Obama And The Race Question In America
Make no mistake, Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama is another in the line of garden variety liberals who have been that party’s candidates over the past half century or so and therefore no more supportable by militant leftists that any of the others. No more and no less. That is the beginning of wisdom for us here. Nevertheless Obama's nomination does represent one significant different from past Democratic candidacies- his race. A not unimportant difference as this misbegotten presidential race heats up and the question of race will, one way or the other, raise its ugly head. Obama’s nomination, in the final analysis, is significant-for him- not so for the vast majority of blacks (and others for that matter). The reasons for that situation I have addressed in other commentaries in this space and will in the future. What I want to discuss today though is this question of whether Obama is electable today in this racially-divided society.
Part of Obama’s drawing card among some whites and others has been a deliberate strategy of arguing for a post-racial candidacy (I know, I know to even mention such a thing seems absurd on its face given the historical and current racial realities.). That appeal had a certain very real cachet among the young, well-educated urban college types, up and coming blacks and other minorities. Frankly, if wishes were reality it would be very appealing. But here is the nut. This election is about votes and, more narrowly, swing votes in a few key states if the past several presidential elections are any indication.
Frankly, as the numbers are starting to firm up things are starting to look grim for Obama’s chances. An in-depth recent poll I looked at told the tale that is the real face of American society, at least its voting segment. Obama, despite some cold water from die hard Hillary supporters, is very solid with the woman vote. He is obviously solid with the urbane young and virtually all blacks, no question there. He is also, and here is the kicker, solid with the very poor and lower white working class (family incomes under $50,000) that Hillary bashed him over the head with in the spring primaries. In short he looks good thus far for holding many of the old Democratic coalition segments together. So where is the problem?
The problem is the white suburban vote that has tended to call itself independent as it has left the cities but has swung Republican over the past several elections. Mainly, from what I can gather, this is now a second generation (at least) out in the suburbs. And that is the rub. One way of dealing with race (or better, racial fears and hatred) is to walk away from it, if you can. This segment has, generally, walked away from the cities with its teeming minorities. Thus the hard symbol of racial segregation is no longer the rope or the separate facilities but the “gated” community (I mean that metaphorically here). This is no the "white trash" of literary mention but those with some college, some money and many frustrations. These, moreover, are the people I live among. That is the deep, dark secret of American racism and ultimately why Obama is in serious trouble. More later as the campaign progresses (if that is the right term for this thing).