Setting the Record Straight

May 16, 2008

Can Obama Overcome Racism?

Filed under: politics — straightrecord @ 10:00 pm
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Early on in this long, hard slog of the presidential primaries, it was obvious this one was going to be unique. With nearly a year of campaigning, the Democratic Party’s selection came down to the decision of superdelegates. The jump of superdelegates to Obama’s side, as we said in another post, “Case for a Brokered Convention,” this may not have been a good idea.

          There was widespread fear in the party that dragging out the campaign between Obama and Hillary Clinton would tear the party apart, but nothing could be farther from the truth. John McCain struggled for the past several weeks to get any attention while all the news centered around the Obama-Clinton primary battles. News is just what it says–something that is new or unusual. McCain’s candidacy is neither, while the Democratic drama and the situation that fathered it remain news. Obviously, the latter got the ink.
          Getting this constant attention is good for the Democrats. It is almost like the old saying, allegedly by a bimbo actress: “I don’t care what you say about me as long as you spell my name right.” Any publicity is good publicity, and in this situation, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have been thoroughly vetted and already have taken far more heat than McCain can dish out, regardless of whether the Republican Party comes up with another Kevin Phillips, Lee Atwater or Karl Rove.
          Yes, Clinton supporters were upset and angry because their candidate did not win. But these two candidates respect each other, agree with each other 99 percent of the time and even like each other. For a long time, there was little doubt either would campaign vigorously for the other in the fall.
          As for Obama’s chances of winning in the fall? Take a look at the Boston Globe’s map of the primaries at the top of this post. That blue line of six states stretching from Louisiana through North Carolina and into the southern half of Virginia,  comprises a big chunk of Obama’s much-touted number of states won. He won those six states because only Democrats were casting the votes in a Democratic primary.

           It is sad to say this in 2008, but racism still exists in this country and racism still prevails in those six states, as it has since before and after the old-line Democrats switched parties in the aftermath of the civil rights victories of the 1960s. Obama’s chances of winning any of those states in a general election where a Republican majority will be casting votes are very slim. That is particularly true if McCain gets a boost from a new Phillips, Atwater or Rove. Perhaps 2012 or 2016 will be better years for Obama to run.
          Who wants to wager the superdelegates will not be considering the impact of an Obama fall campaign on that huge group of Electoral College votes?

          The Democratic Party’s cadre of superdelegates may be the best instrument it has if it wants to win the presidential election this fall. Those delegates would be well-advised to hang on to their convention vote instead of jumping on an Obama bandwagon now or paying off old debts to the Clintons.
          The superdelegates should take control of the party and overrule a highly
flawed primary system if it they consider either candidate unelectable, for whatever reasons.
           The United States has come a long way in giving women and blacks something approaching equality with the ruling white males, but anyone with a realistic bone in his or her body has to acknowledge sexism and racism are still present in our society.
and thus Hillary Clinton as president, may be able to overcome the prejudice against a woman in the White House by their sheer numbers–a slight majority of the U.S. population, a large majority of the voters.
can blacks and a man of their race win a national election today? 
          Remember that map of the United States with states colored blue if they voted Democratic and red if they voted Republican? In 1964, the southern
states would have been painted a solid blue (except Arizona, home state of the GOP candidate). Now the same states are quadrennially painted a solid
red. What happened? Racism.
          That’s right. More than 40 years after the Civil Rights Act that singlehandedly changed the South from a swatch of blue to one of red, racism still
abounds in the country. Racists and people with biases in that direction tend to vote Republican. And southern states vote Republican these days. All of the southern states voted for George W. Bush in the extremely tight 2000 election and have done so since the Democratic party and President Lyndon
Johnson, an ironic Democratic son of the South, engineered the rights act.
          Yes, Obama won in those six southern states. But those were Democrats voting, in Democratic primaries.
Twelve states considered southern or that usually vote with southern states next door, plus Utah, have 171 Electoral College votes. That number is just two-thirds of the 270 total needed to elected a president. In a close race in the fall, automatically losing a third of the majority of electoral votes could be disastrous for the Democrats.
          Yes, many Republican women strangely retain a hatred for Clinton, but since there are far more women voters than men voters in the United
States, that hatred is not likely to be able to swing a sexist bias to an entire state.
          Superdelegates who signed on or consider signing on to an Obama bandwagon before the convention should have second thoughts. Give Obama eight
more years of experience, which he sorely needs, either as a senator or vice president, and the possibility of a black president may be easier for those
American racists still with us in 2016 to swallow. Let us try to break down one barrier at a time.
          (Utah is important in the calculation because while several southern states split away from red to vote for Jimmy Carter of Georgia and/or for Bill Clinton
of Arkansas, Utah has been consistently red. The state is overwhelmingly Mormon, a religion that discriminated officially against blacks until 1978. Many members subscribe to the founders’ strange idea that brother-killer Cain was black, even though, according to the same Bible that discusses the slaying, only two other people existed
on Earth when Cain was born–Adam and Eve.
has become the Camelot candidate for the Democrats, ginning up an excitement that harkens back to the presidency of Jack Kennedy. That may be a good feeling and something to hope for, but Democrats may be better off deferring that hope for a few more years.

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