Obama: us vs. them

Dateline: Fri 26 Sep 2008

This reflection on politics arrived yesterday from a former copy editor and colleague at the Indianapolis Star who, like so many, has moved on to a bigger and better life. He asked that his name not be used (to protect him from his mother-in-law).

The essay is worth running even without an author's name attached.To me, it cuts to the heart of this election: America's standing in the world, the perception (or not) that we are racist, and the dividing line between young and old in their allegiance to Obama or McCain. I am not saying that everyone who votes for McCain is a racist, and neither is this writer. But sometimes the hesitancy/fear of Obama clearly breaks out along racial lines.

As a bonus, this writer also has some family ties with Alaska and Sarah Palin. Small world.

Anyhow, here it is, from a real wordly guy and still a Hoosier:

"As the father-in-law of a young man from India and the son-in-law of a lifelong Indiana Republican, I am hearing some

interesting-yet-frightening things about the presidential election.

"The son-in-law (who was born in Bahrain of Indian parents, was schooled in India and now lives in Norway) observes that from what he's read in the international press and heard from friends and associates, the image of the United States hinges on whether we as a nation are willing to elect a nonwhite as president. Not electing him will leave the rest of the world thinking the country is trapped in a racist heritage. This view also is reflected in some of the stories out of the BBC.

"My mother-in-law, on the other hand, said she can't vote for Obama because of his religion. When informed that the man has been a nearly lifelong Christian, she says it still bothers her. The unspoken subtext here is that she is using 'religion' as a mask for race.

"Personally, I think there are far more voters like my mother-in-law. No matter what they tell the survey takers (after all, who's going to fess up to voting for McCain because he's white?), in the end there are going to be a lot of voters who will give a variety of reasons for voting for McCain that all are masks for racial preference.

"Finally, as if my family weren't politically touched enough already, my other daughter lives in Wasilla, Alaska. Yes, that Wasilla. She'll never vote for McCain no matter the VP, but with Palin as VP she's even more vocal -- but for two almost conflicting reasons. One she clearly thinks Palin lacks the background and experience to be president and her social

positions are backward thinking. But at the same time, she voted for her as governor of Alaska and wants her to stay in Juneau because she is a counterweight to the corrupt Republicans who controlled the state for decades and would love to get the governorship back. As for social policies, Alaska has a laid back, live-and-let-live ethos that allows people to live as they want in Alaska. If you're tough enough to last five years in the state -- the period needed to be considered a 'real' Alaskan -- then they won't begrudge you the way you live."

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