Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Race is Now About "Race"

By Alan Caruba

It doesn’t matter how many times Sen. Barack Obama or any politician in America says that the national race for the presidency is not about race. It will be about race.

This nation has a long history of elections in which the issue of race was at the core of who would win or lose, dating back to the beginning of the Republican Party when Abraham Lincoln ran on a platform of not expanding slavery into new states. He did not run to abolish slavery although it was clearly abhorrent to him. As we know, a Civil War ensued during which slavery was the core moral issue, surrounded by many economic ones and, for the South, dominated by that of state’s rights.

In my lifetime, Gov. George Wallace, running for the presidency was severely injured in an attempted assassination. Earlier, Sen. Strom Thurmond had broken with the Democrat Party to run independently as a Dixiecrat. After President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, he correctly predicted the South would become a Republican domain.

So let’s not kid ourselves here. With the likelihood that Sen. Obama will be the Democrat nominee for the presidency, the election is going to split, as it has often throughout the primaries, along White, Black, and Hispanic lines. To date, Sen. Obama has garnered easily 90% of the Black vote as might be expected and nearly 50% of the Hispanic vote.

It is likely that the 40% of the White vote from within the Democrat Party is attributable to a large turnout of younger voters who did not experience the turmoil of the 1960s civil rights movement and who are entranced by Sen. Obama’s rhetorical skills.

There is no doubt that he is a powerful speaker, but as others have pointed out before me, he speaks in platitudes and vague thoughts about “change” and the “future.” His political record is that of a far-Left liberal and his personal associations with men like Rev. Jeremiah Wright and former Weatherman Bill Ayers cannot and will not be lightly dismissed in a national election.

In a national election, a significant portion of White Democrats is going to desert Sen. Obama, crossing over to a safer candidate, the center-right Sen. John McCain. It may be a close election as has been the pattern of the past, but as President Bush proved in his first election, a win is a win, no matter how narrow.

The withdrawal of troops from Iraq has already begun. Some will and must remain to protect Iraq against an unpredictable Iran. The economy will be a major issue, but it continues to demonstrate how resilient it is and any improvement will favor Sen. McCain.

In the end, the election will be won and lost on the issue of race. Saying it won’t doesn’t change that immutable American reality.

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