Does it matter than Obama is black?

Being a white man, I will never be able to know what kind of real of perceived prejudices a black man faces.  But there is historical evidence that blacks have been systematically disenfranchised in America.  However, disenfranchisement has followed economics lines more than ethnic ones.  The problem is that blacks started at the bottom end of the economic strata, making them as a class more susceptible to economic hindrances.

That being said, it is also true that blacks are represented in the middle and upper economic classes of this country.  Many of them got there the old-fashioned way, like every other immigrant to this country.  They worked hard and saved and made good business choices and built honest businesses from the ground up.  These people are out there, and they should be applauded for honest effort.  Many more learned the new economic lesson of America, that, often, who you know is more important than what you know.  They played the political games and won higher rungs on the economic ladder.  As such, they command a level of respect and admiration.

Regardless of how a black man succeeds, he becomes a symbol of “overcoming.”  This is a phenomenon that doesn’t have a corollary among “white” people.  Back when Irish, Italians, Poles, Jews and Germans all thought of themselves as distinct ethnic groups, these ethnicities were also proud to have “one of their own” achieve a place of wealth or status.  But, as they all homogenized into the melting pot of white America, it wasn’t such a big issue.

But blacks have, by and large, not been able to homogenize very easily.  Part of that is surely because the superficial differences are greater between a blacks (who, in fairness, are from many different African ethnic groups with marked differences as well) and Italians than between Italians and Spaniards.  But a larger part of that stems from a resistance from both sides to see such a homogenization.

Enter Barack Obama as President of the United States.  For me, as an ideological conservative, my aversion to the man is entirely based on his lack of conservatism.  The fact that he is black is not an issue.  If Hillary had won the primary, I certainly would not have voted for her either.  And it would not have been because she was a woman.  I didn’t vote for Bill either.  It’s the ideology that is the issue.

One has to ask the question: if people are against Obama because he is black, then how did he get elected in the first place?  Seems to me that no one who championed him before is suddenly going to become a racist and vote against him.  Usually, the older and wiser and more educated people become, the less inclined they are to be racist.  So, what would prompt people who voted for Obama in 2008 to suddenly wake up and realize that they made a mistake because they voted for a black man?

The second question that has to be asked is: is the new-found disappointment of Obama and indictment of just the man himself or does it also reflect disappointment with the congress over which he presided–an indictment of the Democratic Party as a whole?  Lost in the debate for the presidency are all the state races that will decide the make-up of congress.  It remains to be seen whether it is just Obama on trial or the whole government.

I, personally, couldn’t care less if Obama is black or Italian.  It’s just on the outside.  What’s on the inside is what matters.  On the other hand, I am religiously at odds with Mormonism.  To be opposed to Mitt Romney because he is Mormon would make more sense to be than to be opposed to Obama because he is black.  Mormonism is a ideology that will shape every aspect of Romney’s decision-making process.  However, the process doesn’t really affect me, only the decisions that are made.  Romney’s track record shows that he has made good business decisions.  So, why should I care about his reasons for doing what he does?  The only thing that matters is the outcome.

I understand that years of prejudice against black people have caused many to believe that race is the driving factor for removing Obama.  That a black man rose to the pinnacle of power signals hope that others in the oppressed group have a chance to grab at the brass ring.  But Obama is not the Great Black Hope.  He certainly wanted to portray himself that way, but it didn’t come to pass.  There are many other black men and women  that have represented much better.  And there will be many more.  The attacks on Obama are not about his person, but his record.  That some are racially motivated will always be true.  But there is a much bigger picture to see here.

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October 20, 2012 · 1:51 pm

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