A Long Way To Go

A new survey about racial attitudes conducted by researchers from three universities, Stanford, the University of Michigan and Chicago, reveals that they have not improved over the last four years. Slightly over half of all Americans, 51%, expressed attitudes against blacks. In 2008 the percentage was 48. The researchers asked questions to assess both explicit and implicit attitudes. When questions were asked looking for implicit attitudes, the percentage was even higher, 56%. In 2008 that figure had been 49%. The research was conducted online where more people are believed to answer more truthfully than when answering someone face to face, and while there was a higher percentage of republicans with negative attitudes towards blacks, democrats did not fare that much better. Tacitly, or maybe not so tacitly, many of these sentiments have been reflected in the presidential election. Paralleling this, the election is also underscoring that by a wide margin negative ads are effective. Another strand comes from the mega millions poured into the campaign from individuals and groups of either party who seek an outcome favorable to their interests, money that could go to scholarships, the arts, the hungry, youths at risk… When these three strands are seen together as important elements of electoral dynamics, one has to conclude we have a long way to go, a very long way, before we can learn to vote for the person best qualified to solve our problems as opposed to voting for one who mirrors our limitations and prejudices.