If you look behind the numbers of most polls, President Obama is losing the white male, and to a lesser extent, the white female voter. Why you may ask yourself are these folks voting against their own self-interest? There is a fear of change. Fear of loss of power. And race is at the core. If I had any doubts about this, they were ended with the reactions of John McCain and John Sununu about Colin Powell’s endorsement of President Obama yesterday.
John Sununu who is not known for his rationality said in an interview with Piers Morgan
“When you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or whether he’s got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama,” Mr. Sununu said.
Mr. Morgan asked flatly, “What reason would that be?”
Mr. Sununu responded, “Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him.”
Do you think Sununu has endorsed Mitt Romney because Romney is white? I don’t think so.
Sununu later released this statement
Colin Powell is a friend and I respect the endorsement decision he made, I do not doubt that it was based on anything but his support of the President’s policies. Piers Morgan’s question was whether Colin Powell should leave the party, and I don’t think he should.
John McCain was not as overt saying
Mr. Powell had “harmed” his legacy by endorsing Mr. Obama a second time. Appearing on Brian Kilmeade’s radio program, Mr. McCain said “General Powell, you disappoint us and you have harmed your legacy even further by defending what is clearly the most feckless foreign policy in my lifetime.”
Remarks like these from leaders of the Republican party help to fuel the ugly streak we see in the election. The billboards in minority communities telling people voter fraud is a crime, the t-shirts with the logo “put the white back in the White House”, and the persistent view that the President is not a citizen and certainly not Christian. David Sirota wrote a piece titled “5 Signs Racism Still Rules Politics” which is quite instructive.
1. Joe Biden Is almost never called a socialist or a Marxist. Despite a Senate voting record and presidential policymaking record that align him with moderate Republicans from a mere decade ago, Obama is regularly derided as a socialist, a communist or a Marxist. By contrast, Obama’s own white running mate, Joe Biden, has as liberal — or at times even more liberal — a voting record as Obama, but (save for the occasional Newt Gingrich outburst) is almost never referred to in such inflammatory terms.
2. Romneycare is Obamacare, yet the latter is criticized. It’s a well-known, undisputed fact that Romneycare was a conservative health insurance model constructed by the right-wing Heritage Foundation , and that it was Massachusetts’ state-level model for the federal healthcare bill ultimately championed by President Obama. Nonetheless, under the first African-American president, the very same healthcare model the GOP championed is now being held up by the GOP as a redistributionist boondoggle
3. A white president would never be criticized for these statements about Trayvon Martin. No white president has ever been blamed for the varied and disparate transgressions committed by white folk.
What the President said was
“When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids, and I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this, and that everybody pulls together.”
4. America would neither ignore nor laugh off a young black male relative of Obama publicly fantasizing about violence against a presidential candidate. As I reported last week, Romney’s son, Tagg Romney, cheerily riffed on his fantasies about committing an act of violence against a sitting president of the United States.
5. If one of Obama’s teenage daughters was unmarried and pregnant, it wouldn’t be considered a “private” matter.When Sarah Palin was put on the Republican ticket in 2008, Bristol Palin’s pregnancy did not initiate a national discussion about the issue of teen pregnancy, unprotected sex or promiscuous fornication outside of wedlock.
Pictures show the difference between the crowds at rallies. You rarely see any brown or black faces at Romney rallies. His crowds tend to be older and whiter.
Let me end with some observations from Eugene Robinson.
This election is only tangentially a fight over policy. It is also a fight about meaning and identity — and that’s one reason voters are so polarized. It’s about who we are and who we aspire to be.President Obama enters the final days of the campaign with a substantial lead among women — about 11 points, according to the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll — and enormous leads among Latinos and African Americans, the nation’s two largest minority groups. Mitt Romney leads among white voters, with an incredible 2-to-1 advantage among white men. It is too simplistic to conclude that demography equals destiny. Both men are being sincere when they vow to serve the interests of all Americans. But it would be disingenuous to pretend not to notice the obvious cleavage between those who have long held power in this society and those who are beginning to attain it.When Republicans vow to “take back our country,” they never say from whom. But we can guess.
Issues may explain our sharp political divisions, but they can’t be the cause of our demographic polarization. White men need medical care, too. African Americans and Latinos understand the need to get our fiscal house in order. The recession and the slow recovery have taken a toll across the board.
Some of Obama’s opponents have tried to delegitimize his presidency because he doesn’t embody the America they once knew. He embodies the America of now.
I can’t help but feel that if President Obama wins a second term we will have turned a corner – whether the Republicans can accept it or not. If the country is not to continue on this divided path the Republicans deal the elephant of race.
Charles Blow has an interesting chart in Saturday’s New York Times.
Both photographs by AP.