Tag Archives: Election

It’s About Change – Race, Class and the Re-Election of Barack Obama


I have been reminded of three incidents involving a stranger, a friend and an acquaintance the days following President Obama’s historic re-election.

First, I will relay the incident with the stranger. When I was a teenager, I loved reading fashion magazines to see all the latest trends and beauty products. I was reading the letters to the editor of one magazine and discovered that, for the first time ever, a black model had graced the cover the previous month. The letters from readers were mostly positive for this “bold” move. I thought it was ridiculous to consider the model’s selection for the cover as bold given the time period was the late 1980s-early ‘90s. The last letter, however, changed my mind. It was from a woman who explained that while she applauded the magazine’s decision to select a black woman as the cover model she also appreciated her white world. If she wanted to look at black models, she would buy a black fashion magazine. Simply put, she did not appreciate seeing a black woman on the cover the magazine. As I scanned the inside of the magazine, I discovered the articles, advertisements and photos were still geared towards her “white world” and I was sure it was same for the previous month. That, obviously, was either lost or did not matter to the reader. She still felt her world – as she knew it – was being compromised.

The second incident involves a friend. We were chatting during a break in our work day. He began to tell me how he had railed against an officer some months earlier who had pulled him over for speeding. He went on and on about he interrupted the officer while he was speaking and shouted expletives at him. When I asked him if the officer responded to his tirade, he said he didn’t. My friend said the officer just looked at him and let him go with a warning. When I told him I found it hard to believe that he could get away with such disrespect and disregard of an officer and his instructions, he thought a moment then said, “It probably would have gone differently if I weren’t white.”

The third incident involves a social media acquaintance the day after President Obama’s re-election. The acquaintance was upset at the results but resigned to the outcome. I knew her political leanings from earlier posts throughout the campaign so her written tantrum wasn’t surprising. However, a comment written in response to her post caught my eye. The commenter was also upset, but the reason was enlightening. He was saddened because “the America of my parents and grandparents is gone.”

Yes, America is changing. Whether it is for the better or worse depends solely upon your perspective. President Obama’s re-election proved that White privilege no longer assures victory. It is not enough to be White, male and rich. It is not enough to play on the emotions of middle class whites by promising action without clearly defining an action plan. Rich, white males are going to have to put forth the effort, i.e. work, and seriously consider what is best for all Americans and not just be concerned about one class (upper) while stirring up the inherent fears in another (middle). White men can no longer play the race card.

It is also not enough for black men to blame society for a lack of opportunity and/or direction. At one time, there were chains and laws that prevented them from sharing in the American dream. The only chains and laws preventing them now are the ones placed and enacted through generation after generation of mindsets. Every door isn’t open just as every door isn’t open for poor whites, Hispanics, Asians, and other ethnic groups. However, enough doors are open so that with a sufficient amount of drive, goals and the desire to achieve those goals, i.e. work, success can happen. Black men can no longer play the race card.

Race is the superficial issue at hand; the core is class. The Haves versus the Have-Nots. The classes are blinded by race because, historically, the Have-Nots have been Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and other ethnic groups. That is no longer the case. Economic hardships affect all races but not always all classes. Unfortunately, we live in a world where a disproportionate amount of Haves are not willing to share a portion of their wealth and influence to assist the Have-Nots, which are the majority. I’m not referring to welfare or hand-outs; I’m referring to a fair representation of taxes to ease the burdens of millions of hard-working and tax-paying citizens. It is common sense that, in a country that assesses taxes, those who have more should pay more. Instead, the Haves play on the fears of the Have-Nots by threatening to terminate workers, suspend cost of living increases or close companies and move to other countries with weaker policies. The Haves know that money is a motivator because it is what motivates them, not loyalty to country or concern for the masses. The Haves garner the support of the Have-Nots because the Have-Nots fear losing their jobs and all for which they have worked. The Haves continually play on the Have-Nots fears out of their own fear of compromising –not losing – the abundant wealth they have accumulated. That fear is being projected upon the President – a black man from meager beginnings who, by all conventional wisdom, did not stand a chance of being elected the leader of the free world much less re-elected. He has shaken the certainty of the white world. He is proof that America’s old way of thinking is falling by the wayside. His re-election signals the end of playing race cards.

America is now a true melting pot of ethnicities and a land of opportunities for all. Those sentiments are no longer just propaganda distributed to the rest of world. We’re finally living it. We can accept this change and work together. Or, some can continue to resent this change and refuse to bend. All businesses know that they must adapt to change in order to maintain their standings or they will fold. The same holds true for societies. Now is not the time for arrogance, hate-mongering and posturing. We need to come together as Americans without all the labels and fears. Our refusal to do so will, ultimately, result in our downfall.


The State of the Union Address and Republican Response – Doing What’s Right or Hollywood Hype?

At least no one shouted, “You lie!” this time.

