Race in politics
American Politics has always held a vicious entity within itself. Its quite amazing seeing that as many great things that have come from our government, our predecessors held views that would now be considered immoral to most. Racial discrimination has always been prevalent in the American Government, but only within the last century have the American politicians started to hear the voice of the American people. The face of the American people has changed. It is no longer your average white family. America has become the country it is today through the struggles of people of every race. All have suffered and fought to live their lives just as the next man has. With a new understanding of equality among the people the great barrier of race had finally been broken, and with its fall rises a new day in American politics.
Politicians just like other leaders in society must show case that they have the qualities needed to propel the country to greater heights. “Politicians regardless of their belief systems need to be people who are able to risk innovation, foster collaboration, manage conflict and enhance diversity (Kaagan, 1998).” There are different belief systems and all of them have one thing in common because they define certain virtues that shape the behavior of individuals in those communities. America has different cultures and it is these same cultures that have given risen rise to divisions in society along ethnic, social, status and even religious lines. In addition, the same divisions have given rise to ethnic tensions which over the years have created a bad image of the country in relation to how effective human rights laws are.
In the declaration of independence, it is well stated that all men are supposed to be treated equally but to bring about equality will take a lot of effort and time so as to change the people’s perspectives (Schein, 1999). This was seen after the civil war that put an end to slavery. The African Americans thought that with the new freedom, they were going to be easily accepted in society and be treated like other people but that was not the case. This was attributed to the fact that some group of people resisted change and were not willing to accept other people in their society. This actions made it very difficult for then in the beginning to get good jobs and own property. It was not only African Americans who were treated unfairly but also other non-whites including the Hispanics and also the American Asians. For example, the Chinese immigrant workers were not allowed to own property and were isolated from society especially during and after the WWII. Native Americans were stripped off there lands and the whites in charge took over their fertile lands. The Latin Americans were made to go back to their countries because it was thought that they were overcrowding the regions thus enhancing the fast depletion of the few vital resources.
The minority groups therefore thought that it was better for then to stick together and they did this by forming movements so that they could have one common voice and have a chance of fighting for what they believed in. Despite the divisions that led to violence and segregation, the African Americans had strong representatives as leaders who were very aggressive and some managed to serve in the congress even though their terms at office were short lived. These shows that most of the minority groups were not in control of the economy and the land and that is why only a few people were elected to office.
Thanks to the Civil Rights Act in 1964, laws were enacted to remove the discriminatory practices and therefore minorities were able to be elected in the high offices and even engage in commercial activities freely (Bussenius, 2008). Currently, the number of minorities in leadership positions is the most since the minorities started being accepted as part of the American people. Some of the African Americans who have run for the white house include Reverend Jesses Jackson, Shirley Chisholm and Al Sharpton. Some have served as Secretaries of State for example Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice and others are serving in the Supreme Court and are governors.
Race is not supposed to be a determine factor when people are elected to office but competent leaders are supposed to be elected into office because they have the interest of the country at heart (Harrison, 2000).This is what the newly elected President Obama has stressed on during his presidential campaigns. Most people not only those in the United States but also globally doubted if he could become president and this was not because he was not competent but since he was an African American and the country had never been ruled by one before.
Race in the United States has been a determining factor for winning elections. ‘This is because people believe that there people will continually fight for their peoples rights or they see that the person from the other race is not competent enough to bring forth the changes they have made over the years (Kahn, 2004).” That is why some people who thought they could win the elections for offices they were running for lost in the end, not because they were not capable but because they were from a different race. In addition, previous African American candidates for such positions had lost. This is what the Bradley effect theory referred to and was being used to anticipate what would have happened to President Obama. Tom Bradley in 1982; being a Black American, was running for the Governor of California, from the surveys it showed that he was the candidate most likely to win but when the results came out, he lost to his white opponent.
It was therefore a relief that the American people proved this theory wrong and also the rest of the world that they have reached a position to choose candidates especially their president without any form of discrimination (Stolberg, 2009). The new generation of voters have embraced cultural diversity and have shown there older men that more good can be achieved by accepting the mistakes that were made and giving other people a chance to bring the change that the society needs at this day and era and slowly healing the wounds that people have had for a long time.
The racial problem has been persistent in the American society and with this new turn of events and positive perception, it has opened a window of opportunity for other minority groups to be given a chance to exercise their democratic rights and lead people and pass the ideals, laws and policies which they think will benefit other people in the society. In addition, it has inspired students as well as other qualified leaders who shunned away because of fear of what might happen later after they end up wasting a lot of money in campaigns only to lose in the end. One very important virtue that has been learnt from accepting and embracing the work done by people from other races in the top leadership position is respect. Respect that would enable them to be treated as equals.
The politicians therefore do not need to justify their actions on any racial ground or refer to past scenarios as an excuse for what they have done or are about to do. “This will further create hostility among people which the society is trying very hard to correct (Reed, 2008).” Moreover, it will make the people being attacked feel hopeless and this will increase evil in society.
Politics affects other aspects of the economy and peoples lives in the sense that it defines policies that will be used in various sectors of the economy and the amount of money that will fund projects and activities in those areas. When politicians are chosen with regards to the race they belong to, it is mostly believed that ‘their people’ will have more wealth and resources as compared to people and their regions. This may be seen from the past when the whites lived in nice neighborhoods, had access to better public services for instance good infrastructure, good schools and basically there regions were more industrialized. Little can be said about the minority neighborhoods because they lived in densely populated regions and the few resources in place were overwhelmed. Moreover, there children went to substandard schools and they did not have easy access to basic facilities like health care.
When one of “their own’ rises to such a position, they therefore see that they will have a chance to benefit and enhance themselves economically. On top of this, eradicate some of the evils the society has been exposed to especially crime which their children have had to engage in. They also know that there is someone who knows some of the struggles that they have had to undergo and therefore the leader will strive to achieve that the underlying problems are dealt with.
President Obama taking the oath of office has also showed the rest of the world especially the least developed nations that they can achieve any thing within their means if they put their heart to it. He serves as an example to them that leaders should not be elected according to their ethnic backgrounds as this is one of the major causes of conflicts in such countries. Other developed nations have also learnt that they can give other people a chance to rule their countries. “Moreover, they need to help the developing nations come up because they can achieve more when they are better educated so that they can govern their countries and manage their resources well (Schein, 1999).”
The new president enters into his term he faces many obstacles. When he has to prove to the citizens of America as well as the rest of the world that he is capable and can deliver the pledges he made. Many view Barack Obama as a hero of our day, but we must remember that he is only a man. No better than the common middle-class factory worker, or hunger stricken homeless man. This being said, he faces the scrutiny that any other Americans face in everyday life. Discriminatory people will judge this man as any other based on his skin, and not by his ideals, but with the backing of a new generation of young American voters he has helped to realize a dream shared by ethnic America.
Bussenius M. (2008). Race and Politics in America. Hoover Institution Stanford Junior University http://www.hoover.org/research/focusonissues/focus/17032281.html
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