This is the question that we so carefully avoid asking. Media pundits discuss the topic in coded language and many conservatives frame the subject in such a way as to stir fear in the American electorate. On any given day you will here terms like “radical”, “is he one of us”, “hard working Americans…” and so on. On the left we have Civil Rights leaders quietly providing tempered support to Obama and others suggesting that they would vote for McCain. Why? What would it mean if America elected Obama as president? Why are so many for fearful and others so hopeful? Lets start with the fears.
Why the Right is a afraid of a black President?
I would be wrong to say that most conservative are racist and this is the basis for their fears. However, I do believe that most racist are conservative so that is a part of it, but I don’t want to paint the entire conservative wing of America with a racist brush but all anecdotal evidence suggest that it is Obama’s race and not his policies that frighten them. The talking heads at Fox News and many rightwing talk show host focus primarily on Obama’s race. It is why they mention his middle name so often. Black American men have always been the pinnacle of the fears of white America. On an episode of the O’Reilly Factor where Bill was discussing immigration, he stated:
“break down the white, Christian, male power structure, which you're a part, and so am I, and they want to bring in millions of foreign nationals to basically break down the structure that we have."
This is the driving fear of a President Obama. The fear of losing absolute power.
Why the Left is afraid of a black President
The Civil Rights movement succeeded because it always had an Ace in the Hole: Human Rights. As progress was made on the Civil Rights front, many of the leaders saw their power and influence wane. My generation and the generation that followed began to question the strategy of Civil Rights organizations that didn’t seem to take into account the progress they made possible. The relevance of its leaders came into doubt. The fear now is that a President Obama would further erode their relevance; not to white America, but to African Americans and other minorities. There is also the legitimate fear that in response to Obama winning, white America will seek to reverse many of the gains made by Civil Rights legislation, using Obama as a means to suggest that all is well in the Republic.
Why the Right would welcome President Obama
The Left’s fear is the Right’s joy. Obama, they believe, would mean that there is no longer a need for Affirmative Action programs. Any claims of racism by minorities would have no legitimacy. Any social program to assist poor African Americans would no longer be necessary because by electing a black man as president, America has remedied its past inequities and the playing field is now level. This is the very claim that is being made with the Arizona ballot initiative end Affirmative Action.
Why the Left would welcome President Obama
Beyond the obvious of ending eight years of Republican rule in the White House, there is a feeling that many of the structural inequities in America will finally have an advocate in Washington. It will also symbolize the crowning jewel of the Civil Rights fight. I grew up hearing that I could do anything I wanted to do, but the President of the United States was the one caveat that stood as a reminder to the reality of racism in this country. When Obama accepts the Democrat nomination, part of the barrier will come down.
I am not sure if Obama will win but this is a perfect test. McCain is the perfect placebo is this case study on America because he does not have an enthusiastic base. This election is truly a reflection on Obama and how comfortable America is with electing a black man. Any other Democrat would win this election going away. So the only think separating Obama from the White House is his skin color and the effectiveness of the right to paint him as the scary black man. Some may believe that a loss would be devastating. Because of McCain’s policies, I believe that to be true.
Obama is a pioneer as is Hillary Clinton. Often times, pioneers do not reap the reward of their effort. Martin Luther King never saw the fruits of his labor. They will be political forces for some time to come. What would a President Obama mean for America? If nothing else, it would that Bill O’Reilly was right in one part: the white male Christian, power structure is breaking down. But instead of immigration – it is hill fellow Americans wielding the hammer.
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