President Obama has accomplished a great deal during his four years in office. He passed the Lily Ledbetter Act so that women can fight back against pay discrimination. He pushed for health care reform which he was able to sign into law. He called for an end to the war in Iraq and set a definitive timeline for when we can pull our troops from Afghanistan. He has pushed for the DREAM act to protect law-abiding immigrants, many who were brought here as children, from being sent away to a foreign country they do not know. He helped cut waste, culled and cut programs that were not needed. He lifted the ban on stem cell research. He pushed for investments in clean energy. His stimulus package pulled us back from the brink of some sort of hell we will now never know. I was rather curious about eco-mageddon but it was a good move. Many homeowners kept their homes and the market is improving as buyers look to make new purchases. He got Bin Laden. He has risked his political career in championing the cause of the LGBT crowd, much to the chagrin of his ultra-religious and intolerant constituents. A biracial man raised by a loving white family, he has given his all, an idealist in a grey world where change is as terrifying to some as a leap from 22 miles above ground, near space.
So why it is possible President Obama may lose his bid for re-election? It’s simple: racism. Socialist is the new ‘n’ word. Fear and disenchantment is rampant, unfounded and left unchecked as many conservatives struggle with the existence of a non-white commander-in-chief. If Obama were a white man from Montana with the winning smile, a boatload of charisma and the same record to run on, he would be dominating in the polls. He would be heralded as an American hero, fearless and stoic in the face of opposition. At the time of this writing, the President is in a virtual tie with Mitt Romney, a man whose questionable past leaves many Democrats aghast at the thought of him winning and at just how close he is to doing just that.
We have seen and heard many things these past four years. Pictures surfaced all over the internet of Michelle Obama’s features, contorted to resemble those of an orangutan. Bumper sticks that read ‘Don’t re-nig in 2012’. That’s a good one. Then there’s that pesky birther movement that has not lost its fervor even without a shred of proof disputing President Obama’s birthplace. The rise of the tea party brought forth some of the ugliest behavior many have had the displeasure of bearing witness to as they wobble forward belching demands, threatening to ‘shut America down’ if they don’t get their way. The level of vitriol and disrespect forwarded President Obama’s way is unprecedented– even Bill Clinton seemed in awe when speaking about it at this year’s DNC. Tagg Romney, exerting his executive white privilege, goes on a radio station to openly state his wish to take a swing at the president after last week’s debate. The Republican campaign trail is littered with sentences that contain keywords like ‘Kenyan’ ‘foreign’ ‘socialist’ or ‘Muslim’, by design issued to stoke unrest against a sitting President.
Don’t try to make sense of it all. It is, what it is. It is ugly, it is depressing but we have to face the truth. America was not ready. The fear of a black President is real– ignorance has misguided the minds and actions of the population for centuries. We fear what we do not understand and are easily duped when falsehoods are uttered as gospel while massaging inherent, bigoted viewpoints. President Obama has beaten the stereotypes that suffocate black Americans and that alone is a bitter pill to swallow for many conservatives. So they do their very absolute best to cast him in the worst possible light.
Liberals have somewhat failed to hold up our end of the bargain in this fight. We have whinged.. We have wavered at the slightest sign of trouble and allowed our frustration to take root. The obstacle course that is Congress has willfully impeded Obama along the way and our modest show of support pales next to the enthusiasm of ’08. We want the troops out of Afghanistan and peace in the middle-east. We want gay rights. Some of us don’t want gay marriage. We want mass reform. We want more regulations. We want manna from the skies. However loved he is, we simply want it all, we want it now and are unforgiving at times.
All across the globe, away from home, Obama’s approval rating soars and rightfully so. Public view of the US has risen favorably since he took the oath of office. I imagine foreigners may find his kind brown face comforting, a symbol of real change and equality in a world gripped by a white authority. Yet…he might lose. He may lose to the guy who had his databases wiped; documents shredded upon leaving Massachusetts. He may lose to the man who flip-flops like a goldfish out of water when it comes to his political ideology. He is the man that makes Rachel Maddow want to scream. He is the presidential-candidate that refuses to release more of his tax returns because as his lovely wife stated, they might be used as ammunition. And that would be unfair, correct? Why should Americans know exactly how our potential President earned his wealth and at whose expense? None of that matters for Romney’s base except for one thing: he’s not black.