Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Politics of Racism, The Democratic Party, and Barack Obama


Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), who like Mahoney has not endorsed either Obama or Clinton, is concerned about Obama's poor performance among Latino voters in California and Texas. "It's unfortunate," he said, "because Barack Obama has done very well with Latino voters in Illinois, and I know his heart, and it's for an inclusive agenda."


This very revealing quote by Senator Salazar above speaks directly to the hostile political forces of white and Latino working and middle class RACISM that is currently stifling Obama's chances for the Democratic Party nomination. If it were not for what has been in effect A NATIONAL ANTI-OBAMA COALITION of white and Latino working and middle class voters in the states of California, New York, New Jersey, Texas, Ohio, and Nevada Obama would have already won the nomination a month ago or at least no later than last tuesday. It's now also crystal clear to me that with an almost certain primary defeat looming on April 22 in the racially hostile state of Pennsylvania Obama's very real chances to secure the nomination are being severely curtailed if not sabotaged by this geographically selective coalition that the Clintons knew they could and would tap into from the very beginning of their campaign. Clearly the Clinton machine made all kinds of secret promises of political patronage, appointments, and MONEY to the national Latino political leadership because they knew about (and cultivated) the already simmering racial and political hostility many Latinos feel and have historically felt toward African Americans (this is especially true of Mexican Americans though many Puerto Rican Americans aren't much better). The ugly truth that very few Democratic Party political organizers and operatives are willing to admit or publicly say out loud is that other minority groups of color as well as the white working and lower middle class often ENVY, HATE, AND FEAR black people and are deeply jealous of their political and cultural independence and savvy. Many whites and Latinos even have the rather bizarre and erroneous idea that African Americans have more "status" than they do or that blacks don't really deserve what they do have. If you don't believe this check out the general racial attitudes of urbanized Latinos and suburban based white workers and middle class professionals toward urban blacks and suburban based black middle class professionals in states like Michigan, Ohio, California, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Florida.

I fear that Obama is definitely suffering the social and political fallout from this 'racial coalition' of working and middle class whites and Latinos and further this situation tells me that Obama is in real danger of losing the nomination if the DNC and the internal Democratic Party elite (mostly via the superdelegate vote) decide that Hillary would fare better with this essentially anti-Obama coalition in the states I mentioned above. IMO it's definitely something to ponder and makes me particularly worried about Obama's chances at this point. Because let's face it: IF SOMEONE LIKE OBAMA WITH ALL HIS PROFESSIONAL, POLITICAL, AND EDUCATIONAL BONA FIDES CAN'T GET THE NOMINATION NO AFRICAN AMERICANS ANYWHERE WILL EVER HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO SERIOUSLY RUN FOR THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY. So long as Latinos and the white working class and lower middle class keep opposing black people on racist principle we haven't got a chance in hell to be a major force in American politics in the future. Even now the Clintons are essentially saying "A black guy CAN'T win the Presidency" though absolutely no one in their camp has the guts or honesty to say it this directly out loud in public. But that's what they really mean when they talk about who now has the best chance of "winning key states" in the national election. By courting and for the most part "buying off" the national Latino vote in the ways that they have the Clintons have made absolutely sure of that. Under these circumstances it's a huge understatement to say they're also aware why the task for Obama is even more difficult.

As usual for African Americans in this country the fundamental problem is still far TOO MANY RACIST ENEMIES. As always in American history outside of capitalism itself, anti-black racism remains by far the most powerful and destructive ideological, political, and social force in American society--even among many other people-of-color. Or as the old expression goes: "Always outnumbered, always outgunned." The essential and tragic truth of that fact is predictably playing itself out in this race no matter what anyone says otherwise.


Downside of Obama Strategy
Losses in Big States Spur General-Election Fears

"If you don't win Ohio, if you don't win Pennsylvania, you've got problems in November," a Clinton supporter said.

By Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, March 8, 2008

Democrats in Wyoming will hold caucuses today and -- following what is now a familiar pattern -- are expected to give Sen. Barack Obama the majority of their 12 pledged delegates.

The Illinois Democrat's strength in a Republican state that has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964 is the latest example of an ingenious strategy that neatly addresses the advantage Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) enjoys in Democratic strongholds where she and her husband have long-standing ties.

But Obama's losses Tuesday in Texas and Ohio -- coupled with his Feb. 5 defeats in California, New York and New Jersey -- have not only shown the strategy's downside. They have also given supporters of Clinton an opening for an argument that winning over affluent, educated white voters in small Democratic enclaves, such as Boise, Idaho, and Salt Lake City, and running up the score with African Americans in the Republican South exaggerate his strengths in states that will not vote Democratic in the fall.

If Obama becomes the Democratic nominee but cannot win support from working-class whites and Hispanics, they argue, then Democrats will not retake the White House in November. "If you can't win in the Southwest, if you don't win Ohio, if you don't win Pennsylvania, you've got problems in November," said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a Clinton supporter.

Even some Obama advisers see a real problem. "Ultimately, all that matters is how the nominee stacks up against John McCain," said one adviser who spoke on the condition of anonymity, referring to the senator from Arizona and presumptive GOP nominee. "Right now, Barack is not connecting with the children of the Reagan Democrats. That's a real concern."

