The headline of a recent article by the Washington Post’s Peter Wallsten capsulizes, inadvertently, the supreme paradox of the Obama presidency.
“Obama struggles to balance African America’s hopes with country’s as a whole,” it says.
The story documents Obama’s struggles over the last four years, which continue today, to avoid overplaying his hand as the first black president, yet to also not ignore this fact.
But nowhere does Wallsten note the irony that four years ago many understood the meaning of Obama’s election as the beginning of the end of the perception of black America as a world apart from the rest of America.
There was exhilaration that the nightmare was over – finally. That wrongs have been righted, that we can get on with America’s business without the ongoing issue of race looming, and that we can stop looking at blacks politically as a special class of Americans.
Yet here we are now at the end of four years of the presidency of this first black president, and attitudes about race seem to have hardly changed at all. There is still the sense that black America and the rest of America are not on the same page and that blacks and the country “as a whole” have different needs and different agendas.
Wasn’t Obama’s election supposed to have changed all of this?
Not only have racial tensions not improved, but the racial divide appears to have widened.
“Win or lose,” Wallsten continues, “the electorate that decides his fate Nov. 6 will be far more racially divided than the one that propelled him into the history books.”
According to a Gallup poll done last year, the third year of the Obama presidency, the election of a black man as president had little impact on the enormous difference in perceptions of blacks and whites on the need for government activism.
Fifty nine percent of blacks, compared to 19 percent of whites, said that government should play a “major role” in trying to improve the social and economic position of blacks and other minority groups in this nation.
Fifty two percent of blacks, compared to 15 percent of whites, said new laws are needed to reduce discrimination against blacks.
If Barack Obama’s election has had little or no impact on improving racial politics or changing the sense that blacks must be viewed as a special political class, what exactly, practically, has it meant?
Rather than making things better, it has really made matters worse.
From the perspective of Democrat-voting blacks, the implication of a black president was not a more racially just America. It was about assuming there would be a man in the White House more prepared to sign off on special political treatment for blacks. To the extent this has not happened, there has been dissatisfaction.
From the perspective of conservatives, tensions have increased because criticism of Obama’s big-government liberalism has been spun as racially motivated.
The Obama presidency has not ushered in a new era of racial tranquility because, despite all the hype, it’s not what it has been about.
The real tension in America today is not about black versus white but about liberalism versus conservatism.
Liberalism is about government as a political agent, not as a protector of individual freedom. By it’s very nature, liberalism creates political classes – whether based on race or gender or business interests. Those that get the goodies are happy. Those that pay for them are not. Tensions and animosities get worse, not better.
In the end, we all suffer because giving politicians more power means less growth and prosperity.
Things will never get solved until we finally take “e pluribus unum” seriously – that American diversity can only be finally united through one set of values, under God, that enable freedom, one set of true values for all.
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Beyond the overriding economic control that the federal government now has over citizens, federal courts now dictate our social norms. (comments)
The black unemployment rate in North Carolina is more than double that of whites. (comments)
American families have been damaged and out-of-wedlock births have increased six-fold from 1960 to 42 percent today. Government has displaced family. (comments)
Republicans should resist temptation to pander and point Hispanics in the direction of freedom and opportunity, what got them here in the first place. (comments)
Diversity should be about about recognizing "diversity of people's gifts, talents, and skills." (comments)
Low-income black parents need options, choices, for educating their children outside the public school monopoly. (comments)
Since Johnson, the government has spent $15 trillion dollars fighting poverty without reducing poverty. (comments)
What do successful, wealthy black entrepreneurs know that they are not sharing with their own? (comments)
In our president's take on the world, if there is a winner who winds up better off there must be a loser who winds up equally worse off. (comments)
The Tea Party captures a groundswell of dissatisfaction with business-as-usual in how our country is being run. (comments)
What kind of discussion can take place with those who equate a procedure in which one life is destroyed and another put at risk with going to the dentist? (comments)
In 20 years there will be no funds to pay one third of the benefits of retirees. (comments)
The growing percentage of our voters is not white and they largely vote for Democrats. (comments)
Free choice and private initiative seems to violate the religious convictions of liberals. (comments)
Why does America convey neutrality between a nation that is indisputably free and a government that is not? (comments)
In a Pew Research survey of last October, 25 percent of blacks expressed favorability toward the Tea Party, just 6 points less than whites. (comments)
Everyone, except the teachers unions, seems to grasp that public education in America, particularly in low-income communities, suffers because of lack of competition. (comments)
Mainstream means shrugging your shoulders at $17 trillion in federal debt, $4 trillion in federal spending, and a tax code of over 73,000 pages. (comments)
Cochran's agenda is to serve up government pork and protect the interests of his friends in Washington. (comments)