When I was in high school, Mr. Hiller, my government teacher, asked every girl in the class to stand up.

Then he asked every student who was not white and whose parents weren’t white to stand up. After some looking at one another, most did.

He then asked everybody whose last name ends in a vowel other than “e” to stand up. They did so.

Then he said requested that everyone in the class that is not a protestant to stand up. The couple Jewish kids in the class and a Catholic or two stood up. It was when he said that anyone that had just stood up on the basis that they’re Catholic can sit down if their parents are millionaires that I knew what he was getting at.

Then, to the three-quarters of the class standing up, he said, “You will never be president when you grow up.”

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13 Responses to Undone

  1. Webmaster says:

    And with the Senate/House balance… welcome to four years of hell, unless there’s a massive flip on those come 2010.

    Interestingly, despite Obama getting more votes than expected in Colosse’s locality, he has no “coattails” – there are no races I know of where his win also helped anyone flip a Senate/House seat (actually we’re an anomaly in that one House seat flipped back to Republican).

  2. trumwill says:

    This isn’t about the political ramifications, Web.

  3. Peter says:

    It took me a while to figure out the vowel other than “e” part.

  4. Beth says:

    Amazing how many things were dumped down the toilet last night isn’t it?

  5. Kirk says:

    Just as the moon landing gave rise to the phrase, “They can put a man on the moon, but they can’t make a _____ that wont’ break the moment the warranty expires,” I imagine having a black President will give rise to a similar phrase. I don’t know what exactly that phrase will be, but I can imagine.

    Wife, to black husband: “If a black man can become President, the least you can do is lower the lid when you’re done with the toilet.”

  6. Peter says:

    Based on Webmaster’s comment, I now realize that “Colosse” is not the city I’d always thought it was.

  7. Webmaster says:

    I’ve never had any faith in the supposed “if you’re a member of group X you’ll never be president” nonsense, Will. I really think that’s vastly overdone.

    As for the rest… a whole lot of people are hailing this as the “victory” of the dream of MLK Jr… I just don’t know. I think more people than should, voted on the basis of the skin color of their candidate (on both sides) rather than “the content of his character” as the dream was phrased.

  8. Brandon Berg says:

    Given the trends of the prior 20-30 years, it was pretty silly of him to make predictions about something 40-50 years in the future.

    Personally, I’m not thrilled at the prospect of a generation of young black children growing up aspiring to become politicians. I want them (and white children, too) aspiring to grow up and become productive members of society like doctors, engineers, and entrepreneurs.

  9. trumwill says:

    Kirk, well said 🙂

  10. trumwill says:

    When Hiller was told that he was wrong, he pointed to the astonishing dearth of minorities and women as senators and governors and asked where the first minority/woman/non-protestant president was going to come from, exactly?

    I was extremely hostile to his remark when he made it, but when I took a step back and over the years it resonated. I don’t think I ever believed that no one in those groups would ever be elected in my lifetime (thinking along the same lines as Brandon), but I came to the conclusion that it was unlikely to be any time soon. If you’d have offered $100 bet on 20-1 odds that we’d have a black president before 2020, I doubt that I would have accepted.

    Web, you believe that I strongly overestimate the degree to which racism is an impediment to minorities and I believe you strongly underestimate it, and we don’t have time to argue that here, but one thing that became extremely clear to me as I watched it all unfold last night was an African-American being elected president was something that a lot of blacks did not think would actually happen. Or at least feared could not actually happen on an emotional level.

    We can argue as to how much of that is the victimhood-mongering of certain black leaders and how much of that skepticism was reasonable, but at the end of the day I think that it is something that is extremely hard for you or I to fully appreciate on the outside looking in. We can think of things in the abstract like “Sure, if the right black candidate ever came along, he could win”, but with that kind of vague criteria (as well as the infertile soil from which a nationally-electable black candidate can actually grow) I don’t think that it’s entirely paranoia on the part of blacks to think that the American voting public would find every black candidate that makes it to the stage wanting for some vague reason or another.

    Brandon, honestly, I’m not that worried about young black children aiming for the presidency and missing. If it encourages them to take schooling seriously, they’ll land a lot better than they otherwise might. Compare that to those that they might pin their hopes on, it’s an improvement. Same goes for whites that want to grow up to be president. It might be better if they want to go more directly towards something that might be more productive and realistic, but I’ll take it.

  11. Kirk says:


  12. Becky says:

    I’m not surprised Colosse voted for Obama at all, having lived very near that area before. In fact if any area in that state would’ve voted for Obama, it would’ve been that one.

    I can’t believe your teacher said that to a bunch of students, though unlike Webmaster, I think a lot of people really believe that until now.

    I have no doubt that some people voted based upon skin color, just as if Hilary won, people would have voted based upon gender. But, peoples’ votes are going to be swung by many reasons that other people may not agree with and it’s not really our position to pass judgment on that.

  13. trumwill says:

    I think what’s worth noting here is that being black is not enough to win an election (even the Democratic primary!) and it’s not enough to lose (in a year favorable to Democrats). We’re certainly not at the point that there’s no net loss/gain (there seems to be some disagreement on the matter), but the fact that the election was not won or lost on the basis of his race is significant and (even if one has deep misgivings about what Obama plans to do) heartening.

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