What if Obama…? What if McCain…?

I think I’ve been decidedly quite quiet on who I support in the upcoming election, quite honestly because I don’t feel that I’ve paid enough attention to each candidate’s position to have an informed discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of their respective platforms. However, today I received the following in an email, and I think the use of hypothetical role reversal creates an interesting case.

Ponder the following:

What if the Obamas had paraded five children across the stage, including a three month old infant and an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter?

What if John McCain was a former president of the Harvard Law Review? What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class?

What if McCain had only married once, and Obama was a divorcee?

What if Obama was the candidate who left his first wife after a severe disfiguring car accident, when she no longer measured up to his standards?

What if Obama had met his second wife in a bar and had a long affair while he was still married?

What if Michelle Obama was the wife who not only became addicted to pain killers but also acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?

What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?

What if Obama had been a member of the Keating Five? (The Keating Five were five United States Senators accused of corruption in 1989, igniting a major political scandal as part of the larger Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s.)

What if McCain was a charismatic, eloquent speaker?

What if Obama was the one who had military experience that included discipline problems and a record of crashing seven planes?

What if Obama was the one who was known to display publicly, on many occasions, a serious anger management problem?

What if Michelle Obama’s family had made their money from beer distribution?

What if the Obamas had adopted a white child?

You could easily add to this list. If these questions reflected reality, do you really believe the election numbers would be as close as they are? Some might say that this is what racism does. That it covers up, rationalizes and minimizes positive qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities in another when there is a color difference.

The use of hypothetical arguments can be incredibly powerful to expose the default biases, the prejudices and potential blindnesses, that we intentionally or unintentionally subscribe to given assumed contexts. When we redefine those contexts, our views of right and wrong can shift dramatically. Consider the closing arguement from the movie A Time To Kill, as performed by Matthew McConaughey.


Educational Background

Barack Obama:

  • Columbia University – B.A. Political Science with Specialization in International Relations.
  • Harvard – Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

Joseph Biden:

  • University of Delaware – B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science.
  • Syracuse University College of Law – Juris Doctor (J.D.)

John McCain:

  • United States Naval Academy – Class rank: 894 of 899

Sarah Palin:

  • Hawaii Pacific University – 1 semester
  • North Idaho College – 2 semesters – general study
  • University of Idaho – 2 semesters – journalism
  • Matanuska-Susitna College – 1 semester
  • University of Idaho – 3 semesters – B.A. in Journalism

Clearly, this list was complied by Obama supporters, and as such is written to color perspective in his favor. Certainly McCain supporters could compile a similar list. Indeed, if you are a McCain supporter, and you’ve made it this far in my post, I encourage you to create the counter argument in the same format. Post it or a link to it in the comments. Let any readers who are as of yet undecided see both side.

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  1. #1 by Devon Adams on November 3, 2008 - 5:52 pm

    Fresh comments unlike the propaganda I’ve been getting in my email. I’ve already voted but – don’t shove slanted info down anyone’s throat. Thank you! 🙂

  2. #2 by Ben on November 3, 2008 - 5:53 pm

    Just thought I’d let you know there’s a typo – you accidentally typed “quite” instead of “quiet” in the beginning of the first sentence of your post. I don’t mind if you delete this after you fix it.

  3. #3 by Ms. Herr on November 3, 2008 - 6:26 pm

    Ben, thank you for pointing out the typo. They are a particular pet peeve of mine.

    Devon, my interest in this piece stemmed more from the approach that was taken than which candidate it was slanted toward. I issued the invitation for someone to provide the opposing argument using the same techniques. What might I learn if they did?

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