Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Black President, Double Standard: Why White Liberals Are Abandoning Obama

Electing President Obama proved that white Americans are no longer unwilling to vote for a black president, but Harris-Perry (HP) claims Obama’s re-election bid reveals a subtler form of racism is currently at play. What HP wishes to address is whether or not white liberals hold black leaders to a higher standard than white counterparts. HP believes this new form of racism, termed liberal electoral racism, “is the willingness to abandon a black candidate when he is just as competent as his white predecessors.”

HP chose Bill Clinton as a “relevant comparison” in order to prove her liberal electoral racism theory a reality. She detailed the two President’s records on health care reform, gay rights, unemployment, and rated their general effectiveness. Overall, she determined that Obama has been more effective than Clinton, yet Clinton was re-elected with “a general election result more favorable than his first win.” Thus, if support for Obama in the upcoming election is dramatically different from the previous election “it may be possible to read that result as the triumph of a more subtle form of racism.”


alexrued said...

What HP failed to mention was the fact that decline in approval ratings for Obama have occurred across the board. HP wrote, “President Obama has experienced a swift and steep decline in support among white Americans—from 61 percent in 2009 to 33 percent now.” This may be true, but Politico notes that the “falloff among blacks is even more stark: "From 77 percent supporting his record on the economy last year to just over 50 percent in 2011." Unless both blacks and whites are racist, her theory is not very sound.

I’d like to address HP’s decision to use Clinton as a “relevant comparison.” HP neglected to detail the difference in political climate experienced by Clinton and Obama, which could account for why voters are especially unimpressed with Obama’s leadership. Under Clinton the US was the world’s sole superpower. Today, China and India have stepped forth as economic powers, leaving the US in a less stable situation. The economy wasn’t great when Clinton entered office, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it is today—and bad economy/instability means unhappy voters. Clinton very quickly lost both houses of Congress, providing a convenient excuse for inaction on his part. Although Clinton did send troops for small conflicts overseas, he was president during a peaceful time relative to Obama, who faces troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. Last but not least, under Bill Clinton there was a budget surplus, but Obama presided over the recent budget debacle that led many Americans to lose faith in politicians.

Finally, this article also doesn’t take into account the rise and continued strength of partisan politics. The right and left are becoming increasingly polarized, and it would make sense that the few right-leaning moderates, disillusioned with the unpopular Bush presidency decided to take a chance on a seemingly moderate democrat. Now, after realizing Obama wasn’t as moderate as they had hoped, they will most likely switch back to straight GOP voting. This doesn’t make them racist.

TJE said...

She got very annoyed by criticisms.