History shows race-baiting — both implied and overt — may loom large over the 2008 elections, according to a new report by the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law and Goldman School of Public Policy.
“Race-Bait ’08: Lessons Learned from the Political Dirty Dozen” reviews 24 years of campaigning and examines 12 campaigns in which the use of race made the difference; candidates who played the race card to mobilize or drive away voters soundly defeated their opponents, often coming from behind to win.
“It’s not only Barack Obama who will have to combat race-based tactics,” said Berkeley Law School Dean Chris Edley, an Obama supporter who co-sponsored a Piedmont fundraiser for the candidate in June. “Any politician who backs positions that appeal to minorities is vulnerable.”
In coming to grips with this political tactic, Edley — who was among Obama’s teachers at Harvard Law School — says it is vital to understand how appeals to racial bigotry, both subtle and unsubtle, have been used in the past. And it’s critical to assess how—with new media, new messages and new messengers—the race card may be used in the 2008 campaign.