There is a striking moment in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 when members of the Congressional Black Caucus petition Congress to re-examine the 2000 election results. One by one, African Americans from the lower chamber, the House of Representatives, approached the dais and explained that, in light of the large number of black voters who were turned away from the polls in Florida, the results were invalid. In order to have their grievance tabled and discussed, they needed one senator to support them. The motion fell because not one of the 100 senators, two for each state in the union, was prepared to back them. Not one senator was black. Come November 3, that will change. For the first time in American history, both the main candidates in a senate race are black. In the election to replace the Republican senator Peter Fitzgerald, of Illinois, the Democrats are fielding Barack Obama, 43. His only gaffe during the Democratic party convention in Boston was to deliver a speech that was so well received that it threatened to overshadow John Kerry's. For the Republicans there is Alan Keyes, 54, an ultra-religious former ambassador to Unesco who stood in 2000 for the Republican presidential nomination.And their take on Keyes:
Mr Keyes' brand of religious zealotry, maverick tendencies (last week he embraced reparations for slavery), and theatrical flourishes (he has branded Mr Obama's pro-choice stance as "the slaveowner's position"), does not play well in midwest heartlands. Nor do his Republican affiliation and anti-affirmative action stances please African Americans.