Colin Powell endorsed Barak Obama because he (either/both) is/are black! That’s the argument some are using to rationalize, for themselves at least, why Powell, a republican, would endorse democrat, Barak Obama. One assumes they are using the same argument to explain why Joe Biden is backing John McCain. Because he (either/both) is/are white, I presume?
I am not inside Colin Powell’s head. He may have felt he needed to support a brother. That’s the “black” of it. He may also believe, as he said, that Obama is better able to lead the nation at this particular time, than John McCain. That is the “white” of it. Many millions of Americans believe that, too, and so does the rest of the world! It may be, even, that Powell feels a little of both. That is the “grey” of it.
I can’t argue where Colin Powell is coming from. But there are some arguments that I can make, I hope.
Let us harken back to the days when most blacks lived in the South, and were largely prevented from voting at all. In 1936, Franklin Roosevelt got 71-percent of the black vote. Let me say that again. A white president, Roosevelt, got 71 percent of the black vote! Apparently blacks didn’t run away from him because HE WAS WHITE. No, they voted…and kept on voting for Roosevelt in the next two elections. That year, no whites voted for a black man. Is there somebody, historian or not, who is willing to suggest that if a black man had indeed run for president, whites would have voted for him?
Harry Truman got 77-percent of the black vote in 1948. Blacks voted for Truman. He issued an order desegregating the armed services and an executive order setting up regulations against racial bias in federal employment. Blacks didn’t say “well he did us good, but he’s white, so chile, we shouldn’t vote for him, no way ”. Uh-uh. They voted for a white candidate. Again, that year, no whites voted for a black man. Nor did any blacks vote for a black man. And so it continued…
Dwight D. Eisenhower got 39 percent of the black vote in 1956. Richard Nixon lost narrowly to John F. Kennedy in 1960. But he got 32-percent of the black vote.
President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed through the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 (outlawing segregation in public places) and his eventual Republican opponent, Sen. Barry Goldwater, opposed it. Johnson, a white candidate, got 94-percent of the black vote that year. It’s still a record for any presidential election!
As far as I know JFK, Lyndon Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and both Bushes were/are all white. Yes? I never once heard pollsters report that blacks in Virginia or Kentucky or New York or Florida responded that they wouldn’t vote for any of these presidents, because they were not black. I have however heard this being said concerning Obama, with reference being made to the “Bradley Factor.” I have never heard of any similar factor in play, when any of the above presidents were running for office.
I’ve come to the conclusion that blacks are very sophisticated, sane and savvy political beings who have historically voted, not based on skin color, since they voted for whites for more than a hundred years, (there was nothing preventing them from staying home and refusing to vote) but in self-interest. They vote for those who they see will advance their cause. Clinton. Johnson. Roosevelt.
Therefore, I think it is disingenuously audacious for some people to dump their baggage on blacks and imply that blacks are voting for Obama because he is black. Powell is supporting Obama because he’s black! Blacks would support a KKK candidate like David Duke, if he was black. Supposing Obama was running against Condoleezza Rice. Would blacks have to vote for Rice, because she’s blacker? (According to me!)
Have you heard black republicans say they won’t vote for McCain because he is white? Please let me know..? Or are they really secretly planning on voting for Obama anyway, “because he’s black?” Then let’s commend their brotherhoodness, and channel this synergy into new directions. Rich blacks, we need you in the ghettos helping poor blacks. This Brimming Brotherhood of Blackness (or African-Americanness) should be available year round!
Blacks have also consistently voted for white senators, representatives, mayors and governors. Not a one groused (at least, not to the press!) that the reason all these politicians consistently got so many white votes were simply because they/either/all were white.
Blacks are smart enough to realize that there have been instances where whites looked at both sides and decided that they preferred the black candidate to the white candidate. And if we are confident in the ability of whites to make that judgment, then so should we be in the ability of blacks to make a similar judgment. Otherwise, we are buying into the cynicism of John McCain.
Black voters can look at many candidates and say, “that Jesse Jackson…I don’t think so. I will go with the white guy” (Dukakis/Mondale). Blacks similarly think that whites can also say “that John McCain, I don’t think so, I prefer the other guy — black, pink, green or yellow“.
So enough of these racist arguments! Otherwise, the discourse begs more questions. Did the four past Secretaries of State (whom McCain says endorsed him) only do so because he/they/either/all…are white? Could it also be that they simply like McCain’s message more than they like Obama’s? Or is it a little of both?