Monday, January 11, 2010
Race and Politics in America
By Alan Caruba
Politics in America has always been about race. It began with the writing of the Constitution and the compromises made by the Founding Fathers in order to keep the southern states in the fold.
It can be found in the very first Article that makes reference to the “respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of ten years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other persons.”
Those “other persons” were black slaves.
On June 21, 1788, the Constitution became effective when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify it. In 1861, seventy-three years later, the Civil War began and lasted until 1865. Despite amendments passed after the war to enfranchise the freed slaves, it was not until 1964 that a comprehensive Civil Rights Bill was passed that ensured the enforcement of measures to bring about a measure of actual equality.
Then President Lyndon Johnson reportedly said to his then aide, Bill Moyers, that in signing the bill, the Democrats had forfeited the South and he was right. In the years that followed, the southern States became red states.
When Republican Majority leader, Trent Lott, revealed his inner racist while celebrating Sen. Strom Thurman’s 100th birthday, the calls for his resignation were loudest among Democrats and now, another Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, is in trouble for calling the President a “Negro” and complimenting him on the fact that he does not have a dialect widely associated with the black community. Sadly for Reid, leading race-baiters, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, both have run for the presidency in the past and have dialects that are easily imitated.
Racism in America is not a one-way street, nor is it restricted to the black-white divide. In the “melting pot” of America, we all mock each other to the endless amusement or annoyance of the groups involved.
One of the classic Saturday Night Live segments pitted Chevy Chase against Richard Pryor in an exchange of racially charged slurs. It probably did more for race relations than all the laws on the books because it revealed that racism is part of the fabric of our society.
The revelation about Sen. Reid may get him dislodged from his position as Senate Majority Leader even though the White House immediately made it known that President Obama had forgiven him and accepted his apology. It is no small irony that Hispanic Americans now outnumber black Americans, ensuring its minority status for the future.
The election of Barack Hussein Obama was initially seen as indication that the bad old days of racism were behind us. While more than 90% of the black community understandably voted for him, he needed a significant margin of white/Hispanic votes to get elected.
Voters were so obsessed with former President Bush’s two terms that they ignored the fact that he selected Colin Powell to be the first black Secretary of State and that Powell was succeeded in that office by the first black woman, Condoleeza Rice. Bush’s father had elevated Powell to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
By comparison, President Obama’s selection of Eric Holder as the first black Attorney General has generated a huge backlash for his decision to extend the full rights of the Constitution to admitted enemy combatants.
I am not given to predictions, but I will suggest that Barack Obama will be the last black President for a very long time.
Obama has performed so poorly in his first year in office that he has made it impossible for future generations of Americans to disassociate his race from the disappointment he has engendered.
If it turns out that Obama was never eligible to run for and hold the office, he will have compounded his failures and harmed the interests of black Americans in public life for a very long time to come.