“It’s in my DNA to unify all Americans,” Barack Obama has said repeatedly.
Obama’s biracial genotype and multicultural family background is a call to new-blooded Americans, including immigrants, to reach for the American dream.
The opposition, on the other hand, has been disputing Obama’s “full-blooded” Americanism. In a melding of genomics and politics, several conservative columnists and talk show hosts would like to examine Obama’s DNA under the microscope, literally and figuratively.
We all know that race is not a biological category but a political and social one, especially, in a nation of immigrants.
When people lived in geographically isolated societies, race, language, culture and borders were tightly nested. Rapid travel, information revolution and globalization obliterated these 20th century ideas and paved the way for an American brand of multiculturalism.
The idea that there are hard-wired, essential differences between the races will take a drubbing with the rise of the Obama democrats and the coming of Obamagenomics.
Sen. Obama introduced The Genomics and Personalized Medicine Act of 2006 to advance medical research and innovation. By setting aside funding for genomics research, providing tax incentives, modernizing the FDA and CMS, and offering greater consumer protections, this legislation will lead to the development of new therapies and diagnostic tests.
As Craig Venter has said “we need medicine tailored to your genome, not your race”.
Most of us share 99.9% of the human genome; this is the inheritance of the human race. The remaining .1% accounts for individual variation in phenotypic differences, such as, eye and skin color or hard-wired pharmacoethnic outcomes, like the clinical response to pharmaceutical drugs.
Now, some political pundits would like us to believe that there is a liberal and a conservative gene running through our blood. Somehow, the conservative genes are more “full-blooded” American than liberal genes or independent genes.
Obama was able to unify diverse voices as the president of the Harvard Law Review. When he took to the stage at the DNC convention, a remarkably diverse body of delegates was in the audience, representing a large gathering of supporters and approximately 40 million viewers watching at home.
America’s tremendous human capital, a necessary pre-condition for fighting the challenges of globalization, was at display in the last few weeks. The DNC delegates were 43% minority, 25% African American, and consisted of more women than men. The diversity was forward looking, an early sign of the demographic changes that will sweep this country by mid-century, according to the latest report from the US census bureau.
The RNC convention by comparison showed signs of attrition in the ranks, with only 13% minorities, 1.5% of African American delegates, and one-third women; the Palin nomination was meant to be a course correction to excite the faithful.
As this election has shown, it is the natural genius of the American experiment that new-blooded Americans renew the nation’s promise in successive generations. The mounting evidence from genomics in the coming decades, advanced by the greater support from governmental and private agencies, will relegate the concept of race to a dark vestige of America’s past.