It’s race, stupid
27th August 2012 · 0 Comments
By A. Peter Bailey
It was the 1992 Bill Clinton-George H.W. Bush presidential campaign which introduced the memorable political slogan: “It’s the economy, Stupid.” That slogan was a way of explaining why Bush was in danger of losing his job.
During the 2012 campaign between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a clarifying explanation as to why the President is in danger of losing his job is similar: “It’s Race, Stupid.”
Of course, one would never know this if dependent upon commentators on radio and television and op-ed columnists with major newspapers and magazines. They go on and on about everything that threatens President Obama’s re-election prospects except the fact that many, if not most, whites in this country, especially white males, have had more than enough of seeing a Black man in the White House.
For example, hosts of public affairs programs on television and radio and newspaper and magazine columnists have analyzed and discussed the speech made by Rep. Paul Ryan after he was chosen as Romney’s running mate without once dealing with the most revealing statement he made. After citing several actions that must be taken by those who detest Obama being in the White House, Ryan noted that if those things were done “We will get our country back on November 6.”
In all the vitriolic, partisan attacks made on presidents Clinton and George W. Bush by their opponents, I don’t recall a single attacker insisting that the president must be defeated for re-election so “we can get our country back.” That has been the mantra only about President Barack Obama. Rep. Ryan and those who share his sentiment believe the following: That the United States must be rescued and that President Obama—with his Muslim father from Kenya, African-American wife, Asian-American sister and other Kenyan blood relatives—is an outsider who can’t possibly be as American as they are.
They insist this is so despite the fact that the President’s policies helped save thousands of jobs in the automobile industry, have maintained the Bush tax cuts focusing on helping those who have money get more money, have provided health care support for working class and middle income mostly white families that are one catastrophic illness away from financial disaster, have provided a stimulus package which gave money even to the congressional districts of hypocritical anti-stimulus politicians such as Rep. Ryan, and have created an economic climate in which corporations have made record-setting profits.
His policies also resulted in the killing of U.S. public enemy number one, Osama bin Laden, have nearly crippled al-Qaida with constant drone attacks that also killed dozens of non-combatants, have continued the neo-cons’ war of choice in Afghanistan and have significantly expanded economic sanctions against Iran, among other things.
Most notably, President Obama has determinedly avoided any kind of gesture or policy that could honestly be described as reaching out to African Americans. And he has kept his cool, even when Glenn Beck mocked his daughter and when personally insulted by code names such as Food Stamp President to avoid being labeled an angry Black male.
Though one may oppose these policies or regard them as insufficient for what is needed, they don’t remotely reflect a person from whom the country must be rescued. So what is left but the conclusion that for Rep. Ryan and his cohorts, a Black man in the White House, any Black man, including brothers from another mother such as Herman Cain, Rep. Alan West of Florida, Rep. Tom Scott of South Carolina, Artur Davis and others of that ilk, is unbearable, a severe shock to the white psyche. In other words, “It’s Race, Stupid.”
Journalist/Lecturer A. Peter Bailey, a former associate editor of Ebony, is currently editor of Vital Issues: The Journal of African American Speeches. He can be reached at (202) 716-4560.
This article originally published in the August 27, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.