The White Guilt of American Elections

Subtle racism has found its way to the American political scene in the final days before Americans head to the ballots to vote on who should run their country for the next four years. The issues both candidates stand for are known. Conservative versus liberal, right wing vs left wing, grosso modo. However, with elections being less than 48 hours away, the talk isn’t centered around the core issues anymore.

The American elections are now all about demographics: who’s voting for who. Because demographic talk is important to see how the country might vote on November 6th.

Pro-Obama analysts underplay the shift in numbers from 2008 to 2012 as something that can be compensated for on election day. Pro-Romney analysts extrapolate the shift in numbers to claim a premature victory they desperately seek. But what is the demographic talk they speak of?

It is that of Catholic and Protestant voters. It is that of independent voters. It is that of women. And do you know what’s the common thing among all those demographics that are up for grabs still?

They’re all white. Or caucasian, whichever term is more politically correct.

In the dying minutes before Americans choose, the tactic is to bring out the colonial white guilt that hasn’t died down since America’s old days. Bringing out the guilt happens even in subtle comedy that, when not read into, is another funny gimmick to make people laugh. However, after a careful minute of reflection, a seemingly harmless skit holds a deeper meaning than it presumably intends to.

For struggling campaigns, the play on the emotional cords of voters is essential to rally them up come election time. The emotional cord for white American voters is the issue of racism. If you don’t vote for this candidate, then you are subtly racist. The fear from the label pushes some people to vote against their convictions in order not to fall into the stereotype.

And this is the inherent hypocrisy of the American system.

More than 90% of African American voters are voting for Obama come election day. Are they accused of racism? No. How many of those voters are more inclined to vote for Obama because of the color of his skin? How many are voting for him based on their convictions and political stance? Both questions are quite irrelevant because they don’t apply here. They apply to “others.”

On the other hand, caucasian Americans do not have the prerogative to vote for their convictions guilt-free. It’s because they weren’t the segment of American society that was marginalized for years and years. But does the fact that African Americans had a very tough phase in their history warrant the rhetoric that has sunk to the level it’s at today?

And we’re not even going into the baggage that voting for one candidate over the other carries: xenophobe, homophobe, female-phobe, anything-phobe.

The bottom line is: it’s not racism and you’re not a racist when you’re voting for someone not because of the color of his skin but because of what he stands for. It’s not racism and you’re not  a racist if you haven’t really thought about a candidate’s skin color until now. Come election day, everyone – regardless of their skin color – should vote to who they believe can get their country in the right direction. The “white result” of 2008 has shown that the majority of Americans don’t care about a candidate’s skin color. So for those who voted to one candidate in order to prove they weren’t racist in 2008, mission accomplished, no need to feel guilty if you cast an opposite ballot this time around. One thing to be said though is shame on media that would revert to such cheap tactics in order to get their preferred candidate a boost.

 

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The Ides of March – Movie Review

If you’re like me and had no idea what “Ides of March” meant until after the movie, it’s interesting to note it’s Roman for the 15th of March.

The Ides of March is the story of the days leading up to that day, on which a heavily-contested Ohio Democrat primary is supposed to take place between governor Mike Morris (George Clooney) and senator Pullman. Morris is the frontrunner but not by much. He is easily able to inspire many by his rousing speeches and his ability to draw empathy out of his audience. He is seen by his campaign managers as the best candidate to ever grace the US political scene up to the point where they’ve come to believe they cannot be disappointed by him.

Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) is one of the top managers in Morris’ campaign and he’s also one of those people. After an attempt by the opposing Pullman camp to court Meyers and have him join their side, Meyers will start discovering an aspect to the political life he loves so much that is much darker than he thought. And as his closest friend in the field, journalist Ida Horowicz (Marisa Tomei), had told him without him believing: “[Morris] is a politician. He will let you down — sooner or later.”

The movie itself is highly engaging. It has a dark, somber mood to it that doesn’t let down from the get go, making it highly enriching for you to sink your senses. The movie sets itself as a political drama from the first minute and stays as such for the course of its ninety minute run.