"It's now a battle between the base and the new young Democrats and Democrats who are more energized than they've been in the past," agreed Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), an Obama supporter. "I don't know how that's going to play out."

With the campaign moving next week to Mississippi, another Republican state where Obama is expected to do well, these questions will only grow louder as the Clinton camp tries to minimize the importance of those states while raising the stakes for Pennsylvania on April 22.

Obama and his allies counter that California and New York are firmly in the Democratic column and that, as the party's nominee, he could carry them just as easily as Clinton.

David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, said he is not going to be goaded into shifting from the current strategy, which is to get as many delegates from wherever he can. And he rejects what he says is the Clinton campaign's attempt to give greater legitimacy to certain states -- especially Pennsylvania, where Clinton is expected to have an advantage because of her support from the Democratic establishment there and because its demographics are similar to Ohio's.

But many Democratic elected officials are worried. "No one's jumping up and down in Okeechobee, Florida, saying we've got a perfect ticket," agreed Rep. Tim Mahoney (Fla.), a moderate, unaffiliated Democrat in a swing district. "If you're a Barack Obama, you're going to have to figure out how to reach out to white, middle-aged men."

Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), who like Mahoney has not endorsed either Obama or Clinton, is concerned about Obama's poor performance among Latino voters in California and Texas. "It's unfortunate," he said, "because Barack Obama has done very well with Latino voters in Illinois, and I know his heart, and it's for an inclusive agenda."

Obama rejects the charge that he has failed to reach important segments of the party, noting that he has shown he can crack Clinton's coalition of working-class voters, women and Latinos with his wins in the bellwether state of Missouri, the swing state of Virginia and the Rust Belt redoubt of Wisconsin. He also showed that he can expand the battleground into the coveted Mountain West, with his convincing win in Colorado.

"If you don't win Ohio, if you don't win Pennsylvania, you've got problems in November," a Clinton supporter said.

"I don't buy into this demographic argument," Obama said. "Missouri, Wisconsin, Virginia -- in many of these states we've won the white vote and the blue-collar vote and so forth. I think it is very important not to somehow focus on a handful of states because the Clintons say those states are important and that the other states are unimportant."To be sure, Team Obama's small-state strategy may have been the candidate's only option against a far-better-known opponent, and it has worked. In the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday contests that Obama's campaign staff had hoped to merely survive, Obama and Clinton just about broke even. He won more delegates in Kansas and Idaho than she won in New Jersey. Her big win in California -- with its net gain of 41 delegates -- was negated by his wins in Georgia and Nebraska.

"Senator Obama went where he had to go," said former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack (D), a Clinton backer. "They had a well-thought-out strategic plan, and they carried it out with real discipline."

In the ensuing weeks, Obama appeared to consolidate his support among the rest of the Democratic coalition. He prevailed in the diverse state of Missouri, won over rural and working-class whites in his Virginia and Maryland routs, and then prevailed easily in Wisconsin.

David Axelrod, Obama's chief campaign strategist, said the strategy had an upside beyond the compiling of delegates. Obama was building a case with superdelegates that his appeal to nontraditional voters would have a ripple effect down the ballot in swing states such as Colorado and Iowa, where some of those superdelegates will be running for reelection. And by building organizations in all 50 states, Obama can make the case that he has an infrastructure primed and ready for the general election.

Then came Ohio and Texas, and all the old fears of Obama's narrow appeal came flooding back.

"A lot of the states he's winning are states that we're not going to win in November," said Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), a Clinton supporter. "It's not a strategy that bodes well, in my opinion."

A Clinton campaign memo on Wednesday noted that of the 11 core Republican states that have held primaries or caucuses, Obama has won 10: Utah, Idaho, Nebraska, North Dakota, Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, South Carolina, Georgia and Louisiana. In 2004, Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), the Democratic nominee, lost each of these states by 15 points or more.

Obama aides still insist that it is a strategy that will work. Even after Tuesday, when he lost three out of four contests, Obama maintained his delegate lead. Indeed, his strength in the parallel caucuses in Texas may have actually given him more delegates than Clinton, even though she won the popular vote by 51 percent to 47 percent. But his campaign faces a legitimacy test that is beginning to resonate throughout the Democratic establishment: Can Obama win the big prizes?

With Pennsylvania looming, Obama has few good options. Some advisers say he should stick to a plan, hatched before Tuesday's defeats, to spend some time in the next weeks traveling to Europe, Israel and Asia to bolster his credentials for the general election. But if he cedes the state completely, he destroys his strategy of winning big in the small states and staying close in the big ones.

Axelrod and other Obama aides said they have learned their lesson from Tuesday. Rather than accept Pennsylvania as a tiebreaker, they will play down their chances there and keep the focus on states such as North Carolina and Indiana, where they think their chances are better.

Pennsylvania's primary will be followed by contests in West Virginia, Indiana and Kentucky, all of which have similar, lunch-pail demographics. If Clinton enters the summer on a roll, especially in the big states, the superdelegates may no longer feel that backing her would be opposing the will of the voters, an Obama supporter said.

"Superdelegates are politicians. They will not buck the will of the voters," said a superdelegate supporting Obama. "The danger point comes if the superdelegates don't see a vote for Clinton as bucking anyone."