by Gary Bauer
You know internal White House polling must be dismal if the President and his allies are dropping all pretense of “Obama the Uniter” to embrace the sordid politics of racial division. And that’s exactly what they are doing.
That liberals cast every issue through a racial prism is not exactly news to conservatives. What’s interesting is that the Left’s racialism is not fundamentally about race but rather about using one of society’s most divisive issue to distract voters when it has lost an argument. By framing every issue in racial terms, liberals avoid having to engage their opponents on the substance of debates it can’t win.
Democrats and the liberal media constantly suggest that criticism of the president, especially the sort that emanates from talk radio and appears in block lettering on signs at Tea Party rallies, is racially charged.
Opposition to Obamacare quickly became labeled as pent up racism against the country’s first black president, rather than disagreement over socializing the best medical system in the world. A new Arizona law that, as an MSNBC headline put it, makes it a crime to be an illegal immigrant, has been immediately cast as xenophobic and racist (even though the new law strictly prohibits racial profiling). But Obama is the master of exploiting race for political ends.
In a Democratic National Committee video released this week, the president attempts to rally the troops for the upcoming Democratic bloodbath that will be the mid-term elections. Obama implores “young people, African Americans, Latinos and women” to unite and go to the polls for Democrats just like they did back in 2008.
The video is a self-conscious acknowledgement of the enthusiasm chasm between Democratic and Republican voters. It’s also a desperate attempt to energize voters with an “us versus them” appeal. Obama ran for president as a post-partisan, post-racial uniter. But his knee-jerk response to the coming disaster is to divide on racial grounds.
When Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested in Cambridge, Massachusetts, last summer, Obama immediately cast the matter as fundamentally about racism. While admitting that he did not know the facts of the case, Obama offered that Cambridge policemen had acted “acted stupidly.”
“There’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately,” he said. “That’s just a fact.”
Of course, when the facts became known, it was clear Sgt. Crowley had acted sensibly and that Gates had not. But it didn’t matter. Obama had already framed the entire debate in racialist terms; the truth of the case became mostly irrelevant.
The left has learned that to brand something—a movement, a law, a politician—as racist is to make it toxic even to those who know the label is false. Liberals know that just a hint of a racial component is enough to shut down most debate over issues they can’t win on their merits.
Even when there’s no proof that race is involved, liberals will often just make it up, as black Democratic congressmen seem to have done when they accused protestors of greeting them with racial epithets as they walked through a Tax Day protest on Capitol Hill.
The new Arizona immigration law merely adds a state penalty to what was already a federal crime. It expressly “prohibits the use of race or nationality as the sole basis for an immigration check.” In fact, Arizona police can only conduct an immigration status check after someone has been stopped for another offense.
The Left’s racial obsession is only a means to an end. Democrats see in the law a chance to energize the minority voters they are so worried won’t show up in November.
Liberals hype nonexistent racism by conservatives even as they ignore clear evidence of racial insensitivity and worse among their own.
If the Left were truly as race conscious as it presents itself, Joe Biden, who during the 2008 primaries, called Obama “articulate, and bright and clean and nice looking” would not be vice president. If racial insensitivity mattered as much as Democrats insist it does, Harry Reid, who it was revealed earlier this year referred to Obama as a “negro,” would no longer be Senate majority leader.
If the Tea Partiers were pushing a liberal policy agenda, no one on the Left would even notice that most of them are white. I didn’t attend the Earth Day rally on the Mall in Washington, D.C., but judging by photos of the crowd, the event had about the same proportion of whites as do the Tea Parties. But I won’t hold my breath waiting for media commentators to point that out to us.
Racism is a non-partisan sickness. But the crass exploitation of race for political advantage has become the first refuge of desperate Democrats. But this time, it doesn’t appear to be working.
Former presidential candidate Mr. Gary Bauer is president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families.