Race Influences White Opposition to Obama Healthcare Law

An intriguing analysis by Judy Lubin on the Huffington Post dissects how much race plays a role in subconsciously forming white peoples’ opposition to President Obama initiatives such as healthcare reform.

As the nation analyzes the fallout from the Supreme Court’s 5-4 vote to uphold the healthcare law, it is crucial we try to figure out why so many white Americans are opposed to a law designed to help so many of them who don’t have health insurance.

Lubin describes several studies that have been done by researchers at Brown University and at Vanderbilt, who devised experiments to see how much racial attitudes spill over into feelings about public policy proposals that have no explicit connection to race. Michael Tesler, a political science professor at Brown, found that antiblack stereotypes were a strong predictor of how people felt about healthcare reform, and when subjects were told that proposals were initiated by President Clinton instead of Obama, their opposition to the proposals decreased.

Vanderbilt researchers Monique Lyle and Syndey Jones reported similar findings that Obama’s racial identity colored the feelings of many white people about the healthcare law.

Lubin points out that the media also plays a role, describing his policies using terms such as “government spending” which many white people associate with welfare, blacks, the poor, homeless and other vulnerable groups.


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