There is probably some truth to the fact that many white Americans feel a little bit better about themselves when they vote Obama. At least that’s what the two bit psycho-babblers out there have told us — white people can feel less guilty about America’s racist history by supporting an African American presidential candidate. “Me racist? But I voted for Obama.”
That’s one of the rationales that some African Americans had early on for being suspicious of Obama’s popularity amongst whites — maybe white men, especially, thought they were getting an “out of jail free” pass for jumping on the Obama bandwagon. Heck, even Stuff White People Like tells us that white people like supporting Obama and feeling like they understand minorites.
As mentioned, I don’t deny that there is some truth to this. But I do believe that Obama’s appeal goes far beyond his race — if it were race alone, then you’d have a dozen African American candidates running for office. Rather, Obama’s appeal has to do more with the fact that he treats voters like they’re adults and doesn’t condescend to them, a perfect example of this being his recent speech on race in America.
Ironically while some white Obama supporters may feel less racist for backing him, so now do his detractors. Since the outcries against Obama’s former pastor and his aforementioned speech, conservative white America has also found the perfect opportunity to atone for their racial sins and feel better about themselves. They have also found the perfect way to criticize Obama, taking their own pseudo-post racial highroad, without running the risk of being called racists. “We’re not racists, it’s Obama’s church that is racist”.
Just look at the all of the neocons and Republican pundits out there who have called Obama’s speech insufficient or his association with Wright an outrage — George Will, Bill Kristol, Charles Karuthammer, and Rush Limbaugh. Robert Novak criticized Obama’s speech but made a very good point that it played into Billary’s game plan of turning Obama into a Black radical. Where were these freedom-mongers when Hagee endorsed McCain? Notice that even Bill Clinton used the whole affair to indirectly question Obama’s patrioticism (something that he must recall when Republicans brought up his draft dodging in the 1992 elections). The fact of the matter is that the Clintons and the Republicans need the same thing — they need Obama to to be a Black Panther and not President David Palmer from 24.
In any event, by preaching that Jeremiah Wright is an exremist, a racist, and why can’t Obama be more like Bill Cosby (sure, and Will Smith), the Republicans have finally found a comfortable place where they can fight Obama, not feel guilty for America’s past, and not have to change the status quo either. The total lack of proportionality between the attacks against Obama and anything remotely extreme in his political and personal history are mezmorizing. That this conversation about race where Obama bears the burden of proving himself white enough is perpetuated into its second week is unexcusable.
What reaching the comically absurd, though, is that at the end of the day, Obama has opened the door to real redemption. Essentially, Obama has become the savior for white people everywhere — on the right and the left.
In the meantime, all of this makes me sound like some die hard lefty — something I never considered myself to be.