Posted on May 13, 2011

Despite Obama Prowess, Race Will Still Factor in Re-election Bid

Hazel Trice Edney, Seattle Medium, May 11, 2011


{snip} In fact, race and political experts say the fact that President Obama is Black will still be a major factor in his re-election campaign and will likely even increase.

“{snip} But, the sad truth is that there is a huge proportion of the population that’s not rational at all and in fact is really driven by antipathy toward Black people,” says Mark Potok, spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a leading monitor of race hate in America. “I think it’s clear that while Obama released the long-form certificate, it may have changed a few minds. But it really didn’t change the underlying dynamic because the underlying dynamic is that these people don’t like Obama because he is Black.”


But, major accomplishments will not likely be enough to deter those who look at the President primarily through the lens of his race, agrees David Bositis, spokesman for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank of racial politics.

“One would think that this would result in a serious increase in his poll numbers. One would hope that it would, but we’ll have to wait and see because if we don’t know that he’s an American, if we think that he graduated from Harvard as an affirmative action student even though he was president of the [Harvard] Law Review, you just can never tell,” says Bositis.


“What seems to be the major factor in just about everything that relates to the president is race. And no question it’s getting worse,” Bositis says

Bositis largely blames mainstream media for political and even election coverage that dignifies ignorant assertions and even racism. Too often journalists–in order to attract viewers–fail to ask whether someone is making a blind statement simply because of the President’s race, Bositis said.


Bositis predicts that African-Americans will be riled by this at election time and will come out to vote. But, whether Blacks will vote at the same levels as the 2008 election remains to be seen.

“I really don’t have any doubt that the Black vote will go really strongly for Obama. The only question is will they turn out to the same degree that they turned out in 2008,” Bositis says. “The fact of the matter is that on the other side, there are so many God-awful people who are out and out racist and Black people feel that. Anyone with any sensitivity whatsoever can just feel the racism and absolutely know.”

Despite the racism, Black political observers say though Blacks will likely vote based on their own interests.

“The African-American unemployment rate is still 15 percent. We are still with record home foreclosures, the school funding in inner cities hasn’t been addressed, and so a lot of the issues that were facing us when he was elected are still facing us,” says political scientist Wilmer Leon. “And, he has said, and rightly so, ‘I’m not a Black president,’ but we still expected that many of our maladies or issues would be addressed and it’s not happening.”

Bositis agrees that despite the overt racism, much can happen over the next 18 months before the election. {snip}