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Racism and White Voter Reluctance

April 24, 2008

Today in the Star Tribune, Bob von Sternberg discusses, what he calls, "Obama’s struggle to attract white voters". Quoting won of the experts he cites, Bethany Albertson, political science professor at the University of Washington, whose bona fides comes from her extensive study of "racial voting patterns":

"He’s obviously plateaued among white voters…It may be that the more realistic an Obama candidacy looks, the more voters are stopping and thinking about electability, implicitly hearing the message that a black candidate can’t win."

I suggest that everyone read that article. Why?  Because it will clear the cob-webs and instigate, I hope, a level of tenacity in those who believe Obama is the one for the job to work for it.  But, if you don’t read the article, let me point out, or clarify what needs to be seen from this campaign’s current path. This argument as to whether Sen. Obama is electable is code for is he too black to atleast 8% of the white electorate. That of course is only counting the completely honest white voter.  But, we must not forget that these questions were not as pervasive when Sen. Obama crucified Sen. Clinton in contest in Iowa, Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, Idaho and Utah; all of which are pre-dominantly white states. No, during those primaries and caucuses there was no discussion about "white voter reluctance", there was no attitude of though describing Sen. Obama as "plateaued among white voters".

What has been the change?  Has Sen. Obama changed his policy statements? No. Has he more aggressively distinguished himself as the "black candidate"? No.  What has happened is the politics of assassination, so rightly dubbed by the Clinton machine in the 90’s!  Look at the facts, what happened between than and now.  I can point to three things:

  1. Clinton goes negative with her 3 AM ad,
  2. Clinton allows the Rev. Wright comments to live on by continually resurrecting them in interviews and debates,
  3. Clinton mis-characterizes Obama’s statement, media dubbed "Bitter Gate",

The MO here is clear.  We have observed a crime, a psychological assault aimed at voters who might support the first black frontrunner for President, with the intent to scare the voters into marginalizing him.  In all honesty, I see no difference in how the Clinton campaign has conducted itself than how a Republican would do their business.

People we need to be cognizant of the fact that America is still America, and culture and race are still grounds to wedge and polarize the country.  It is apparent that there is a lack of foresight on the part of the Clinton campaign, or not.  To keep handing the enemy bullets for a fight to come, and have the temerity to say it’s healthy doesn’t just strain credulity, it leaves it behind all together.

What am I saying.  I do not believe the white middle class voter in Wyoming and North Dakota is economically that better off than the white middle class voter in Pennsylvania and Ohio.  I do believe there has been a concerted effort to form a cultural divide between Sen. Obama and white middle America by the Clinton campaign and to a great extent the cable news media.  I ad the news media specifically because they are unbalanced in their coverage of race issues between campaigns i.e. Sen. Obama’s pastor must be thrown under the bus, but Sen. Clinton and Sen. McCain’s religious relationships are sacrosanct.  Rev. Wright does not let America off the hook for any of its transgressions and he is a producer of hate speech – Pat Buchanan extols the virtues and benefits of slavery (white supremacy) and there is no apology from any of his media outlets, there is no throwing him under the bus.  What’s the difference – bingo! Rev. Wright is black and all the others are white.

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