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Racially Polarised Partisanship and the Obama Presidency

Part of the Studies of the Americas book series (STAM)

Abstract

Many commentators described the election of Barack Obama in 2008 as a moment in which voters put aside race and voted for president on a non-racial basis. This account of ‘colour-blind’ electoral politics contrasts sharply with lingering racial divisions in American society. This chapter sets out to reconcile this apparent paradox, arguing that Obama’s election and reelection were, in fact, not ‘colour-blind’ moments but represented the most racially polarised elections in recent US history. Relatedly, this chapter confronts commentators who have argued that Obama’s relative silence on racial matters is a demonstration of his ‘transcendence’ of race, evidence of a colour-blind political philosophy, or a ‘deracialised’ approach to governance. It argues that structural forces—particularly the confluence of racial attitudes and partisanship at the national and state levels—help to explain the limited success of his policy agenda.

Keywords

  • Race
  • Racism
  • ‘Deracialisation’
  • Obama

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-41033-3_7
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Johnson, R. (2017). Racially Polarised Partisanship and the Obama Presidency. In: Ashbee, E., Dumbrell, J. (eds) The Obama Presidency and the Politics of Change. Studies of the Americas. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-41033-3_7

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