Racial Divide Worse Under Obama|
November 5, 2012
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,”
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
“Win or lose,” Wallsten continues, “the electorate that decides his fate
November 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
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 implications 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
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.
Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal
and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based
public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle
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