The Politics of Racism in Politics
In an article from the New York Times Opinion Pages entitled "The Persistence of Racial Resentment". The writer explores the position that racial attitudes have changed under President Obama. He discusses the statistical contradiction that Obama performed better among white voters in 2008 and 2012 than the two previous white Democratic nominees yet the percentage of people holding anti-black attitudes have also increased. The article references the studies of political scientists Michael Tesler of Brown University and David O. Sears of UCLA. In their 2010 paper, “President Obama and the Growing Polarization of Partisan Attachments by Racial Attitudes and Race,” Tesler and Sears argue that
"...Our evidence indicates that Obama activated older and more blatant forms of racial prejudice like old fashioned racism and anti-black affect even more powerfully. While both of these outdated attitudes were unrelated to party identification in the years and decades preceding the 2008 election, we show that they have become significantly linked to white partisanship in the age of Obama. Finally, we show that Obama substantially increased the black-white racial divide in both macro partisanship and in strength of Democratic identification."
Based on this study does it mean that racism is on the rise? The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines racism as:
1: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capabilities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
I submit that modern day racism is based on fear, primarily the fear of losing power. In our society power is often tied to wealth. This wealth has resided in the hands of the elite few, the "two percent". Do you think they feel threatened by Obama and the Democratic platform?
During the last campaign season there were many groups pushing an agenda based on fear. The Tea Party may have led the charge but they were not the only culprits. How can we forget Mitt Romney's statement "...I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives..."?
Gloria J. Browne-Marshall, an Associate Professor of Constitutional Law at John Jay College in New York City writes in an article entitled "The Great White Vote And Romney's Fear-mongering"
Fear-mongering is hardly Romney’s original idea. He is merely the receptacle for ultra-conservatism. In exchange for providing an effective mechanism to convince White-American males of America’s danger, Romney receives an opportunity to become the most famous missionary for Mormonism in the history of his religion.
In the eyes of many President Obama represents a threat to what they hold near and dear. Bill O’Reilly of FOX News made it quite clear during the election, “it’s not a traditional America any more…..the white establishment is now the minority” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFcAzIWOHpU.
Considering the messaging, one can expect a rise in racism or "anti-black attitudes" as it was called in the New York Times Op Ed.
Ernest R. Heyward is the Founder and President of the Marketplace for Social Awareness and Social Responsibility Inc.