HuffPo: The First President Who is Black

HuffPo

The First President Who is Black

Barak Obama was born into an American that was a deeply segregated place. The son of a black father and a white mother, his parents could not even have lived in the same house in 1961 in about 18 different states. Anyone predicting that the son of this union would one day be president would have risked being committed in a mental hospital. The idea of a black president was not just remote, it was impossible to conceive. Only in a science fiction story about an alternative universe could the parents of the baby Barak Obama have thought he would one day be president of the Harvard Law Review, a member of the U.S. Senate, and eventually the primary resident of the White House.
Welcome to the alternative universe of 2008.

An Obama presidency will not end racism. It may in fact lead to some increase in overt racist talk, as those who don’t like his policies will blame them on race. But in other ways, an Obama presidency will change the nature of race relations. Whites who said they would never vote for a black man, in the end did just that. The Republican Party, which played the race card so effectively with Willie Horton in 1988, was unable to do so this time. Fringe Republicans and supporters of McCain offered up offensive and nasty racist characterizations of Obama, including distributing handbills that looked like food stamps with Obama on them. The McCain campaign did not denounce these, but neither did it embrace such actions. In a last desperate effort the McCain campaign focused on Obama’s former preacher, Rev. Wright. But a radical minister is no Willie Horton, and no one seemed to be much affected by the effort.

Even as he became the first black president, Obama transcended race. His earliest support did not come from the black community, but from upper middle class Americans of all races, who were charmed by his intelligence and thoughtfulness and anxious to find a new political leader in the new century. Obama campaigned on economics, foreign policy, health care, and jobs. He rarely spoke of inequality or civil rights, not because he is not concerned about them, but because he understood that they were not the central issues of the election. Furthermore, he understood and inequality in health care and jobs opportunity cannot be overcome until we all have health care and the economy is no longer in free fall. Thus, Obama campaigned on issues that affect all Americans, without regard to race, geography, or class.

Indeed, in the end Obama is not America`s first black president — he is America`s first president who happens to be black. The difference is huge.

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Minnesota Independent: Crystal ball: The future looks (extreme) right

Minnesota Independent

Crystal ball: The future looks (extreme) right

There’s little doubt Sarah Palin is poising herself to become the new voice of the Republican party. As she campaigns for McCain, going rogue has not only become her norm, it’s become her platform. Her pro-”redneck” America, her “real” America, is really code for white, rural America. And like in the late 60s, when the white supremacist George Wallace  used thinly veiled hate speech so as to inoculate himself from claims of overt racism, Palin and her followers are gaining momentum by embracing fear and intolerance and using similarly coded language. In yesterday’s Op-Ed column in the New York Times, Paul Krugman predicted this new movement–led by the Palins and the Michele Bachmanns–will only get uglier and increasingly bigoted.

But the G.O.P.’s long transformation into the party of the unreasonable right, a haven for racists and reactionaries, seems likely to accelerate as a result of the impending defeat.

This will pose a dilemma for moderate conservatives. Many of them spent the Bush years in denial, closing their eyes to the administration’s dishonesty and contempt for the rule of law. Some of them have tried to maintain that denial through this year’s election season, even as the McCain-Palin campaign’s tactics have grown ever uglier. But one of these days they’re going to have to realize that the G.O.P. has become the party of intolerance.

Dork Nation: Don’t Look at Tennessee

Dork Nation

Don’t Look at Tennessee

Many are trying to make predictions on how the Presidential elections will turn out by making comparisons to Harold Ford Jr’s unsuccessful bid to win a Senate seat in 2006. I think it’s a bad comparison. Schaffner at pollster.com takes a look at some exit polling data on “late deciders” anyway and concludes there to have been no Bradley Effect in effect..

Of the things weighing down Jr’s campaign, race was probably less significant than having the last name Ford and being from Memphis. People knew “Ford,” but perhaps not as many knew Harold Ford Jr. I think folks were still trying to see whether or not there would be some kind of fallout from his family members legal troubles. There’s also the fact that late in the campaign, many progressives and Kurita fans were still pondering whether to pinch the snout and pull the lever for Ford or waste one on Lugo. Or abstain.

Nashville Post Politics: This One Not Like That One

Nashville Post Politics

This One Not Like That One

 

Pollster.com compares the current presidential race to the 2006 U.S. Senate race between Bob Corker and Harold Ford:

The differences between early deciders and late deciders are opposite of what we would expect if there was a race effect among late deciders. Whites who decided within the last week and a half of the campaign were actually 8% more likely to vote for Ford than those who made up their minds earlier. The same pattern held for less educated whites, rural whites, and whites living in eastern Tennessee. The only two groups where Ford did not do better among late deciders was for low income whites and older whites. But even in this case, Ford performed about as well as he did with early deciders, not significantly worse.

What does this mean for the presidential race? It depends on the extent to which you think the case of Tennessee in 2006 can be applied to the 2008 presidential contest. On one hand, the demography of Tennessee would seem to make it a good place to look for race effects among late deciders. On the other hand, electing someone to the Senate in a midterm election is a bit different from electing a president. But if you believe the comparison, then the experience from Tennessee in 2006 would suggest that there is little reason to expect late deciders to break against Obama because of his race.

 

New Mexico Independent: Don’t be resigned. Push back against racism

New Mexico Independent

Don’t be resigned. Push back against racism

Instead I’m thinking about race in America.

As in, Race.

I’m having a hard time with the gross racism that’s all of a sudden burst into the open during this presidential campaign. Call it the Palin-effect.

Sarah Palin said Barack Obama ” pals around with terrorists,” and further added that he’s “not like us” at a rally last week. That set off a round of Republican rallies that literally spewed racial hatred at Obama.

It’s been well-documented and picked over in the press, with Frank Rich summing the situation up in a New York Times Op-Ed:

At McCain-Palin rallies, the raucous and insistent cries of “Treason!” and “Terrorist!” and “Kill him!” and “Off with his head!” as well as the uninhibited slinging of racial epithets, are actually something new in a campaign that has seen almost every conceivable twist. …

…what has pumped up the Weimar-like rage at McCain-Palin rallies, is the violent escalation in rhetoric, especially (though not exclusively) by Palin. Obama “launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist.” He is “palling around with terrorists” (note the plural noun). Obama is “not a man who sees America the way you and I see America.” Wielding a wildly out-of-context Obama quote, Palin slurs him as an enemy of American troops.