Scene after scene, the movie builds the tale of how Americans elect their leaders. It forms a plot of corruption that goes on behind scenes we can never see and it illustrates the brutality of people towards each other – how in politics, playing everyone is key to survival. This teaches the main character, Stephen Meyers, an invaluable lesson, one that he wished he’d never learn: to reach places in the political world, you have to give up your basic principles in life. And seeing Meyers transform from the utopia boy at the beginning of the movie to the pragmatic man at the end is a very engaging journey.

The acting in the movie is top notch, as is expected from Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman and George Clooney. As mentioned previously, Gosling provides the movie’s crux when it comes to the acting with the other actors and actresses coming in as accessory to his story. You can sense his anger when he is so, you can feel his sadness when he’s devastated. He slightly reminded me in The Ides of March of his outstanding performance in Blue Valentine, although this still doesn’t come close to that.

George Clooney starts off by portraying a leader you all want to follow: one that shouts integrity and honor and respect. His speeches captivate you, his ideas engage you… and sooner or later, with the twists in the story coming to surface, the leader loses that gleam of pride in his eyes and he becomes someone you can’t but run away from. The transition is performed very subtly by Clooney.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is the angry campaign manager whose goal in life is to get Morris to the White House. And as is expected from Hoffman, his performance is top notch.

The script, co-written by Clooney, is very sharp and that is overly obvious by the way it flows and by the realism it exudes. It’s so realistic, in fact, that it could have easily been a conversation between a bunch of people prior to any elections. The movie has many of the issues people discuss and these issues have been weaved into a highly interesting political movie canvas that doesn’t come off as preachy or trying to convince you of one point or another.

Clooney, as a director, provides good subtle nuances. One particular scene that comes to mind is one where Morris is delivering a speech on one side of the American flag, while Gosling and Hoffman are panicking about the campaign on the other side. Such scenes, although mostly go unnoticed, reveal a high attention to detail, one that you cannot but credit.

The Ides of March, however, is far from being perfect. Sure, it’s highly engaging. But the twist in the movie is highly predictable, which ultimately makes the plot more on the deja-vu side, but it’s the kind of deja-vu that remains interesting. And even though you feel connecting to the characters on screen, towards the end of the movie you get disconnected from everyone as they change to characters you don’t want to relate to. The movie leaves you with an ending that feels lacking. You want more mostly because you want to feel that this man you cheered for is better than what he turned out to be.

At the end of the day, The Ides of March remains a highly realistic movie that is sure to please anyone with an interest in politics in general and political movies in particular. It’s a very tightly-produced drama that doesn’t ask much of you except to concentrate and watch, ultimately inherently asking fundamental questions about the values of democracy we all consider a given.

 

Birthers Don’t Make Sense

I have not been following U.S. Politics closely lately, but I will become up to date with everything going on there as election time draws nearer.

I am also not a supporter of Mr. Obama. Those who know me should know that I would be considered a Republican in the U.S. Political spectrum.

However, the current wave of “criticism” against Barack Obama simply doesn’t make sense. Birthers, as they are called, are questioning the legitimacy of Obama’s birth on U.S. Soil, to the extent that he actually came forth with his birth certificate.

Not only is this a non-issue, with much more severe topics with which Obama can be confronted due to his less than stellar performance as president, but it’s also nonsensical.

A person cannot run for president of the United States unless he/she was born on U.S. soil – i.e: acquiring the U.S. citizenship later on in life does not entitle you to run. In other terms, I can never become president of the United States, but my cousins can. So do “birthers” really think that Obama wouldn’t have checked out as a legitimate candidate when he first ran that they’re questioning it now? You’d think the C.I.A or whichever front responsible for vetting candidates would make sure they are constitutional before letting them be elected.

U.S. Politics, with Obama being forced to show his birth certificate and his birth location becoming the issue of the moment, has sunk to a new low. And it doesn’t end here… Obama’s university grades are being questioned now as not as “high” as originally thought to be. When the world is busy trying to contain oil prices, handle revolutions and find peace solutions, Americans are being forced to deal with yet another issue that is far, far away from the issues that really count.