Why are we lying to ourselves: Race and Politics 2008
by Robert Salaam
My grandparents vividly described to me what America was like not even 40 years ago when they were my age.
There were protests, riots, and turmoil in general because of racial bias and discrimination which produced the lack of civil rights and equality. In many places in America injustice based on race was systemic, prevalent, and obviously problematic.
But why did this happen?
There exists in many Americans minds a concept that is based purely on the idea that one is superior or inferior based on the color of their skin. This concept has permeated American conscience so much that the actions produced based on the adherence to these ideas are often historical. Slavery, Jim Crow, etc. were all actions, institutions, and practices that were a result of this concept rooted in intolerance and ignorance.
My grandparents like many their age know all too well how this concept can manifest itself in the ugliest ways.
While many of these ugly manifestations are history and rarely rear their ugly heads, we would be foolish to believe that this mindset has disappeared as well.
Many of the socio-economic issues in America in of themselves are by products of this history. In some isolated incidents this history even today is not that at all.
Our biggest problem as Americans is that we act as if we have a collective amnesia about this history. We have convinced ourselves that these issues were in the distant past and it’s time to move on. Yet, over and over we are reminded in subtle ways and sometimes extreme, that we are fools to believe we are over this history just yet.
Case in point, is the 2008 Presidential Election. On one hand, this election proves how far we have moved collectively as a country. I often remind blacks about the makeup of the Democratic Party and the supporters of Obama, placing emphasis on how his very success wouldn’t be possible if we hadn’t made great strides in America.
However, what helps to spoil this great achievement that we have right now 40 years after Dr. King was assassinated is the fact that there is a huge group of Americans who support both Senator Obama and Senator McCain primarily due to race. What’s even more sickening is politicians and campaigns are preying on this sickness to their advantage. What’s disgraceful is the media’s attempt to cover this up by using code words to disguise the obvious that cause us to openly lie about what is going on.
This first became very apparent during the Clinton - Obama war of 2008. While many believed that race was a reason that determined the viability of either in certain constituencies, no one was willing to actually say it. Instead the media helped aid us in our cover-up by alluding to the population of certain states with an added “wink, wink”. Like South Carolina, where they kept reminding us of the “African-American population” as in to insinuate that Obama would win because blacks would just out and out vote for Obama because he was black. This was sad and true in some instances, but the media in my humble opinion only led us in that direction to help balance what we all knew was coming…..The truth is, blacks mathematically, are not supporting Obama just because he’s black. We have short memories…..Ever since Obama was working on the South Side of Chicago, there were many blacks who didn’t support him because he wasn’t “black enough”, then only after getting to know him, did they ever warm up to him. This was also true in the primary, almost 80% of blacks supported Hillary Clinton in the beginning, in fact every Democratic candidate and President since Clinton have had black support between 80-90%. Blacks, while very conservative, often lean Democrat due to social stances on the issues.
So this whole thing was spun to balance out the inevitable, which was in rare form during the West Virginia primary where voters actually admitted they wouldn’t vote for a black guy. Now rather than the media being responsible and reminding people how ignorant and backward they truly were, they helped coin terms that could be conveniently used such as “blue collar, working class, etc.”
Everyone knows that those are code terms for white people period. Why won’t we just say it, a huge chunk of white people won’t vote for Obama because he’s black. This group supported Clinton and now that she’s gone even though 99% of her policies are identical to Obama, this group in great numbers are now supporting McCain.
Which of course people did start bringing up the issues differences and how it didn’t make sense, so then McCain got creative and gave them a scape-goat: In comes Sarah Palin.
Think about it: They keep telling us how she is like “one of us” How so? I don’t know anyone like her personally and I’m certain many of you don’t either. I just don’t know that many moose-hunting, Evangelical, “small town”, women. Maybe it’s just me. But who is this “us” that she is so much like?
So now those who belong to the “us” you know the hard working, blue collar, middle class, which somehow doesn’t include minorities (the majority of whom support Obama) who used to support Clinton and the Democratic party are now supporting McCain-Palin for what? Surely not policy.
So rather than call it out as it is, we aid them and ourselves because we don’t want to admit the ugliness that still exists in America, by allowing them to pretend they are so enthusiastic about McCain now that he chose Sarah Palin because she’s just like one of them right?
America has come along way, but it looks like we still have a long way to go. When people purposely vote against their interests and vote for someone who they would never support otherwise primarily due to policy, that to me, says it all.
I’m certain there are some who vote on policy, but as the McCain camp said and are pushing (i.e. taking advantage of this reality) this election will not be about issues but personality. The “personality” that the McCain camp is openly pushing is, don’t vote for this guy, he’s black remember.
Think about it: “America First”, the constant chants of “USA”, “Small town America”, these are all loaded codewords. Is Obama against America? Are the Democrats not US citizens and are all from big cities?
Why else would 60+ percent of a largely Democratic voting bloc support McCain when 80% of the country disapproves of the direction this country is in and President Bush has about a 70% disapproval rating while John McCain supports Bush 90% of the time and Palin is to the right of both of them?
Visit Robert Salaam’s site at http://salaamsblog.wordpress.com/