Barack Obama and the Deracialization Theory Thesis

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Barack Obama and the Deracialization Theory

The history of the United States has marked some of the most interesting and at the same time challenging events of the democratic process. It saw the breakup from an empire, a war of independence from what would eventually be considered a colonial system and a world order. It faced civil war which took the lives of thousands, ending in an attempt to reconstruct an entire country on the precepts of the Reconstruction Era in the 19th century. Most importantly however, the United States has been the scene of the emergence of civil rights as a doctrine and as a practice. The right of the individual to be a free man, in search of a good and happy life was indeed a revolution at the moment when it became enshrined in the national Constitution. Regardless however of these extraordinary events which marked the history of democracy, the United States, to this day, fails in perfectly integrating all its citizens. In this respect, the African-American issue has marked a troubled time in the history of the U.S.

Despite slavery in the 18th and 19th century, and given the serious debates that took place throughout this time to offer those inalienable rights to every individual, regardless of race or skin color, the situation of African-Americans in the United States points out the practice of democracy in its purest form. The most eloquent example in this sense is the current administration of Barack Obama as the first African-American acting president of the United States.

This research paper focuses on the way in which Barack Obama succeeded in over passing the race barrier and being elected in the highest position of the U.S. administration. Changes in the mentality of people do not happen overnight. Especially in terms of race, these changes need time to mature and to become embodied in the deepest conscience of every individual. Given the historical background of the American voter, it was rather hard to ascertain fifty years before the 2008 elections that an African-American candidate would even be standing in that position, let alone outrun a traditional, white republican candidate. Even so, in 2008, this change took place at the voice of the majority of Americans. However, this success is attributed partly to the extraordinary qualities of Barack Obama as a politician, partly to the support of his party, but one of the most important elements of his campaign and his presidential approach was the Deracialization Theory. Therefore, the present research endeavor will focus on the meaning of the theory, purpose, aims, successes, and failures. More importantly it will point out the role it played in the election of Barack Obama. All these aspects will derive from the answer to a simple question, with complex reverberations. Thus, the research paper will address the way in which the usage of the Deracialization Theory was essential for Obama to win the 2008 elections.

The rationale for the research relies mostly on the way in which Black politicians, such as Barack Obama or Jesse Jackson perform in election. Given the racial background of the country it is important and at the same time interesting to see the extent to which approaches tend to change in order to win power in a state or country. From this point-of-view, the applicability of the deracialization theory is important to note in the presidential elections. It offers the perspective on the American society on the one hand, and on the presidential campaigns and rationale on the other.

Thus, the research question revolves around the idea that the deracialization theory considerably improved the chances of Barack Obama to win the elections. However, even if this theory and approach was used before by Black politicians, it did not always provide positive outcomes. Some examples include Jesse Jackson or Shirley Chisolm. Therefore, additional input from the actual beliefs of Obama which were sensitive issues for the American public, such as health care or the war in Iraq, represented strong points which influenced the voters' choice. Even so, the deracialization theory, through its own rationale and approach represented a crucial element in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Chapter 2 Review of Literature

The 2008 elections in the United States represent one of the most interesting and at the same time hard to predict presidential races in the history of the nation. It is interesting because there is a definite chance that one group which represented a reason for civil rights movement or the emancipation movement to be in the final race for the White House. Therefore, it can be said that the 2008 presidential elections represented an exercise of democracy particularly because all major groups were represented and each candidate had a real chance of receiving the nomination for the final round of elections.

The background for the 2008 elections was well defined by three main candidates, a Republican in the person of John McCain, and two Democrats, Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama. At the same time however, other minorities were represented in the race, such as the Latino minority through the candidacy of Bill Richardson

. The representation of the most important groups in the society was very important particularly at that moment in time. It is rather well-known the fact that "the historical context in which a campaign is waged impacts its substance, pushing various domestic and foreign issues into greater or lesser prominence

" Therefore, the historical context impacted to a large extent the way in which the campaigns were led and would be conducted up to the November 2008 elections. From this point-of-view, the requests of the electorate demanded that more attention be paid on the internal issues rather than the external aspects of politics. Therefore, issues such as immigration, the health care system, or education represented important issues which are tackled by all the candidates involved in the race.

In that political context, the leverage would consist in the way in which each candidate would benefit from the personal characteristics and the way in which the voters could be influenced to choose one side and not the other. From this point-of-view, the strategy of Barack Obama proved decisive. This is largely due to the fact that in his capacity as an African-American representative, he did have an advantage on the black community voters. However, he was forced to win white voters as well, both to offer him legitimacy for his future mandate and to actually ensure his victory in the elections.

The Deracialization theory first appeared in the 1970s. More precisely, it was introduced by Charles Hamilton in 1973 at a National Urban League meeting

. This main argument included the belief that the African-American political discourse, unlike the times of Malcom X and Martin Luther King, can focus more on neutral aspects of politics rather than to merge on racial differences. This was indeed an important change in perspective because it offered the Black American politician a platform for appealing to the white voters. The political discourse was doubled by a public appearance strategy which included neutral environments rather than black majority communities. This was not to deny the black origins but rather to exclude discussions based on racial differences or racially bias premises.

Given the importance of this theory for the political life in America, Huey Perry presents in his "Race, politics, and governance in the United States" (1996) an analysis on the way in which racial perspectives and the input of the deracialization theory impacted the elections in the U.S. In this sense, he points on the actual meaning of the term, which in his acceptation is a rather complex issue. More precisely, "Deracialization, as applied to American electoral politics, is the conduction of an electoral campaign in which racial issues and themes are minimized, if not avoided, in order to attract increased white electoral support"

. Furthermore, Perry examines the role this practice played in the 1989 elections when black politicians were elected or reelected to public office. This is an important turn in history largely due to the historical background of the country but also from the perspective of the political situation between the Republicans and Democrats.

The most important position in the American state of President is at this time occupied by an African-American. From this point-of-view, what is most important both for the research theme and for the way in which the deracialization theory played a role in American politics represents the actual means through which the Obama campaign was focused on the issue of race, or more precisely on non-race issues. In this sense, the contribution of Heather E. Harris is significant. Thus, in her book, "The Obama Effect: Multidisciplinary Renderings of the 2008 Campaign," she points out the reverberations of the 2008 campaign that are visible to this day in American politics.

Moreover, she points out the way in which Obama joggled with the defining terms of the deracialization theory in order to benefit to the fullest from its structure. While… [END OF PREVIEW]

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