Race, Gender Sway Votes in Cultural Diversity Lecture

Claudia Anaya

Neither the black man nor white woman sitting on stage ever thought it would happen in their lifetimes.

“I’m in a little state of shock that the two top candidates in any political party are who they are,” said Mona Field, a political science professor, who joined with Kerry Riley, an ethnic studies professor, in Kreider Hall on March 13 to discuss the November presidential campaign.

In a lecture titled “Changing the Game or Playing the Cards? Race, Gender, and Class in the Upcoming Elections,” Field and Riley sat in front of the audience as Lisa Lubow, history teacher and moderator of the event asked students: “who thinks they are going to vote for Hillary? Who thinks they are going to vote for Obama? McCain?”

Some students raised their hands with confidence until Lubow asked; how many know what Obama’s position is on race and racism, immigration, the economy, and the war in Iraq?

“It’s to get a sense of where we stand,” said Lubow continuing to ask if people knew Clinton’s views on women and gender issues, economy, immigration, and the war.

After a few moments of silence, the questions were asked.
How many would vote based on “it’s about time we had a woman in office? A black man in office?”

After a few people raised their hand, the discussion began.

The Republican Party seems to choose a candidate early in the race and the Democratic Party may need to “come together” and choose one as well because they both stand for change, according to Field.

“They are respecting each other by competing and not playing it safe,” said Riley in a soft voice, sitting up straight. “They don’t want to make race and gender an issue, but by not saying it they have made it an issue,” said Riley speaking about Clinton and Obama.

Last Tuesday however, race was the issue in Obama’s speech, when he tried to assure voters that his attendance of 20 years at the Trinity United Church of Christ where Reverend Jeremiah Wright has preached his anti-government beliefs due to racial issues, one of which being that the government created AIDS to kill blacks, was something that Obama did not agree with.

Riley pointed out that people might be voting because they may see themselves being less racist by voting for Obama.
“Does this election reflect real change?” said Lubow.

“It reflects change created by education, people are less sexist, racist, people’s attitudes have evolved.showing in mentality and voting behavior,” said Field leaning towards the microphone.

Field warned against voting based on personality and what is shown on television, while Riley enlightened some on positions in healthcare.

“People vote on personality and image rather than on policy. very few of us are fully informed on policy of informants,” said Field.

“Hillary Clinton has proposed a health care system that will cover just about everybody, Barack Obama has put together a system that covers many, but not everybody,” said Riley.

“She’s ambitious,” said Riley, about Clinton.

Students were reminded, “we will be bombarded with media images, with lots of negatives and lots of scandals in November,” said Field, continuing to encourage the audience to “do the research to find out more about their actual position on issues.”

As the discussion came to a close, students were asked what kind of issues they thought were important to them.

Students raised their hands one by one to answer: oil, war, environment, immigration, the country’s economic situation, veterans being well taken care of when they come back from war, the country’s position in the world, and education.