US voters focus more on political parties than race

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in making the point that race matters in an election, gave the example of the United States presidential election in 2008, saying that fewer than half of white Americans (43 per cent) voted for Mr Barack Obama, but 95 per cent of African-Americans cast their ballots for him ("Race still counts in politics and at the ballot box"; Monday).

I disagree that race made a big difference in the US election. A deeper examination reveals that Americans voted very much along party lines, rather than racial ones, in 2008.

African-Americans have, for a long time, voted overwhelmingly for Democratic Party candidates in presidential elections. For instance, Mr John Kerry, the Democratic candidate in 2004, won 88 per cent of the African-American vote, but only 41 per cent of the white vote, even though he is white.

Voters clearly focused on the individual and political party they believed were the best for their country.

I hope our Government gleans the right lesson from the US election.

I hope that Singaporeans will have the chance to choose a president from candidates of any race.

Surely we can be trusted to have the sense, maturity and patriotism to vote for a minority president if he is the best person for the job and the best choice for our country.

Tan Soon Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2016, with the headline 'US voters focus more on political parties than race'. Print Edition | Subscribe