Friday, September 26, 2008

Fighting racism and the Obama campaign

By John Bachtell

The article below, which is getting a lot of attention, reveals the impact of the influences of racism in the 2008 election campaign on voters.

Racial views steer some whites away from Obama

But there are some key missing elements as well:

1. In addition to the voter suppression (to which there is a growing counter movement), the McCain - Rove right wing extremists and the right wing hate talk shows are exploiting racism and fear as core elements of the campaign, blatantly and subtly in other ways. One need only look at the despicable text messages, the whisper campaign against Obama that he is a Muslim (and if he were, who cares?) - 30% of voters believe this to be true (according to the excellent piece by Kristoff in the NY Times). But more importantly, it's a proxy to push racist hate.

And the recent lying ad visually linking Obama with the former Fannie Mae director Franklin Raines, also African American are aimed at scaring whites about who will be handling the economy in crisis. In Michigan advertisements are being used to associate Obama with the ex-Mayor of Detroit Kwame Kilpatrick. Reminiscent of the Willie Horton ad?

2. It is widely seen, as Rep. John Lewis put it, that the election of Obama is an extension of the Civil Rights movement. This is one of those great opportunities to strike a blow against racism, and for advancing social equality.

One of the things the poll doesn't refer to and something we're all well aware of is the Democratic Party presidential candidates have not won a majority of the white vote since 1964 (after which the "Southern Strategy" was employed). Some other polls indicate Obama is doing no worse among white voters than Kerry did. So that should give confidence there is a basis upon which to carry on this struggle.

As well as the fact that there is an unprecedented movement against the racist tactics of the McCain/ultra right campaign. Take the example of the labor movement, which is confronting it and the lies head on, beginning with the incredible speech by AFL-CIO secretary treasurer Richard Trumka to the USWA convention (since repeated elsewhere and duplicated by many other white trade union leaders at a state and local level). They have an organized approach to take this discussion to the entire membership, especially in the battleground states, to confront workers influenced by racism to put it aside and not vote against their class self interests. 10s of thousands of white, African American and Latino trade unionists are marching together into the battle ground states.

The following are well worth checking out:

Trumka on racism and electing Obama

Ohio labor: Obama will be a great president

Unions tackle race issue

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