the clinton’s quandary (race in ’08)

Bill and Hillary Clinton are finding themselves in a political position that they have not encountered before:  They are battling to win the hearts, minds, and votes of African Americans.  Before now, the Black vote was considered a given.  Because of the overwhelming support the Clinton’s have enjoyed amongst Black people in the past, it is understandable that Clinton campaign advisors and policy-makers have taken the Black vote for granted.  In 2008 though, Barack Obama’s candidacy is complicating the Clinton’s chances (and I use the plural when referring to Hillary since Bill has made himself very prominent on the campaign trail) of snatching a nice sized voting bloc without the expenditure of massive campaign resources.

The Clinton’s popularity amongst Black Americans stems not from his political policy (which in most part revealed a Democrat trying very hard to appeal to Republican voters, what are termed “NASCAR dads” and “soccer/security moms”, i.e., conservative whites), but because he has always seemed comfortable in the presence of Black company.  Writer Toni Morrison and even the CBC referred to him as the nation’s “first Black president” despite his abyssmal record on Black issues (let’s not forget that one of Clinton’s earliest political situations involved a decision to return Haitian asylum-seekers who had fled their country).  The Clinton’s are now, for the first time, faced with a tough adversary who may upset their firm hold on the hearts of African Americans, and the Clintons are not handling the prospect very well.

Both Clinton’s have already had slip-ups amongst the Black electorate in the ’08 election cycle.  Bill’s “fairy tale” statement (which upon further inspection seems to have been erroneously taken to mean Obama’s candidacy itself is a “fairy tale”) and Hillary’s statement which seemed to diminish MLK’s role in winning civil rights legislation in the 60’s both have rubbed the Black electorate the wrong way.  The Clinton’s are finding themselves having to defend themselves from charges of racial insensitivity and seem to be struggling with the fact that there is now a “Blacker” candidate running for president who’ll upset their lock on the Black electorate.

The Clinton’s would do well to consult Black political analysts at this point when they are in such a tight race with Barack Obama.  Left without proper consul, they are sure to make more racial snafus (real or perceived) while on the campaign trail as their frustration with Obama and Black people grows.

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~ by free71 on January 13, 2008.

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