Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Media's Three-Fifth's Compromise

This will be cross-posted over at BlogHer.com, and I would like to thank BlogHer.com for the invitation to post there.

I was wondering about what subject to write about, and I got my inspiration from reading some of the so-called Progressive blogs.

What upset me was the dismissiveness towards the South Carolina Primary.

A prevailing attitude comprised of, if Barack Obama wins South Carolina:
1. He only won because he's Black
2. It doesn't REALLY count as a win because of the sizeable Black population in South Carolina.



I'd like to concentrate on those two points.

1. He only won because he's Black

This is condescending to the nth degree. For this to be the case, then that would mean that Obama would have been leading in South Carolina from the moment he announced in February 2007. And, the truth of the matter is, the race in South Carolina, according to the polls, only has had Obama in the lead beginning THIS MONTH- January 2008.

In November 2007, Hillary Clinton had a ten-point advantage; December 2007, Clinton and Obama were tied. So, from February 2007 until December 2007, Barack Obama was trailing Hillary Clinton in South Carolina. So, what happened in December 2007? Did everyone Black in South Carolina JUST discover that Obama was Black and said , ' I'ze gots to vote for the Black guy!'

Or, could it be, as with Iowa, and New Hampshire, and Nevada, Senator Obama began from Ground Zero - little national name recognition and no organization. And, as with those other states, he began to build an organization in South Carolina, from the ground up, and through visiting and through campaign events, he began to become better known and present himself as a viable candidate for President.

You mean, Obama, gasp, actually campaigned for the Black vote in South Carolina?

Indeed, he did.

He said, from the beginning, that he would campaign for Black votes as he would any other group. And, he has done that.

What has he been up against?

Well, a Black Establishment in South Carolina full of Uncle Ruckus'. Uncle Ruckus, for those who don't know, is the self-hating,loathesome Sambo on The Boondocks. He's the type of Negro to which Harriet Tubman was referring when she said: " I freed thousands, and would have freed thousands more - if they only knew they were slaves."
Prime example of this is State Senator Robert Ford, who, back in February 2007, said the following about Obama's run for the Presidency:

Ford says he likes Obama, but thinks his candidacy would hurt Democrats. Ford says every Democrat on the ticket would lose with Obama as the presidential candidate because he is black.

"Then everybody else on the ballot is doomed. Every Democratic candidate running on that ticket would lose because he's black and he's at the top of the ticket. We'd lose the House, the Senate and the governors and everything. I'm a gambling man. I love Obama. But I'm not going to kill myself."


Lawd, Lawd, Lawd....The Black Man will DOOM US!

Sigh.

He still hadn't changed his mind after Iowa, in case you're wondering.

Obama was facing a very skeptical Black electorate, who just didn't believe that a Black man could actually be elected President. After all, this is America, and a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll asked if the country is ready for a Black president, 72 percent of Whites answered yes; only 61 percent of Blacks answered yes.

So, Obama faced a skeptical electorate; he was an unknown quantity, running against the most formidable Democratic Machine in a quarter century. All they knew about him was that he was a Senator from Illinois. And, what they did hear of him - Kenyan father, White mother, grew up outside of mainland USA - none of that translates well South of the Mason Dixon. Obama had work to do, and he did it. He did the grassroots organizing that helped him in the other first four states; he did the grunt work that a candidate starting with nothing does, and it helped him build himself in South Carolina. In this endeavor, Michelle Obama was Senator Obama's best campaign weapon, and she did a great job for him.

The tide began to turn Obama's way in South Carolina with the Oprah/Obama tour. Blacks were still hesitant. They were still on the fence. They were still skeptical that this was remotely possible. The coverage of the Iowa leg of the Oprah/Obama tour was very important. For Blacks to be able to SEE the response to Obama in that context. He could make 1,000 campaign commercials, and it wouldn't have matched that Iowa leg of the tour. When they arrived in South Carolina, to a stadium with a healthy percentage African-American audience, wondering, ' Could it be?' That was the question. While the demographics of Oprah's audience skew White, Oprah Winfrey is RESPECTED by Black women. Respected for all that she went through and still found a way, out of no way, as a visibly Black woman with Black features, to be quantified as an unmitigated American Success Story. And, along the way, Oprah never forgot that ' To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Expected', as her philanthropic efforts show.

Oprah basically told that audience that NOW is the time, and that this was the moment to believe. That don't listen to those who would tell you that Obama had to ' wait his turn'. That they KNEW what that meant; that, never in the history of THIS country, had ' Black' and ' the right time', ever been used together in a sentence.

