The Declining Significance of Presidential Races?

Law & Contemporary Problems, Vol. 72, 2010

U Iowa Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-12

26 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2010  

Angela Onwuachi-Willig

University of Iowa College of Law

Osamudia R. James

University of Miami School of Law

Date Written: February 23, 2010

Abstract

This Symposium Essay examines the campaign that led up to the last presidential election to illuminate the complex interplay between race and class within our society. Specifically, it explores how race and class functioned together to disadvantage President Obama in the race to the White House (even as he ultimately won the election). Section II focuses on how Obama’s income, job status, and prestigious education functioned as markers of elitism during the campaign, even as compared to opponents with more elite and wealthier backgrounds, and how these factors were used as tools by his opponents to convince lower-class white voters not to support his bid for the Presidency. Section III addresses the ways in which Obama’s adversaries shamelessly foisted negative stereotypes about “lower-class” Blacks upon both Obama and his wife Michelle in order to mark the Obamas as “other” and thus unworthy of life in the White House. Finally, Section IV concludes by exploring the unique challenges that these interactions may present for policymakers, particularly on issues such as affirmative action, desegregation and integration in public schools, and employment.

Keywords: Obama, Racism, Class, Race, Classism, Stereotype, Black, Whiteness, Political, Election, President

Suggested Citation

Onwuachi-Willig, Angela and James, Osamudia R., The Declining Significance of Presidential Races? (February 23, 2010). Law & Contemporary Problems, Vol. 72, 2010; U Iowa Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-12. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1557968

Angela Onwuachi-Willig (Contact Author)

University of Iowa College of Law ( email )

290 Boyd Law Building
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States

Osamudia R. James

University of Miami School of Law ( email )

1311 Miller Drive
Coral Gables, FL 33146
United States
305.284.5837 (Phone)

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