Thursday, February 07, 2008

Never Gonna Happen

A few months back I was standing in line for coffee at the Mad City Coffee stand in the main lobby of the Howard County General Hospital. In front of me in line was an African American male who appeared to be in his late sixties or early seventies. Unprompted, he turned to me and asked “So who do you think is going to be our next president?”

“If I were a betting man I’d put my money on Barak Obama,” I replied.

“Never gonna happen,” he shot back.

I think about that response quite a bit these days. Keep in mind that this coffee line conversation occurred before the Iowa caucuses. Obamamania had not yet taken off. To this gentleman, the notion that our nation could embrace an African American as president was just too farfetched.

I initially believed that this was a generational thing. His generation had experienced the hard edge of race relations and discrimination for too long. His cynicism was well entrenched. My generation, though not that far behind him, grew up a bit more enlightened in this area, particularly in Columbia. For me, an African American president is very conceivable.

Columbia has always been a little ahead of the national curve in this regard. My first realization of this came when I went away to college in Cleveland. The campus was primarily white with very few minority students. It was a bit of a culture shock for a kid raised in Columbia. Today, John Carroll University is much more diverse than it was in 1973.

While we may live in an area that is progressive in race relations we are behind the times in how our primaries work. Maryland is a closed primary state meaning that participation in the primaries is largely limited to registered voters of the two parties. As a registered independent the only vote I can cast in the election on Tuesday is for the school board. It is time for Maryland to get with the program and open up its primaries to independents.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Come on now. When is the last time you voted for a D excluding school board?

Freemarket said...

I am an independent, too. I am going to vote to privatize our school system. ;-)

Did the gentleman specifically say that Obama's race was why he did not see a Obama victory? I wouldn't make that assumption if it wasn't stated explicitly.

Anonymous said...

Columbia may be progressive in race relations, but unfortunately, that's not the case county wide.

It may be the cynic in me, but considering the amount of racism I see and hear in this, the metropolitan DC area, I do not hold out hope for the election of an African American president.

Dave Wissing said...

I wish I saw this earlier before BlogTale because I could not disagree more and would have told you so. Having someone be able to choose the nominee of a political party who is not member of that political party render the entire idea of political parties pointless. Now maybe the idea of political parties is not a good one in your opinion (and I would probably agree with you more than disagree on this basic point), but if the parties are supposed to mean anything, then I believe only the members of that political party should be able to choose the standard bearer for their party in any General Election that is based on the party system.

This is one thing that the political parties in Maryland do right - limiting those who can choose their respective nominee to the people who are willing to associate with their party. Otherwise, the entire concept of a political party and what it means is pointless....

The alternative option is to do away with party primary system as currently constructed and go with a jungle primary system and allow all candidates to compete in a "primary" under whatever party banner they want and then have the top two candidates face off in a runoff election. In this case, I would not have a problem with unaffiliated voters voting in a primary since the would not be choosing a standard bearer for a particular party in a General Election that they refuse to associate with. The parties would be more symbolic in that people could associate themselves with a party, but whether they won a chance at the runoff, or General Election, would be unrelated to their particular party affiliation. In other words, each candidate would be running as an individual and not as a standard bearer of a party.

But the primary system we have in Maryland is set up for each party to choose a standard bearer for a General Election and I stick to the idea that only the members of that party should be able to choose that person to represent the party.

wordbones said...

David,
I am sure we could have had a spirited discourse on primary policys and politics on this evening. I would have enjoyed that. Suffice it to say that I respect your viewpoint.

I am curious about one thing though...why do the parties allow independents to participate in some state primaries yet discourage it in others?

Curious, eh?

-wb

And Anon 4:33, I have voted for Dems more often than you realize.

Anonymous said...

Freemarket: Stop.

Anon 8:28: WTH are you talking about. I watched in HORROR as my "sisters" CHEERED the release of a man who evaded police after slitting his wife's throat, along with a relative stranger.

Today I watch in HORROR again as people are beaten in Baltimore and New Orleans while called racist names, and everyone looks the other way. The fact is, these racist activities are the reverse of the past, but ask the victims if they are any less REAL.

Racism is racism. We all have the same power and to deny that is to deny that Obama has achieved success with more Dem delegates in this country than his opponent.

None are so blind as those who WILL NOT see.

Wissing: Take your primary and fund it yourself. We're not interested in paying for exclusive rights.

Dave Wissing said...

Wordbones: The parties in each state decide who gets to vote in a primary, so some choose to allow Independents while others don't. It is a state-by-state decision. In fact in some states, one party allows Independents to vote while the other doesn't, as happened in Maryland in 2000, when Republcains decided to allow unaffiliated voters to vote in their primary while the Democrats did not. That only lasted one election cycle and reverted back to a closed primary on the GOP side the following election cycle. I guess they didn't like the idea.... :)

Anon: I think parties should have to fund their own primaries, like they do in some states now. I'm in agreement with you there.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and one more thing anon 8:28, don't even begin to claim I'm not as outraged when racism occurs in any quarter. I'm published with a national periodical regarding horrors of incidents past.

Curious George said...

Anon: Perhaps you could share a link or some excerpts from the work you've had published.

Freemarket said...

Published author anon: I assume you want me to stop being so good looking. Unfortunately, that is my burden- there is nothing I can do to stop that.

Secondly, what is your problem with anon 8:28’s comment? For someone who claims to be a published author, you are not a very clear writer. I honestly don’t know what point you are trying to make, if any.

Anonymous said...

FM: Thanks for the chuckle.

Anonymous said...

fyi fm: I think the point is that the response to anon 8:38 is not to be interpreted as one-sided racism. The anon is against racism regardless of the source, rather than the fact that the publishing occurred.

You're too focused on the published bit.