Nashville Post Politics: Transferring Transcendence: How Powell’s Endorsement Helps McCain

Nashville Post Politics

Transferring Transcendence: How Powell’s Endorsement Helps McCain

The average white man or woman in America is no longer overtly or even covertly racist by any honest definition of that word. Sure, many whites feel more comfortable with those who look as they do but this is a quality hardly unique to the Caucasian population of America.

Most white people see themselves as very much open to dream of Martin Luther King, that we should all be judged not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character. Ability, qualifications, intelligence and ideology — all of these things most whites believe should trump racial considerations.

This fundamental embrace of King’s dream by white America, however, is exactly what could cause them to be alarmed by the endorsement of Barack Obama by Colin Powell. Marc Ambinder said this morning that “to the extent that there remain white voters who have inchoate worries about Obama’s race, it helps to have him associated with a man whose race they’ve already gotten over.”

Yes, Colin Powell has transcended race for much of his life. But transcendence is not something that one can necessarily transfer and, in trying, Colin Powell risks to damage his own reputation on that score.

Colin Powell is, as has been noted over and over, a lifelong Republican, one of Rockafeller stripe to be sure, but a Republican nonetheless. He is a friend of John McCain and admires him greatly. In August 2007, Powell, gave to John McCain the maximum contribution of $2,300.

Colin Powell, a lifelong Republican, wanted John McCain nominated by the GOP and the Republican Party, to the surprise of many conservatives, obliged. But when faced with the choice of the Republican he favored in primary and whom he admires and calls a friend and Barack Obama, Powell chose Barack Obama.

Rightly or wrongly, many white voters will no doubt conclude, despite Powell’s protestations, that at least one of the deciding factors in his decision was race. Many whites will assume that the prospect of the nation’s first black president had become too real for Powell to just stand back and say nothing.

If that is the conclusion that whites reach regarding the endorsement then what are they likely to conclude about the prospects of colorblindness on both sides of the racial divide in America?

Most whites in America have no problem voting for a man who happens to be black to lead our country. What many whites do have a problem with is electing an explicitly black leader who will bring with him to the White House a racial agenda.


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