Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Trumping the Race Card

When Americans voted for Barack Obama in 2008, were we racists?  Were we voting for a man because of the color of his skin, rather than the content of his character?

In my case, I voted for Obama because it was time for Democrats to put their money where their mouth was on the War on Terror.  And anyway, I think that the essence of democracy is Buggins Turn.  You alternate the parties in power so they don't get paranoid.

So if Americans vote for Romney in 2012 does that make us racists?  If we don't like the way the US Justice Department decided not to prosecute New Black Panthers for standing in the polling station door does that make us racists?  If we don't like President Obama's liberal bureaucrats tearing up the consensus on welfare, does that make us racists?  If we don't agree with ObamaCare does that make us racists?

Jonah Goldberg is looking at the race card today and wondering why we haven't got to post-racial politics.  He reckons that if Michael Eric Dyson, professor of sociology, can judge Mitt Romney's lame birth-certificate joke as "resorting to 'some of the basest, most despicable bigotry we can imagine'", then things can't really be that bad on the race front.  I mean, can a lame joke be that much of a problem?

A lot of Americans thought that in voting for Obama they would put America into a post-racial era.  After all, if you vote for a black guy for president, then surely nobody can call you a racist any more.

Yeah.  Good luck with that, old chum.  But Goldberg thinks that the race baiters may be shooting themselves in the foot.
But I think both the cynical and the sincere race-obsessives fail to fully appreciate the damage they’re doing to their own cause. In 2008, the hope for many was that Obama would transcend race, moving the nation beyond the exhausting topic. Today, instead of being post-racial, our politics are saturated with ridiculous charges of racism. “No Drama Obama” is instead a source of constant drama, often hyped in the most ludicrous ways.
 What Obama has done, in the analysis of Shelby Steele, is change from a race "bargainer" to a race "challenger."  Race bargainers give whites the benefit of the doubt on race, on the understanding, nod nod, wink wink, that they vote those benefits.  Race challengers accuse whites of racism up front until they vote the benefits.

But what if typical white Americans have decided that enough is enough, forget the bargaining, forget the challenging, they have voted in a black president: been there done that?  Suppose average middle-class Americans reckon they now have to take care of their own needs in this sluggish Obama economy?

Well, who knows?  That's why we have elections.

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