In one of the first moves to secure his re-eletion bid, President Obama is going to the National Action Network convention. It’s a move that is deliberate, and indicative of the situation in which the President finds himself.
National Action Network is the national organization headed by the media proclaimed “Black leader” Rev. Al Sharpton. Rev. Sharpton is known for highly publicized racial and controversial issues that he brings to media attention. This is a dubioous ability as it has led to controversies like the Tawana Brawley case, his complete absence in the Oscar Grant and Megan Williams cases, and his late apperance in the Jena 6 case. Which hardly covers his history and involvements.
The reason for the appearance is 2-fold. First there is the fact that President Obama made a promise to appear when he was then candidate-Sen. Obama. The other reason is because President Obama is Black. For some the concept may be a bit shocking, but it does make sense.
Given that the Obama Administration was ushered in on wings and announcements of a post-racial America, race has always surrounded the President. In no uncertain terms race was and continues to be a key in the massive support that President Obama receives from the Black community. The connection of race and President Obama only intensified after his outburst denouncing police arresting his friend Professor Gates, the decision by Attorney General Holder to dismiss the New Black Panther Party case and the recent emphasis on lowering police exams for African Americans in Dayton, Ohio.
It is these issues of race, and the ever present fact that President Obama is the embodiment of a dream many African Americans believed would never happen (or at least in their lifetime) that has ensured he will maintain the majority of African American voters support. But such support is not complete or everlasting – as one now famous town hall question proved. The fact that unemployment among African Americans has consistently exceeded the national average by almost double (now at 15.5%) does not help either.
This is where Rev. Sharpton plays a critical role. President Obama can use Rev. Sharpton to connect with the African American community, without further enhancing the appearance of favoritism that some White Americans hold. Its a political dance that hinges on the perception of the audience. It’s playing a race card without having an opponent to use the card against. It is also an absolute necessity since President Obama can virtually guarantee that far fewer non-African Americans will not vote for him in 2012.
The loss of votes is due to the normal failure of expectations that every President goes through, coupled with the very real failures of the Stimulus, the mortgage prevention program, the increase and stabilization of high unemployment, and the passage of the Health Care Reform. Of course the racial issues noted above factor in as well.
Thus every vote from a person of color is critical. The fact is President Obama needs these votes, even as he cannot actively look like he is trying to retain these votes. Sadly the biggest factor cementing these votes to him is as shallow as the layers of skin on his body.
Still, Rev. Sharpton cannot remove one very definitive thought. As stated by Carol Swain, a Vanderbilt University political science professor,
“Black people are in many ways worse off today than they have been in decades. They’re worse off than if there was a white president, because a white president has to do something for the black community. Obama doesn’t have to do anything.”
Its an uphill battle that is unsettling to even consider.
Since President Obama has decided to run for re-election, he is automatically caught in a tug-of-war based on race if he does or does not speak to African American voters. The very person that was praised as the herald of post-racial politics is in fact the most racially conflicted and entrenched President, second only to perhaps President Lincoln. It is hardly an position any politician would want there strongest opponent to be caught in.
But here is the twist in this thickening plot. IF President Obama can navigate on this razor edge of racial tension, then it might be possible to use that same fear of being label racially biased against ANY political opponent in the 2012 Presidential election. In a PC-friendly news media that vehemently opposes Conservatives and Republicans, it might just be the factor that can lead to re-election.
Of course it would also mean that the Presidential election would be simultaneously cheapened and sullied by that very same fact. To be sure, the 2012 Presidential election will be remembered for a long time to come.
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