Thursday, July 08, 2010
Earl Ofari Hutchinson
In quick succession J. Christian Adams, a former Justice Department attorney, strongly implied in his testimony to the Civil Rights Commission that the word came down from on White House high to the Justice Department to dump a voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia. Adams just as strongly implied that the White House put the word out to play hard ball on discrimination cases when the victims are minorities, and soft peddle the same type cases when the victims are white. The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch quickly announced a lawsuit against the DOJ to hand over documents on the case. Not to be outdone, Rush Limbaugh gassed that Obama hates America (meaning whites) and that he’s deliberately torpedoing the economy to “payback” the nation for 230 years of racial sins against blacks.
Any other time, and with any other president, this would be treated exactly for what it is, sheer lunacy. But this not any other time, and the president is Obama. The suspicion that always lurks close to the surface is that an African-American once in a position of power will turn the tables and “payback” whites for the decades of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, racial violence, abuse, degradation and exclusion. The two decade assault on affirmative action firmly implanted the widespread belief that unfit and unqualified minorities and especially blacks were hell bent to shove whites aside and grab all the plum positions. It was reverse discrimination and racism. It was a short step from this to the notion that racism is virtually dead in America, except for the racism of blacks. This set the stage to tag Obama the reverse racist.
The shouts, taunts, spitting, catcalls, Obama joker posters, Confederate and Texas Lone Star flag waved by tea party activists was not just a naked, spasmodic race baiting by unreconstructed bigots. Many passionately believe that Obama is determined to give the company store away to minorities, especially blacks. Every chance he gets he’ll dump more money, devise more programs, and propose favorable legislation that favor blacks and minorities at the expense of whites. An Obama White House will bend, twist, and mangle laws to aid and abet black advancement. No matter how much Obama talks about being president of all the people, downplays race, and has an impeccable record on broad race neutral legislation, he’s still a reverse bigot.
The knock of Obama as a racist is much more than mindless dribble it serves a canny political purpose. The starting point is the 2008 campaign. The GOP could not have been competitive during campaign 2008 without the bail out from white male voters. Blue collar white voters have shrunk from more than half of the nation's voters to less than forty percent. The assumption based solely on this slide and the increased minority population numbers and regional demographic changes is that the GOP's white vote strategy is doomed to fail. This ignores three political facts. Elections are usually won by candidates with a solid and impassioned core of bloc voters. White males, particularly older white males, vote consistently and faithfully. They vote in a far greater percentage than Hispanics and blacks.
GOP leaders have long known that blue collar white male voters can be easily aroused to vote and shout loudly on the emotional wedge issues; abortion, family values, anti-gay marriage and tax cuts. They whipped up their hysteria and borderline racism against health care reform. This was glaringly apparent in the ferocity and bile spouted by the shock troops the GOP leaders in consort with the tea party activists brought out to harangue, harass and bully Democrat legislators on the eve of the final health care vote. These are the very voters that GOP presidents and aspiring presidents, Nixon, Reagan, Bush Sr. and W. Bush, and McCain and legions of GOP governors, senators and congresspersons banked for victory and to seize and maintain regional and national political dominance.
The GOP's win with the white vote failed in 2008 only because of the rage and disgust of legions of white voters at Bush's horribly failed and flawed domestic and war policies. This was more a personal and visceral reaction to the bumbles of Bush than a radical and permanent sea change in overall white voter sentiment about Obama, the Democrats, and the GOP. Even if the GOP is, as is widely seen, an insular party of Deep South and narrow Heartland, rural and, non-college educated blue-collar whites this is not a voting demographic to mock, ridicule or be sneered at, let alone dismiss, because the numbers are still huge.
Adams, Limbaugh, the tea party activists, and GOP leaders have crudely but effectively programmed millions to think of and see Obama as their worst racial nightmare. To them, he’s a black man who has real power and will lord it over whites. It’s the worst kind of con, but for the Obama loathers selling the con is all that matters.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts a nationally broadcast political affairs radio talk show on Pacifica and KTYM Radio Los Angeles.
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