The presidential election of 2008 confronted Americans with a perplexing choice. Most elections involve a fairly simple choice. Which candidate is more competent, which one do I like better? 2008 was different. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama personified the two most problematic and unresolved socio-political issues of the past 100 years. It was a contest between the quest for women’s full equality in society and the chance to elect a black man to symbolize the full acceptance of black people into the system. Crack the glass ceiling or blur the lines of segregation?
We sometimes assign deeper significance to presidential elections than is actually there. Grover Cleveland in 1884 symbolized the end of Civil War politics since he was a Democrat. JFK’s election in 1960 was praised because we elected our first Roman Catholic. Jimmy Carter in 1976 was the first real southerner since Zach Taylor in 1848. In 2008 a majority of white women decided to leave the glass ceiling in place a while longer and deserted their feminism in favor of racial harmony.
There were other issues in 2008 -- McCain’s age, Obama’s lack of experience, Palin being Palin (more of a feminist than Hillary?), and, of course the economy in a shambles. These were all transitory. The majority of voters decided to cast their ballots for racial harmony at long last. Idealism triumphed over all.
Too bad it didn’t last. Even though Obama declared that he was the "Democrat candidate for president, not the black candidate," his followers popped the race card out of the deck in the South Carolina primary and are still using it as their main weapon. Obama himself never plays the card. In such matters, as in almost all matters, he remains aloof. However, he does nothing to restrain his followers from using it. Instead, the Democratic strategy has become one perpetually divisive force. What started out as something called "identity politics" has become a weapon that defines almost every issue as being a racial issue.
When the Supreme Court decided that most states no longer needed special supervision of their elections they were skewered for being racists. When a black man entered the Senate as a Republican, black Democrats called him an "Uncle Tom." More importantly, Harry Reid and other Democrat spokesmen refuse to accept any questioning of Obama policies as legitimate. No matter what the question, all criticisms of Obama proposals are described as being racially motivated. This mantra is repeated over and over by the Democratic leaning press and other media figures. Wondering aloud if amnesty for illegal immigrants is a good thing is racially suspect. Questioning the exploding need for food stamp relief is called racist, even though the majority of the recipients are white.
This automatic response to all who question Obama for anything by calling the critic a racist has resulted in a new racial divide. We now have evolved a white on white racism.
Too many of the people who elected Obama and then reelected him are faced with a dilemma. He has proven to be a poor president by almost all standards. The economy still sputters. Our foreign policy is a shambles (will there be a re-set button in Iraq?) The Congress is dysfunctional mostly because of Democrat obstructionism.
The hoped-for new order has failed to appear at home or abroad. It couldn’t be that we voted for a loser twice. It couldn’t be that our president’s leadership is a mystery to our allies as well as to his own party. The problem must be those evil white racists, or the Uncle Toms, who see him for what he is and isn’t.
Get a grip, Obamites. Go to the video tape and replay it until you figure out where the moves went wrong. Face the fact that those who see a better future for America when we eventually get a different president are not the racists in the conversation.
Weiland Ross is a Banner columnist.