Black South Carolina decided to believe; decided to ' go for it' on the night of January 3rd - when, in the middle of 90+% White Iowa, Barack Obama was declared the winner of the Iowa Caucus.

Some have derided Black South Carolinians for waiting for others to decide before making their own choice. I choose to believe that it IS a political sophistication and maturation on their part. After all, we've been through the symbolic runs for The Presidency: Shirley Chisholm in 1972, Jesse Jackson in 1984 & 1988. If this was about supporting ' The Black Candidate', when why didn't Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley Braun do better? Because, Black folk had ' been there and done that', and if they were going to invest in it, they wanted a candidate with a serious chance. They knew that any Black candidate couldn't be elected without White support, and they needed to see if Obama would actually get support in states where the Black electorate is negligible. Iowa and New Hampshire answered that question.

So, it took from February 2007 until January 2008, for Barack Obama to become a clear choice in South Carolina. It took that time for Black South Carolinians to accept that Barack Obama WAS a serious candidate, and all that means. That, they had to accept this 'New' type of Black leadership as not only valid, but viable. To become comfortable with the pretext that Barack Obama COULD NOT be ' The Black Candidate Running for President' a majority of the time, but that he had to be 'The Candidate Running for President Who Happens To Be Black', and make peace with that.

February 2007 - January 2008: That doesn't scream obvious; that doesn't scream overnight sensation; that screams that the Black South Carolinian Population was deliberate about their decision making in terms of the Democratic Primary and should be respected as such. If those voters were such sheep, then wouldn't they be following in lockstep with the Black Establishment in South Carolina that, for the most part, has declared themselves for Hillary Clinton?

Which brings me to the second point - An Obama victory in South Carolina doesn't REALLY count as a win because of the sizeable Black population in South Carolina.

So, let me get this straight - Hillary Clinton wins White women in New Hampshire, and it's this great victory, but if Barack Obama wins South Carolina, after ten months of campaigning, because of sizeable Black support, it doesn't REALLY count?

What is this - are we back to being Three-Fifths once again?

The Black vote doesn't count as much as the White vote?

I'm going to say this as obviously as I can:

YOU DO NOT WANT TO GO DOWN THIS ROAD.

You simply don't.

There is this underlying condescension that has been creeping into the "Progressive" blogs that, ' oh, well , THEY - meaning Blacks- have nowhere else to go. So, the Clintons and their proxies, who are actually race-baiting, but we'll say that they aren't, and tell those Blacks who are informing us as to what they see that it's in their IMAGINATION - well, they'll shut up, go SIT IN THEIR PLACE and turn up in November like they're SUPPOSED TO. '

That's not a bet you want to take.

Black folk don't have to vote for McCain or any GOPer. They can just STAY HOME in several critical states, and the GOP wins. Thinking that you can scare folk with the GOP Bogeyman after you've been disrespecting Black folk, is both offensive and disrespectful.


James Brown said it:
We'd rather die on our feet
Than be livin' on our knees



I am part of the Hip-Hop generation, and those of us who are Post Civil-Rights have learned our lessons well. We learned to hear the Dogwhistle of Racial Politics; our parents taught us that for SURVIVAL, but what they afforded us that they didn't have, was the option of getting off of our knees.

1 comment:

The Angry Independent said...

Good points about how an Obama win in SC is being framed by the blogs and by the pundits. Everytime he does something well, it seems to be written off as some sort of anomaly...as if it is somehow not a legitimate win.

The media wants Billary to win so bad... that they are trying to help by shrinking Obama. The Clinton camp has also been successful at re-framing Obama as "The Black Guy" as if to say...that he will have a Black agenda. He is no longer the candidate who happens to be Black. Through surrogates, she has taken Obama off of his "Hope" message, and she has made race an issue (which it was going to be anyway...but she highlighted it in a way that made it worse). She also stole his "change" platform right after she lost in Iowa. The next day..."change" all of a sudden became her main theme...when it wasn't before.

But I can't help but think that it's all being set up so that SC will be Obama's last stand. I was going to do a separate post on that...called "Hope Meets Reality" but I have too much on my plate. But it might be over for him... not because he's not good enough or not qualified...but because of the way that the Primaries are set up...with Feb. 5th being so close...and because of Super Delegates, etc. Billary's coronation is near.
And i've always said that it was probably going to be a coronation for her.

I have been looking at the Feb. 5th States...and Billary is leading the opinion polls in all but a small few. It would take a miracle for Obama to come back from the kind of deficits that I see in most of these States.

The end of the road for Obama? I will wait and see. But it doesn't look particularly good for him after SC.