Apparently, Obama’s overwhelming advantage among black voters nationwide and in South Carolina is having the effect of making white voters wary of him. His impending victory in South Carolina is being described by Dick Morris, among others, as a signal event that will unify whites against him. For a long time, I thought Obama had transcended the racial stuff by creating real enthusiasm among younger people of all races for his campaign, including independents and Republicans.
For a while there, everyone thought Obama’s blackness would help him; he became this messianic figure that would heal our racial divisions. He would let white voters confirm to themselves that they’re not racist. But then people began to be uneasy. The ethnic bias of his supporters made him and his future look more Jesse Jackson than Sidney Portier.
It appears that the professional pundits are finally realizing something I said months ago:
The electorate includes mechanics, prison guards, soldiers, secretaries, truck drivers, and others who, while very much in favor of American meritocracy, are skeptical of black politicians. They are skeptical because these folks seem as a class to look out for group interests, including the group-interest of affirmative action and government set-aside contracts. David Dinkins, a decent man and a natural centrist, was frequently boxed in by his view that he could not “sell out” his black supporters by taking sides in controversial incidents like the boycott of a Korean grocery store, engineered by Sharpton. I think black Democrats today are justly viewed in much the same way as Catholic Democrats were 50 to 100 years ago: alienated, somewhat corrupt, politically immature, and frequently hostile to traditional American values such as individualism and free enterprise.
Even liberal-minded Americans equate black politicians with ethnic pay-offs and the pursuit of parochial group interests. For Obama, far from being an asset, his status as a black Democrat is a liability that he will have to overcome, just as JFK had to overcome the burden of his Catholicism.
This development teaches me not to backtrack during the temporary ebb and flow of a campaign. I said this once and then, bamboozled by the Obama myth and the Obama media reportage, backtracked from this analysis in my own mind even though all of the important facts had not changed. I need to trust my instincts.