Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Voting intentions

Much is being made of the likelihood that Barack Obama will attract less votes in today's US Presidential election than he would have done otherwise because of his colour. To the extent that happens it's sad since reflects the deep-rooted nature of racism, but should we be unduly concerned?

I rather doubt it. Regardless of colour, the process by which voters in any democracy choose their preferred candidate is (to say the least) complex. Much has been made of John McCain's age by his opponents, and those who reject him on those grounds could reasonably be accused of ageism; it is not as though he is yet of a time of life where he might be expected to shuffle off this mortal coil.

Then there's the gender issue. One of the most bizarre aspects of the election is reports that some feminist voters, erstwhile supporters of Hillary Clinton, are prepared to vote Republican for no other reason than that they've put up a female candidate for VP. That Sarah Palin's neaderthal political views are diametrically opposed to those of Ms. Clinton seems to be of no concern to them; explain that one if you can.

Few of us vote solely on the basis of politics and policies. Voters all carry prejudices into the voting booth, and it is the mark of a democracy that those are tolerated, even where we disapprove.

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