Obama's Racial Appeal; White Men Need Not Apply

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 29, 2010 | Go to article overview

Obama's Racial Appeal; White Men Need Not Apply


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

President Obama is transforming from being the post-racial to the most racial president. In a videotaped appeal made on behalf of the Democratic National Committee, Mr. Obama says he wants to reconnect with young people, African-Americans, Latinos and women who powered our victory in 2008 [to] stand together once again. This attempt to reconnect reveals a substantial disconnect.

Mr. Obama is both president and Democratic Party leader, so political appeals of this type are a fact of life. In this case, Mr. Obama showed a degree of tone-deafness. The historic first black president of the United States should be more cautious than to explicitly call for race-based support. Such a frank appeal seeking to exploit ethnic and gender divisions reinforces the suspicion that Mr. Obama and his party do not represent the whole country. The subtext of the video is white men need not apply.

Mr. Obama seeks to replay the romantic vision of 2008, a supposedly mobilizing election in which he was swept into office by the previously marginalized, the tuned out and the hopeless. Mr. Obama, through the force of his personality, inspired them to go to the polls and make history.

It's a nice story, but only partly true. Some groups, especially young blacks, did turn out in significantly larger numbers than in the past. But overall, turnout did not set records. The surge in voting by some previously disaffected groups was offset by large sectors of traditional voters who stayed home. These Americans did not want to vote for John McCain but could not bring themselves to support Barack Obama. These two factors canceled each other out, and overall turnout in 2008 was 64 percent, the same as 2004.

The voters who stayed home in 2008 - white, male, educated, middle-income - are now back with a vengeance. Mr. Obama and his fellow Democrats won't be able to coast to victory in 2010 and will be lucky to stave off a major defeat. …

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