In an August 23rd, 2008 Slate essay, writer Jacob Weisberg says what a lot of us have been thinking (and fearing). If Obama loses the election, it will be because there are simply too many white people—particularly older white people—motivated by racial resentment, fear of black people, and outright ignorance and bigotry, who won’t vote for him. Period.
In other words, in a year that should be trending heavily Democratic, Obama may be having to overcome a racism deficit (5-10% or more who WON’T vote for him under any circumstances) that other “generic” Democrats (read white Democrats) would not encounter.
Put another way, race may be taking a substantial number of white voters off the table for Obama before the counting has even begun.
Many have discoursed on what an Obama victory could mean for America. We would finally be able to see our legacy of slavery, segregation, and racism in the rearview mirror. Our kids would grow up thinking of prejudice as a nonfactor in their lives. The rest of the world would embrace a less fearful and more open post-post-9/11 America. But does it not follow that an Obama defeat would signify the opposite? If Obama loses, our children will grow up thinking of equal opportunity as a myth. His defeat would say that when handed a perfect opportunity to put the worst part of our history behind us, we chose not to.
The full article is excellent—and troubling—and can be read in full here: http://www.slate.com/id/2198397/?from=rss
Weisberg’s thesis also echoes an excellent book that I recommend on race and the 1988 Dukakis-Bush election by Tali Mendelberg titled, The Race Card, which can be found at Amazon here: