Over the past few years, since Barack Obama has been President, I have been involved in numerous discussions of his policies, actions, statements and philosophies with many different people, mostly friends and associates but also strangers via Facebook and through comments after various political articles. Some of these discussions have gotten heated, some fairly petty, and others have been drawn out and meaningful. I have learned some things and have disregarded others but have always enjoyed the communication.
During some of these discussions it has been said (or insinuated) that I’m a racist because I don’t support President Obama’s agenda. It has even been suggested by some (no one who knows me well) that anyone who disagrees with President Obama does so only because they’re racist. People like that simply cannot understand, apparently, that while there certainly are those who dislike President Obama because he’s black, many of us on the right simply disagree with what he stands for, both politically and philosophically. The race card seems to be far too easy for some people to throw on the table in an effort to keep people from disparaging the President over his policies or beliefs.
There’s a good chance I’ll upset some people with what I’m writing today but I’m wondering whether or not to be offended by what I saw earlier this morning. I saw a news report and video in which President Obama announced he was launching the 2012 “African-Americans for Obama” campaign for the upcoming election. Apparently I’m a little behind because this campaign was announced on February 2, 2012, by the President himself. And while I can certainly understand the strategy behind it, I’m having difficulty understanding how this is not racist in and of itself. This same question was asked by Lloyd Marcus, a conservative black American (his words) in Florida.
President Obama is the first African-American ever elected President. It was an historical event, to be sure, and he has much to be proud of. In fact, the entire African-American community in the United States has a lot to be proud of. Many never thought they’d see it in their lifetime (although I had no doubt I would) and particularly not so soon. But it happened in 2008. And that feat is something to be remembered and celebrated in this country where just 50-60 years ago black people had very few rights. Even though there are still a lot of racial differences (and by differences I mean hatred and discrimination) in this country, the election of a black man to the highest office in the land is certainly a huge step forward.
Which brings me back to my dilemma. What do you suppose would happen if Romney wins the Republican nomination and goes on television to announce the launching of “Caucasian-Americans for Romney”? Or Rick Santorum announces “Anglos for Santorum”? Or Gingrich launches one called simply “White Americans For Gingrich”? (Some people I’ve talked to would expect Gingrich to do just that but that’s a topic for another day.) Of course we all know what would happen. The Republicans would be called every kind of racist there is and the left would be outraged as would be, I’m pretty sure, the African-American community. The campaign of whichever candidate did that would suffer greatly. So why is it OK for our current President to begin a campaign for African-Americans? Does this not also follow the same lines of racism as those suggested above?
See, here’s where the dilemma arises. In America for the last 50 years or so it’s been politically incorrect for white people to say anything that even hints at racism while whites have been fair game for other cultures, races and ethnicities. And you know what? I can understand that. Whites dominated everything in the United States for almost 200 years and the other cultures, races and ethnicities had to work their way up the ladder, so to speak. Not that there was necessarily a ladder but people of color had to suffer, fight and struggle and laws had to be passed for people of color to gain equality in this country. And that struggle isn’t over yet in many ways.
President Obama was touted as the “Great Uniter” during his 08 campaign. His election was going to repair racism and change hearts and minds. Yet racism seems to be on the rise in this country because of things that have happened or things that have been perceived during the last three years. In my humble opinion, President Obama’s “African-Americans for Obama” campaign is another point of racial division. The nation came so far in 2008 in electing the first African-American to the Presidency. Can’t we leave race out of the 2012 campaign?
By now, and very unintentionally, I’ve probably irritated several people yet, as I indicated earlier, people who know me well know race is not something I have a problem with. I am truly curious whether people on both sides see Obama’s campaign as a racial slap in the face to Caucasian voters or perfectly fine and something that should not be questioned. I ask you again to look at those suggested campaigns for a Republican candidate and seriously think about whether President Obama’s campaign is really any different in substance. Racism is racism, isn’t it? Starting a public campaign asking people to vote for the African-American candidate because they’re African-American to me seems just as racist as a campaign against voting for the African-American because he’s just that. Where do we draw the line? When does separating people because of race/color change from racism to perfectly acceptable behavior in the political arena?
All in all it is my prediction that this 2012 Presidential election will be one of the ugliest, most divisive and hate filled elections ever held in this country. I truly hope I’m wrong but it seems to be gearing up that way. I truly hope race doesn’t play a big part in this election but I’m already thinking it will. And it will be played by both sides.