Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Why Do Black Voters Prefer President Obama Over Mitt Romney 94-0?

Mitt Romney trails President Barack Obama 94-0 with black voters according to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

I think there are a number of reasons why. I'm sharing some over the next few posts...

The TEA Party Take Over of the Republican Party

While there have been cries to the contrary, the country’s introduction to the TEA Party included a reintroduction to the racist underbelly still existent in this country. This includes people showing up to political rallies with guns, or images of Obama as a witch doctor, the Joker or Hitler. The TEA Party’s language that suggests – and in some cases outright proclaimed – Obama is a socialist,  un-American, hates America, and or is evil and treasonous. They said all of this about the FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT in the history of our country.

There are many black people who, like whites and Hispanics, may not totally buy (or even understand) all of Obama’s policies, yet these attacks were seen as by a number of African-Americans as attacks on black people, not just on a politician they liked. There is sense in which the election of the first black president was more consequential to blacks than to the country at large. The Presidency was the last elective office that appeared 'reserved' for white males. It was a glass ceiling that many thought a woman would break long before a black man would do so. The insults hurled at Barack Obama are felt viscerally by a large swath of black America because the slurs resonate personally.

The nit-picking on virtually every aspect of his person or his policies looms larger than anyone can imagine in the black community, because blacks can relate to the nit-picking:
  • Barack Obama isn't confident; he’s ‘arrogant’. 
  • His education is suspect (how’d he get to Harvard anyway? Let's see those transcripts. As if being elected President of the Harvard Law Review was disconnected from his academic performance). 
  • Black people, whether in executive, supervisory, or managerial positions, know what it's like to have their qualifications questioned; to have it whispered, if not said out loud, that the color of one's skin is the reason why they were promoted, rather than because of hard work, greater vision or superior experience. 
No president in the history of this country has ever had to produce his birth certificate, but the first black President has to produce his to quell nearly three years of nonsense around this issue. And this, in a country which a few years ago, entertained the conversation about changing the Constitution to allow Arnold Schwarzenegger to run for president!

These are just a few of the insults which many a black Americans have taken personally. In most cases, they were passed off as simply an 'angry' middle class. The problem is, black America has been 'angry' for a long time. But the 'anger' of blacks in America is dismissed as 'whining'. The 'anger' of the TEA Party, was given wide play, taken seriously and co-opted by the Republican Party (before the TEA Party took over the Republican Party). Very few establishment Republicans challenged the rhetoric and the dark, 'other' descriptions and suspicions which targeted the President. Most found ways to excuse interrupting the Obama's State of the Union speech, by calling him a liar. Or elected officials openly voicing (and thereby giving an air of legitimacy) to the birther questions, or worse. Even now during the campaign, both the Republican Party nominee and GOP Party officials descriptions of his economic policy as 'foreign' and European, are easily promulgated. And Mitt Romney recently repeated the 'birther' meme, as a 'joke'. As a result because of the TEA Party takeover of the Republican Party, the insults are associated with the Republican Party.

Are all Republicans racist? No, of course not. Are all TEA Party members? I don't believe so. But the noisemakers and extremists are the ones who find the camera and have become the faces and the voices of the party. And I think that factors in significantly into the 94% - 0% lead for Barack Obama among black voters.

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