Project 21 New Visions

 

Kevin Martin

Playing the Race Card Without a Full Deck


by Kevin Martin (bio)

It's not surprising that the Obama political machine began playing the race card once the President's policies began to lose popularity.

What's surprising is how quickly it happened!

Consider Obama's post-racial America as just another broken promise.  Add it to the pile including transparency in government and no new taxes for households earning less than $250,000 a year.

People are upset.  The stimulus bill was rammed through Congress without much reading or debate of the bill.  Cap-and-trade legislation punishing people for using gas and coal instead of windmills and solar panels was similarly pushed through the House, where congressional leaders bought votes with earmarks.  Now the White House wants to nationalize health care the same way.

Polls show increasing public distrust and opposition to these proposals.  Where are those stimulus jobs?  Why isn't there more domestic oil exploration?  Will health care end up being rationed?

After constituent calls, letters and e-mails to Washington failed to get lawmakers to put the brakes on this headlong dash toward socialism, people began taking their concerns face-to-face with lawmakers.

Those who feel disfranchised by the way liberals are running Washington are showing up at town hall meetings to make sure their representatives - liberal, moderate and conservative - understand their concerns.

In a change from the Bush years, however, it appears liberals no longer consider dissent to be patriotic.  A Washington Post reporter wrote that town halls have "transcended their original purpose and become a kind of professional wrestling for the civically engaged."  More cynical critics suggest those exercising their constitutional rights are racists.

The leftists who selected Obama saw him as a vessel to pass the most radical agenda in decades.  They seem to have strategized that, once public opinion shifted away from them, they would use his race to try to silence his detractors.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Representative James Clyburn (D-SC) - a member of the congressional leadership - likened disgruntled constituents to mobs opposing the civil rights movement.  Clyburn said about current protests: "This is an attempt on the part of some to deny the establishment of a civil right."

Representative John Dingell (D-MI) told MSNBC: "[T]he last time I had to confront something like this was when I voted for the civil rights bill...  At that time, we had a lot of Ku Klux Klan folks and white supremacists and folks in white sheets and other things running around causing trouble."

Speaking of MSNBC, host Carlos Watson worried on-air "whether or not 'socialist' is becoming the new n-word for, frankly, for some angry upset birthers and others." 

"Birthers" refers to those concerned the President's reluctance to release his birth certificate may mean he was not born in America and thus ineligible to be president.  New York Times columnist Paul Krugman also imposed this fringe movement's beliefs on all town hall dissenters when he wrote "[T]he driving force behind the town hall mobs is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that's behind the "birther" movement, which denies Mr. Obama's citizenship... Does this sound familiar? It should: it's a strategy that has played a central role in American politics ever since Richard Nixon realized that he could advance Republican fortunes by appealing to the racial fears of working-class whites."

People speaking out at town halls are genuinely concerned about the direction our nation is being pushed.  They are frustrated because they feel they are removed from governing.

They are not racists.

What about their opposition?  The White House suggested supporters "punch back twice as hard."  At least one Obama follower took this literally in Missouri when Kenneth Gladney, a black man, was roughed up and reportedly called the n-word while handing out "Don't Tread on Me" flags at Representative Russ Carnahan's (D-MO) August 7 town hall meeting.

The actions.  The disfranchisement.  The hate speech.  When all the facts are on the table, it's clear who's bringing race into all this: Obama and his team.

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Kevin L. Martin is a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 black leadership network.  Comments may be sent to [email protected].

Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21 or the National Center for Public Policy Research.


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