Obama vs. McCain 2008: Round 20: Race and Gender Issues

This is the twentieth of a weekly series of public forums on TMB. Watch for a new round every Monday.

Only three more weeks!

This week’s topic is race and gender issues. I realize this is kind of a vague topic, so I’ll give some possible issues to talk about:

  • Affirmative action
  • Equal pay for equal work
  • Parent-friendly employment
  • Primary caretaker benefits
  • Irresponsible African American fathers
  • Racial profiling (for national security or immigration issues)
  • Educational equality
  • Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and intersexed persons

Abortion issues and urban concerns are covered in other forums.

Other related forums: Economy, Faith and Family Values, Terrorism and Diplomacy, Education, and Illegal Immigration

Next week: Symbolism of President

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9 Responses

  1. Well, this has been an exciting forum…

    I will simply mention that I really like how Obama has been critical of many destructive practices that are common in urban African-American communities (such as the absence of fathers in the home). To be fair, Obama, unlike many others, carries the ethos of being able to make these criticisms.

    Whatever one may think about Obama as President, I think he carries the potential to be a major moral leader for African Americans, and one that is far more persuasive and conciliatory (in my opinion) than Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, and more contemporary and relevant than Bill Cosby. But keep in mind that I’m just a white guy who undoubtedly has very dim views about how blacks see these figures.

  2. I know abortion has been covered in another forum, but how can you state Obama will be a “major moral leader” for African Americans given his view on that issue?

    To get back on topic, these are issues that are challenging in my mind. On the one hand fairness in the work place should exist regardless of race, gender, sexual preference, etc. On the other hand, I work in the public sector and have seen how the over regulation of these issues continues to bog down the already slow process of hiring in public agencies. It doesn’t seem quite as prevelant in smaller local jurisdictions, but at the state and federal levels its horrible. I have more of a laissez-faire view of government in general (which is makes working for the public sector especially challenging).

    I don’t believe this should be a major platform of either of the candidates. The “thumb’s weight” rule is a good approach in my mind. Why continue to regulate and regulate and regulate? At what point do we trust that good skills and work ethic will impress employers regardless of gender? Why do we feel we have to force their hand more than we already do?

  3. Brad,

    I know abortion has been covered in another forum, but how can you state Obama will be a “major moral leader” for African Americans given his view on that issue?

    I think that if Obama’s presidency can help more inner-city African Americans to see that sexual relations are sacred and should not be entered into cavalierly (as he said in the most recent debate), then this will be MUCH more important than the fact that Obama is pro-choice.

  4. I think that if a business wants, in order to maintain a diversified work environment, engage in affirmative action, it is within their rights to do so. However, I believe it is also within their rights to hire solely on perceived merit, or any other criteria they please. If their criteria are prejudicial to those of a particular race, I think that watchdog organizations could alert the public and the public could exert social pressure to help the organization change.

    If particular state governments decide to enact laws regarding the issue, they are within their rights to do so; I think, however, that such laws would be a restriction of freedom and would only hurt the targeted racial groups. I think it is kind of patronizing to say that a racial group needs an extra bureaucratic or administrative “boost.”

    However, I think it is outside the realm of the federal government to deal with the issue, so I have NO idea why it is being brought up in a forum for debate like this. No where in the job description of the president does it say he can solve the nations race and gender problems.

    As far as national security measures go, that can certainly fall within the realm of executive jurisdiction. I think that those who protect our borders and defend our nation ought to be free to target people who are more likely to be a threat. For example, “random searches” are not the most effective; in fact, I consider them a violation of the 4th amendment. An officer must have sufficient reason for suspicion. Certainly, race alone is not sufficient reason for suspicion. However, consider this scenario: suppose a robbery has taken place. A police officer is told that an African American male is fleeing the scene of the crime in a blue automobile. He sees two blue automobiles, one being driven by a European and another driven by an African American. Naturally, he will pull over and search the car of the African American driver. Could this be consider racial profiling? Now, let’s say we have a report of a number of Arabic men who will be entering the nation in the near future with the intent to perform terrorist acts. A security officer sees two individuals at customs, one an old american lady, another a man of Arabic descent. It is perfectly natural, and even commendable, to pay more attention to the latter than the former. To ignore the latter and pay more attention to the old lady would seem as though he is ignoring the information available to him.

  5. Jeff,

    I think the conditions that you describe are reasonable and most people would say it is sufficient warrant for using race as a helpful heuristic.

    But this is not the basic issue with racial profiling; the basic issue would be more general or regular stereotyping based on race. In this respect, I would argue that it is not appropriate, even IF it is more efficient. This is because it would serve as a major morale problem with the race that is being targeted. The inevitable result is that the targeted race would be prosecuted more often (usually for things unrelated to the profiling) than everyone else, and this would be a basic infringement upon one’s rights, if you ask me. I think we each have an implicit right to not be targeted by race, religion, gender, etc., at least regarding general initiatives. Imagine if there was a way to selectively pull over Mormons for something like speeding. This would be ridiculous, even IF it was a more efficient tactic at facing the problem. This is why we have the Bill of Rights — because efficiency and capital isn’t everything.

    The exception to this would be if the nation formally declared war on the specific group in question: e.g., Arabs, Mexicans, Mormons, etc.

  6. Jeff,

    I think that if a business wants, in order to maintain a diversified work environment, engage in affirmative action, it is within their rights to do so. However, I believe it is also within their rights to hire solely on perceived merit, or any other criteria they please. If their criteria are prejudicial to those of a particular race, I think that watchdog organizations could alert the public and the public could exert social pressure to help the organization change.

    And what if the public doesn’t care? Or care enough to exert pressure? Let’s argue, for example, that we hypothetically live in a world where businesses never hire Mormons. And nobody cares. Or not enough people. Or not enough for it to change. You are saying that the state is not OBLIGATED (morally) to do something about it?

  7. The federal government has no authority to do so; while the state government may, I honestly don’t know if it should.

    Connor Boyack effectively explains my rationale:

    http://www.connorboyack.com/blog/the-delusion-of-anti-discrimination-laws

    I recommend reading the post, it is well written.

  8. Although I should clarify: I’m not sure employment is a basic human right; however, even if I did, do I have a right to be employed at any particular business, even if my employment there is against the employer’s wishes? At some point, the employer’s rights of association are significantly curtailed. Even if I did believe employment was a fundamental right, the point at which intervention is necessary is when no employment is available, not just when my desired employment is unavailable.

  9. I’ve been reading “The Audacity of Hope” and I think Obama says it best himself:

    “After all, the problems of poverty and racism, the uninsured and the unemployed, are not simply technical problems in search of the perfect ten-point plan. They are also rooted in societal indifference and individual callousness — the desire among those at the top of the social ladder to maintain their wealth and status whatever the cost, as well as the despair and self-destructiveness among those at the bottom of the social ladder. Solving these problems will require changes in government policy; it will also require changes in hearts and minds. I believe in keeping guns out of our inner cities, and that our leaders must say so in the face of the gun manufacturer’s lobby. But I also believe that when a gangbanger shoots indiscriminately into a crowd because he feels somebody disrespected him, we have a problem of morality. Not only do we need to punish that man for his crime, but we need to acknowledge that there’s a hole in his heart, one that government programs alone may not be able to repair… I think we should put more of our tax dollars into educating poor boys and girls, and give them the information about contraception that can prevent unwanted pregnancies, lower abortion rates, and help ensure that every child is loved and cherished. But I also think that faith can fortify a young woman’s sense of self, a young man’s sense of responsibility, and the sense of reverence all young people should have for the act of sexual intimacy.”

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