President Barack Obama delivered the State of the Union address tonight in full campaign mode, highlighting his accomplishments (the death of Osama bin Laden, creation of jobs, the success of the auto industry) and future goals for America including:

• Tax reform for businesses that outsource jobs and tax breaks for businesses that create jobs in America (which seemed to be met with bipartisan approval)
• The appointment of a trade department to regulate and investigate foreign piracy and taxation (not so much bipartisan approval. Even I, a supporter of the president, feel this may be a waste of taxpayer money)
• Immigration reform (there were camera shots of John McCain who appeared somewhat bemused)
• Unemployment reform (change it from an unemployment program to a re-employment program, met with bipartisan approval)
• Equal pay for women (met with approval from the female members of Congress and the Senate. Camera shot of Laurene Powell Jobs, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ widow)
• Clean energy
• Banking reform
• Agriculture Reform
• Health care reform (strictly partisan approval)
• Unit to investigate reckless lenders (Again, not so sure I agree with this one – waste of taxpayer money. Received, in my opinion, a deserved lukewarm response)
• Revoking tax breaks for wealthy Americans (also met with lukewarm response. What can one expect from an auditorium mostly filled with millionaires?)
• Congress and Senate reform (stepped on some toes with that one)
• Foreign policy

Of course, the Republican senators and congressmen spent the majority of the time with stern countenances as President Obama relayed his vision. Speaker of the House John Boehner set the Republican tone earlier by calling the president’s speech “pathetic” so that was no surprise. What’s surprising is that neither party is willing to work with the other to better the conditions and circumstances of the everyday American citizen. Actually, it’s shameful. The president stated he does not want to return to the same policies that placed America in this recession. I argue no one – Democrat or Republican, Tea Party or Libertarian – wants that. Hopefully, they will prove it by stopping childish name-calling and finger-pointing and getting to the business of fixing this country. Note: I found it strange that as ABC went to a commercial break, it was announced that the State of the Union Address and Republican Response were being brought to us by The Descendants, which is a current theatrical release starring George Clooney. Well, ABC is owned by the Walt Disney Company. Which begs the question: Did I just view a big Hollywood production?

Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana delivered the Republican response. The response went pretty much as expected: The President is wrong. His polices are wrong. His ideals are wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Republicans are right. The only way to cure what ails America is vote in a Republican president and Senate. He advised America’s problems are mathematical, but didn’t provide an actual formula or solution. To really get the viewer’s riled, we were enlightened to the fact that the Obama administration works to divide Americans by courting favor to certain groups. We were also enlightened that the current administration feels we are too incompetent to self-govern. Woo-Wee, them there’s fightin’ words!

Hmmm, this may really be one great big Hollywood production, after all.

(Texas) Politics As Usual

President Barack Obama will attend a Democratic Party fundraiser in Houston, Texas next month. However, the state’s top Democrat, former Houston mayor and current gubernatorial candidate Bill White, won’t be attending. Instead, White is choosing to spend the day campaigning in Dallas.

Are you kidding me? For those not familiar with Texas geography, there are approximately 300 miles separating the two cities. By air, it takes about 40 minutes to travel from Dallas to Houston and vice versa. Commuter planes depart every hour between the two destinations. Certainly, White could hop one of those planes, make an appearance with Obama at the fundraiser then return to Dallas and continue stumping.

Rick Perry, the current Republican governor of Texas, hit the nail on the head when he suggested the real reason White is choosing to snub the fundraiser – President Obama’s waning popularity nationwide and his practically non-existent popularity in Texas.

“This guy is trying to shut the state down with EPA regulations, cap and trade,” said Texas Governor Rick Perry. “Obamacare, I’ve got to think, is not the most popular piece of legislation to come out of DC. I understand why Bill White doesn’t want to be around him.”

To be clear, I don’t support Rick Perry at all. I’ve always viewed him as nothing more than a talking bobble-head. But, in this instance, I appreciate the fact that he did not ignore the elephant in the room (no pun intended). This move by White proves to me that, underneath it all, he is no different than Perry and the majority of politicians out there. Jump on what’s hot, shy away from those who are not, and win, win, win by any means necessary.

Memo to White: If you really want to separate yourself from the wolf pack, be the individual you claim to be. Don’t continue with politics as usual while hiding behind a reformist’s stance.

Perry doesn’t care much for Obama’s policies. In this respect, he voices his opinions and stands by them. Don’t think that I don’t realize Perry would most probably do the same as White if the tables were turned. The difference here is that Perry isn’t running a campaign stating he cares more about the state’s long-term future than the next election.

Houston Democratic State Representative Garnet Coleman countered that White’s decision to stay away should not be an issue. He is quoted as saying, “Somebody is trying to make it disrespectful, but the reality is he needs to run his race to be governor of the state of Texas.”

The only person making this disrespectful is White. Not just to Obama, but also to the voters of Texas for pretending to be something he obviously is not – a leader championing real change.