Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Democrats are always black presidents

By Frank Moraes 

For a long time, I've puzzled over something. Why has the conservative treatment of Obama been almost exactly the same as the treatment of Bill Clinton. Yes, there have been little differences. For example, no one ever claimed that Clinton wasn't qualified to be president because he wasn't born in America. And that is a bit of overt racism that should have embarrassed the conservative movement far more than it did. I think the reason that it didn't cause more of a stir was that the media are loath to admit anything quite so disturbing as the fact that one of the major political parties in the United States owes most of its appeal to racism. And the white majority mostly wants to compartmentalize racism as nothing more than people who use the n-word. But other than this bit of clearly racist behavior, Obama and Clinton were treated the same.

What I mean by this is that both men were treated as though they were treated as though they were invalid. And conservatives seem to believe that either men are capable of anything. There are stories about how Obama is secretly gay married and of course who can forget that Bill Clinton murdered Vince Foster. What's more, during both presidencies, the conservatives have kept going with supposed scandals that not only don't come to anything, but don't even seem to be about anything. What was Whitewater about? What is Benghazi! about? It isn't just that I don't know. The people pushing these scandals don't seem to know either.

But leave it to Ta-Nehisi Coates to straighten out my thinking on this issue, "Bill Clinton Was Racialized, Too." He pointed out that the issue isn't so much who is leading the Democratic Party. The issue is that to the racists, the Democratic Party itself is the black party. It's the part that looks after the interests of "those people." He explained it:

Even Bill Clinton did not exist in a bubble of neutralized racism. He was a product of American politics in the post-civil-rights era, and thus had to cope with all the requisite forces. Racism does not merely concern itself with individual enmity, but with group interests. The men who killed [white civil rights activist] Andrew Goodman did not merely hate him individually, they hated what he represented. By the time Bill Clinton came to prominence, his party was closely associated with black interests.

Then he linked this to the very long history of white Americans seeing black Americans as invalid -- not "real" Americans. I was especially amazed to read that people argued that Frederick Douglass didn't actually write Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass because he was just an ignorant black man. This goes right along with claims that Obama didn't write Dreams from My Father. How far we've come! But the point is that anyone but white Europeans are not just The Other, but are beings who just can't be anything but unworthy outsiders.

So any Democratic president is going to be treated as an interloper. It doesn't matter if they get 90% of the vote. And as we saw after the 2008 election, a certain segment of the conservative movement doesn't accept voting. This is why ACORN was such a prime target for them. These people will never believe that the nation is changing. Instead, we get "black presidents" because ACORN and other nefarious groups are stealing elections. This is also why conservatives have embraced voter-identification laws. It isn't about winning future elections (for the base). It is about making sure that elections are honest because they just know that real America (white America) could never have a president who cared about those non-white aliens.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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