On MSNBC’s Ed Schultz program Friday night, the former chief of staff for Colin Powell, retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, said of the Republican Party: “My party is full of racists, and the real reason a considerable portion of my party wants President Obama out of the White House has nothing to do with the content of his character, nothing to do with his competence as commander in chief and president, and everything to do with the color of his skin. And that’s despicable.”
Wilkerson’s allegation followed his former boss’s endorsement of the president for a second term.
The history of racism has certainly stained both parties, and there are racist Democrats and racist Republicans. But when the race card is played this close to the election, I suspect the pro-Obama forces are sensing trouble.
We’ve come a long way in four years, from a transracial candidate who didn’t see a white or black America, but one America, to an election in which if a white person votes for Mitt Romney, that is evidence the voter is a racist. Suppose that white person voted for Obama four years ago and thinks the president doesn’t deserve a second term because he’s done a poor job? Was the person not a racist in 2008, but morphed into one in 2012?
When white liberals voted against the confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas (including then-Sen. Joe Biden), were they racist? Many white liberal Democrats are working overtime to defeat Rep. Allen West, R-Fla. Are they racist?
Let’s reverse the polarity. According to a recent NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll, 90 percent of African-Americans are expected to vote for the president. For those who will do so solely to demonstrate racial solidarity, does this qualify them to be inducted into the racist hall of shame? And what about conservative blacks who are voting for Romney? They’re called disparaging names by some blacks. Is that racism?
While I didn’t vote for Obama in 2008 (and won’t this time) because of his extreme liberalism, not his skin color, I was still proud of my country for electing the first African-American president. If a qualified conservative African-American had been running, I would have voted for him (or her). That fulfills the wish of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that all people be judged on their character, not their skin color.
A Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll concluded that “the 2012 election is shaping up to be more polarized along racial lines than any presidential contest since 1988, with President Obama experiencing a steep drop in support among white voters from four years ago.”
The Post-ABC News pollsters, who appear to see so much through racially colored glasses, might have asked some of those white voters who supported Obama four years ago why they are supporting Romney now. I would be willing to wager that most, if not all, would say the president’s performance has not lived up to their expectations or his hype about hope and change.
For some supporters of Obama, including Wilkerson, to suggest that many Republicans want him out of the White House simply because he is black is a desperate attempt to change the subject from the president’s record and lack of vision for the future.
That isn’t racist. That’s fact.