(Written in January, 2008) “The way I understand this country, a summary of what I have seen of it, Barack Obama may be led to the Democratic nomination by the wishes of the people to see themselves differently, as better than they are, but will never be elected to the presidency because we are not. Savvy Republicans are pushing his candidacy for this very reason. Shelby Steele, I believe, is exactly right that Obama will not be elected. Steele is looking at the behavior of the person, whether he or she is a bargainer using race or is a challenger of racial possibility. It is his view that Obama cannot tell us who he is because he is a bargainer and it is the nature of this style that it cannot disclose its true designs and values.
“When I add Steele’s evaluation to mine, my sense of what is going to happen in this next election is supported. Obama is being so successful because he is being supported by the liberal side of the society from its desire to be better (along with its regular hopes for the future) and from the conservative side cynically to set up an easier target for the general election. Steele is suggesting that Obama will, in the election, be stripped of his protective bargaining surface and he will be left there as a black man trying to enter a world unready for and untrusting of him. The conservatives are counting on residual racial fear to give them an immediate 50% head start.
“McCain and Romney both can win over Obama with a carefully crafted racially based campaign, even without cheating, and there will certainly be as much cheating as the Republicans can arrange. The Democrats seemed a few months ago to have complete control of the next general election, but have used this moment to present two candidates that weaken that possibility back to even or worse odds. The strongest candidates to face off with the potential Republicans have been excluded from the process: the liberal society has been hungry to be better than they are and moved to those who give them that chance rather than selecting for competence and perhaps appearing to be acting against racial and feminist interests.”
As I look back at the above thoughts, they still seem correct. Obama is deeper, wider and faster than I realized in January; he is working to win with great skill. The Republican machine is so confident of its theory of the election that it has gotten right down to attacking, lying and falsely associating right out of the box.
I don’t think that I have ever seen two more disconnected presidential campaigns: Obama is trying to present a version of the issues that is friendly to him, but still the issues that will actually affect the present and future lives of US and world peoples. McCain is offering an attack on Obama using every form of fear thought to exist in the electorate.
Obama is among the brightest, though I do not believe among the best. McCain is a Republican functionary who for all his bluster has not a clue. The Republican machine has been, since Reagan, eating at the essential guts of our ("we have a) republic;" another 4 years and they will have secured all the levers of power, and we will be one no more. We can only hope that the American electorate shows enough depth to ("if you can) keep it."