How Perceptions of Race and Sex Impact the 2016 Presidential Election | William Jelani Cobb

How can we chart moral progress? One popular narrative holds that it increases steadily, rising over time. But Jelani Cobb argues it happens in fits and starts, like an EKG line that spikes and falls. Cobb’s latest book is “The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress” (


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Transcript – One of the things that tends to characterize the way Americans think about progress is that we think of it as a kind of straight line, you know. We have like the X-axis and the Y-axis and the kind of line going diagonally upward and that is American progress. As time goes here we get better. And that’s actually a false narrative. That’s not an accurate way of looking at the way the country has progressed. In this country progress has more often looked like kind of like an EKG where we have these moments and then we have these values and then we have these moments. And that may slope upward over time. But it certainly has the kind of peak and valley effect to it. And with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign we’ve actually seen almost kind of overlapping things where we’re seeing peaks and valleys simultaneously. So it represents a form of progress that an American woman could be nominated for the presidency of a major political party and is not coincidental that that nomination coincides with the most egregiously breathtakingly vulgar expressions of sexism and misogyny that we’ve seen in American politics. We quite simply don’t have a frame of reference for this but both of those things happen at the same time. Read Full Transcript Here:



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