Monday, 7 January 2008

First Black President - Political Correctness

Obama, seemingly the new poster boy of everyone's blogs right now, is in pole position to become the first black President of the USA. I don't know enough about him (yet) to voice my support (a crushing blow to the Obama campaign, I'm sure), but from what I've heard so far, he seems like he can offer a genuinely new vision and approach to U.S (and subsequently world) politics (see Xpostfactoid's excellent "Obama praises..." entry on the topic).

However, if the U.S had the UK's atrocious wave of political correctness sweeping through it, I do not doubt there would be people claiming the White House should be renamed Alabaster House as a result. Please keep in mind, we are the nation that ruled that blackboards must now be labelled chalkboards and whiteboards be renamed wipeboards on the grounds of racial aggravation! Just thought I should point that out. It is this sort of politics and governance which is destroying our country.

Obama's campaign is not about whether he is black or white, and seemingly voters aren't turning to him on account of his race. They are beginning to follow a man who offers ideas, hope and change through both his policies and his personality. In this country however, there could not be a minority candidate standing as the leader of a party without his whole campaign becoming bogged down on the colour of his skin and being the first minority leader of a leading political party. Issues, policies, beliefs, ability to lead would all play second-fiddle to an agenda which would have no bearing on his aspirations.
Dealing with a money-thirsty NHS is no better handled by one single ethnic group.
Deciding on whether to invade another country would be better overseen by someone who has a level head, and sound judgement.
These are the qualities we should all be looking for in a country's representation.

The deputy leadership campaign for the Labour party offered a wicked insight into the political correctness that means we are losing sight of what this country needs. I was personally pleased that Harmann won in the end, due to my fear of nasal-Hazel Blears. However, her arguments that she should be elected, in part, on the basis that she was a woman, is insulting.

We want people leading the country, the party to be the best qualified, professionally, that we can find. Qualities such as inspiration, sound policy, integrity - these are what I hope we in the UK are looking at in a person when they stand in front of us, asking for our support, beit for election, policy-approval, or statements. But when such situations arise, like in America where a true contender steps up, but they are anything but white/male/straight/able-bodied, we tend to focus so closely on these characteristics that we lose sight of what we are asking them to do if they get the job. I want the right person for the job, not some gesture appointment.

Obama it seems is the country's hottest politician, much like Blair was back in the 90s. But if Tony Blair had been black, with exactly the same agenda and 'New Labour' dream, he would not have achieved anywhere near as much as he had. If we had someone as talented as Obama in this country, who was skillful enough, genuine enough, smart enough to make a major difference to British politics, we would lose what the candidate had to offer by not being able to get past his colour.

So, if my prediction of an Obama win comes to fruition, then I sincerely hope (and I'm confident Obama would agree) that his presidency isn't regarded as that of 'the first black President' but that it was 'a presidency of a damn good President'.

Something we here in the UK are not capable of as a nation, yet.


Robert said...

Thanks for the link.

Why can't Obama be both? A good President, but with the 'value added' of breaking a very real glass ceiling in US public life?

And a genuine question: Where, exactly, is the law or policy which prohibts the use of the words 'blackboard' and 'whiteboard'? Its a policy which sounds like a myth to me, just like the Winterval fable.

Political Dissuasion said...

Ah, Winterval! My favourite time of year.
I don't think 'chalkboardgate' was ever made into an actual law but back in the late 90s, teachers were told that blackboards had to be referred to as chalkboards. I remember speaking to a teacher friend of mine about it at the time and although everyone thought it was crazy, it had to happen.
Maybe, like Winterval, it only happened in one wee crackpot Scottish town, but it's certainly not unheard of.