buy the political caricature, but actually take a look at my positions on the issues.

2. Peter Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, writes (in part):
Even if one acknowledges that in this historic election it’s perfectly understandable that racial pride may have a profound influence, the fact that any conservative, regardless of ancestry, would vote for Obama demonstrates an impressive tolerance for risk. The question for many conflicted black conservatives is whether the benefits of having a black president outweigh the risks of having a liberal one.
HT: The Corner