Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Correcting An Egregious Misnomer

Convinced that Senator John McCain will lose to Senator Barack Obama in this year's presidential election, Republicans have already begun casting their net on the reasons for the defeat. The real reasons--a disastrous run by arguably the most incompetent President in the modern era, a war in Iraq that continues to siphon money from the domestic economy, and a deepening recession--so far have fallen outside of this broad net. Instead, Republicans are trotting out the same tired excuses for their failures--the media hate Republicans, illegal voters pushed Democrats over the top, and too many intelligent people voted.

Now, Republicans are adding another herring to the fish stew. In addition to the prevailing excuses, Republicans are floating the notion that Senator Obama is winning because he is black. Yes, because he is black.

Could anything be more absurd? Unlikely.

In a country in which black people were disenfranchised until only recently, in which the Ku Klux Klan still sports a following, in which the incarceration rate for blacks is nearly twice that of similarly charged white defendants, Republicans are lamenting that Senator Obama, should he win, will have won largely through the help of votes of sympathy? This might be the single most disingenuous political argument ever trotted out to the American public. And that's saying a mouthful.

The argument that Senator Obama has gained an advantage due to his race is not a new one, of course, having first reared its image during the Democratic primaries. That's when current Obama supporter, then Senator Clinton strategist, Paul Begala, suggested that Senator Clinton was the victim of voter desire to support a black man over a white woman.

Despite the irony of Begala's statements in the face of his own candidate receiving massive support from women who, as black voters undoubtedly hoped to do with Obama, wanted to break a political barrier for a previously maligned group, at least Begala's comments could be taken with a grain of consideration. After all, it was conceivable that some Democrats, perhaps even many, supported Senator Obama over Senator Hillary Clinton due to their desire to support the first black male candidate for President. Perhaps. And perhaps many of those in that camp were even white voters. Again, perhaps.

To contend, however, that a significant percentage of voters in the Presidential election are supporting Senator Obama over Senator McCain because of their desire to put a black man in the White House is off the range. And one need not even know much about final numbers to know that this is the case.

Black voters typically vote 90% Democrat. That trend appears to be holding in early returns today, with Senator Obama probably picking up some votes from Blacks who might not otherwise have voted. Those are not the voters to whom Republicans refer, however, probably because, even if these voters support a Black candidate in greater numbers than they would a white candidate, making the argument that Black voters turned out to support a Black candidate offers little traction in the realm of political subterfuge.

Instead, what Republicans who are promoting this argument seem to be suggesting is that white voters--moderate white voters who otherwise would have voted Republican--are voting for Senator Obama because he is Black. That defies logic; it defies the history of moderate voters; and it defies common sense.

If Senator Obama wins this election, as it appears that he will, Republicans would be best served looking inward toward the rightward lurch of the Party--a lurch that prompted the placement of Governor Sarah Palin on the ticket and fomented a campaign geared toward policies that seem very similar to those that have entrenched the United States in the position as that of an outsider in an international system that otherwise looks upon the United States for leadership.

If Senator Obama wins today, it is because Americans viewed him as the best option for delivering the nation from an era in which Republicans not only failed to deliver what they promised to deliver, but failed to acknowledge the true failures so that they can be rectified going forward. That, despite a campaign when it was not only permissible, but strongly advisable, to run from the Republican platform of the past eight years. If you cannot cut the cord on disastrous policies under such circumstances, it is difficult to understand when one can. And if Republicans insist on making an Obama victory a history of "lovin' the Black man" it will be a history that the Grand Ole Party will be destined to relive.

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