It was a difficult day on The Michelangelo Signorile Show yesterday, as Mike spoke with several callers who are ready to vote for John McCain before casting a ballot for Barack Obama.

In the clip below, the caller cites a few reasons I’ve seen out there, including: 1) we know McCain, we don’t know Obama; 2) There’s just something about him (Obama) I don’t like. Watch it:

This whole call needs to be transcribed and circulated because we seriously need to have a discussion about the underlying issues here that are hitting on the third rail. Mike challenges the caller to explain these positions, given the huge political gulf between McCain and Obama on nearly every issue. The caller ends up admitting that his decision to vote for McCain is not based on logic.

Caller: My arguments aren’t logical…this is what my gut is telling me; I don’t consider myself a racist or bigoted…there’s just something about the man I don’t like and I’m not going to vote for him.”

Mike: It’s funny that you say your gut is telling you this and then you go on to say that you’re not a racist, funny how that works, right? Because maybe your gut is telling you something that you’re not wanting to admit…but listen, but you should be voting based on logic, based on rationality. What Republicans want is for you to vote on emotion. And you are a perfect example of how they get votes from people who are voting against their own self interest.

Obama’s and Clinton’s positions are far closer than Obama vs. McCain — it doesn’t make any sense to vote for McCain. For some, not all – there really is a deep-seated fear out there about being led by a black man, so much so that they’d vote for McCain. They think electing Barack Obama is somehow going to erase white privilege —  as if it was possible — and then exact some sort of revenge for past wrongs perpetrated on minorities. Jesse and I blogged about this jokingly the other day, but this aspect of the rejection of Obama is not being honestly articulated — the caller in this case went out of his way to bring up how he’s not racist — when race had not come up in the conversation at all up until that point.

Another caller provided a comment on Mike’s blog. Read it below the fold.He makes a charge about “black racism” that I don’t understand at all, and cites a personal story about being harassed by blacks for supporting Hillary.

I called in to today’s show and said that I was concerned about the black racism being displayed over the campaign. I know that you only have a short time to make your point, so I want to elaborate on what I was saying. First, of all, I have been so sick and tired of the Obama-files belief that everyone who does not support their demi-god of being a racist. Where yes I do believe racism exists, everyone that doesn’t vote for him will have their own reasons not simply because of his skin color.

As I was saying on the show today, the thing that has really turned me off to voting for Obama is this permission that he, his supporters, and the media give to blatant black racism. The implication that black voters are more valuable than white voters (seems to me I remember a shit storm when Hillary referred to the “hard working, white Americans” referring to Obama’s problem in that demographic, since obviously he didn’t have problems with the hard working, black Americans, why would she include them in her statement, notice the placement of the comma) But I digress, the fact that after both of the Pastorgate controversies no one said anything about the excitement level (the hooping and hollering) of the blacks listening during the very sexist and blatant racists statements being said of Clinton.

This point is strictly anecdotal, but I drive a truck for a living (which is why I am James from somewhere new every time I call) and I meet many people every day, at truck stops, shippers, receivers, you name it. I also have a Hillary Clinton for President sticker on my truck. I on two occasions in different states was called a N*****HATER in Mississippi and a Klansman in Georgia, both of these comments were made by black people and all based on a sticker I have in my window. This brings me to my concern, will electing Obama bring about a movement where black racism against whites will be commonplace and come out of the proverbial closet??? I seems to have been excused this entire primary process from the supporters of the black candidate, and for the white candidate it seemed to be a minefield covered by eggshells.

I have to ask does this concern you Mike or anyone else? Is this something that anyone but me things needs to be discussed. Where I will NEVER vote for John McCain, I think this being unchecked could seriously damage the Democratic Party’s chances of retaining the White House in the years to come. Please let me know what you think.

Now, the behavior of these people in these two instances is ridiculous and offensive — and it’s inexcusable. That does not mean, however, by default, all black people feel that way, or all white people who voted for Hillary are racist. Barack Obama ran a campaign that intentionally did not focus on race — it always came up in the context of someone else raising it. But it was raised, and the heat generated from it laid bare all the discussions we haven’t had as a country about race.

I agree with the commenter that leaving the feelings out there unanalyzed and unchecked is damaging — but precious few people want to speak frankly about their fears and feelings on this subject.

How can we pull apart and discuss these issues? We cannot continue to bury them — all this does is benefit the GOP, which loves seeing this unfold.

UPDATE: I wanted to include this exchange over at Pandagon (where I cross post), because it adds another dimension to the issue:

My parents are in their sixties both of them are lifelong Democrats and right now both of them are saying they wont vote for Obama.  I think they may change their minds as they are afraid of what McCain might do to the economy, especially as it relates to social security and medicare.

Both of them say they don’t trust Obama, and I think they don’t trust him because he doesn’t live up, or down, to what they expect a black person to be.  In other words in their mind black people are not supposed to care about white people, so he must be faking it when he talks about programs that would help the entire country, including white americans.

It is hard to explain but it seems that if you have low expectations of someone when they exceed those expectations it is like you assume they are cheating, if you know anyone who teaches high school you can see this at work whenever they grade papers.

My response there was:

Personally, this is the kind of thing that makes me feel hollow sometimes makes me feel despair. I’ve had to deal with not being “black enough”, or hailed for being “not like most black people” or some other insane yardstick of judgment that I’m sure rings true for many POC out there. If you’re too smart, you’re arrogant and uppity, if you aren’t brilliant enough or make mistakes most human beings do, then you represent all of the black, low-info, shiftless underclass. Having been the first or only black person in many of the professional positions I’ve held, I’m keenly aware that white privilege means I’m a racial stand-in for a whole group of people, and that any POC who follow me will be judged, fairly or unfairly, by the trail I’ve blazed.  I cannot even begin to imagine the pressure on Barack Obama.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding