Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2014
President Obama was elected on a promise to unite the country, and in particular millions of Americans hoped he could help to transcend racial divisions. So one of the great tragedies of his presidency is that he and the Democratic Party have used race for political purposes in ways that exacerbate tensions–no more so than this election year.
Mr. Obama’s approval ratings are so bad that Democrats will need to drive a huge turnout to drag many incumbents over the victory line. The core of their political base are African-Americans, more than 90% of whom still register high approval of the President, and many of whom reside in battleground Senate states like Georgia, Louisiana and North Carolina. The party’s problem is that black turnout often drops sharply in midterms.
Hope and change are long gone, so Democrats are now playing the race card to scare black Americans to the ballot box. At the milder end of this spectrum is the Democratic National Committee’s appeal that the midterms should be a gesture in racial solidarity. “GET HIS BACK,” reads an ad the party committee is running in black newspapers. “Republicans have made it clear that they want our President–Barack Obama–to fail. If you don’t vote this November 4, they win.”
The harder, nasty edge is playing out in individual campaigns. The Democratic Party of Georgia is distributing a flyer that shows two young black children holding signs that say “Don’t Shoot.” The flyer reads: “If You Want To Prevent Another Ferguson In Their Future . . . VOTE.”
The handout refers to Ferguson, Mo. shooting victim Michael Brown, noting that in Ferguson 67% of the population is black, while “94% of its police force are white.” What Ferguson has to do with pressing the Senate candidacy of white Georgia Democrat Michelle Nunn isn’t clear, other than that Ms. Nunn can’t win without a resounding black vote.
In North Carolina, black residents have received flyers that show a lynching scene, with the superimposed words: “ Kay Hagan doesn’t win! Obama’s impeachment will begin! Vote in 2014.” The flyers are attributed to the “Concerned Citizens of Cumberland County,” and no wonder its authors want to remain anonymous.
In Maryland, where Democrat Anthony Brown is running to become the state’s first black Governor, the state Democratic Party has released a flyer showing pictures of a civil-rights march, a “colored waiting room” sign, and Donald Trump alongside the words: “Where’s the birth certificate?” The flyer ends: “In Maryland, it’s our turn to take an important step in the journey . . . Vote for Anthony Brown.”