“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position.” – Geraldine Ferraro, Daily Breeze, March 7, 2008.
One thing that I must say about the Republican Party is that their collective contempt for the black community is worn on their sleeve. Relatively speaking this contempt is held in the open for all to see. In the eyes of the typical Republican Party member the black community is not entitled to any special treatment from its government. A Republican President would rather spend a half trillion dollars and four thousand American lives in a battle of ideology to help the people in a country on the other side of the world than spend a dime building schools specifically for the black community. A Republican in the White House would rather give a corporate entity like Blackwater or Halliburton special treatment in the form of “no bid” federal contracts worth tens of billions of dollars and handsomely uplifting the profits of these companies during a time of war before they would help people in the black community during times of peace. A Republican controlled American government would rather give tax cuts worth more than four trillion dollars to billionaires and millionaires before they would give a black family the opportunity to apply for health insurance for their children. The Republican Party makes no attempt to appear to be a friend of the black community.
On the other hand the Democratic Party heavily depends on the black community for its political support. As far as I’ve been alive the Democratic Party has always made the appeal for black votes a priority in their political strategy. Ever since President John Fitzgerald Kennedy made the phone call to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he was jailed for the peaceful protest of separate but equal facilities for the members of the black community, the Democratic Party has given the black people an impression that it is sympathetic to the needs of the black community. Most assumed leaders of the black community affiliate themselves with the Democratic Party. Most black people will call themselves Democrats. It is a given. But although it is a given that Democrats are more likely to support institutions and policies that are more beneficial to the average Joe in the black community, this by no means should be interpreted to mean Democratic leaders see black people as equal social contemporaries.
Ask a white Democratic United States Senator what positive impression does he have of his black counterpart and one is likely to hear one line compliments that he is clean or articulate. Ask the same question about a white counterpart and you will be more likely to hear a much more in depth analysis of their character, ideas, values, beliefs, and policies. The implication is that the black politician has nothing to offer but their personality and their ability to pronounce words unlike the typical black person. Ask a former President of the United States about a black politician that is well on his way to becoming the Democratic nominee for President of the United States and the former President wants to dismiss the black man’s success as the prelude to the failure of the typical black candidate. Yes Jessie Jackson may have failed in his attempt to be President twenty years ago. But Barack Obama is no Jessie Jackson and vice versa.
The latest example of evidence for this much more subtle form of black community contempt can be found in the comment from Vice Presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro. Like a lot of people, Ms. Ferraro contends that the only reason the public is infatuated with Barack Obama is because of the color of his skin. She explicitly says that if Mr. Obama was not black he would not be the leading contender in the Democratic nomination primaries. Her implication is that Mr. Obama is bereft of new ideas and unqualified to be considered the best person in the race to lead this country. Ms. Ferraro is actually trying to imply that the only reason Mr. Obama is in the position he is in, kicking Senator Clinton’s ass in the delegate race, is because of some public form of political affirmative action. Interestingly, Ms. Ferraro does not make the assumption that the only reason Ms. Clinton is in her position is that she is a woman. It is only the racial factor that catches her attention.
There is little doubt that Ms. Ferraro finds no pleasure in all the claims that she was Walter “Fritz” Mondale’s Vice Presidential running mate only because she was a female. Mr. Mondale needed a gender counter to the fact that President Ronald Reagan scored political points with women when he had appointed Sandra Day O’Connor as the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court. So there is plenty of circumstantial evidence to support this hypothesis. Ms. Ferraro probably bristled at every reference to the Mondale-Ferraro political ticket as “Fritz and Tits”. But now this leader of the Democratic Party wants to disparage the black candidate as nothing more than an unqualified black man taking advantage of his skin color. Actually, Ms. Ferraro has it backwards. Black people have not been the President of the United States because of the color of our skin. It is not an advantage. However, like a lot of white people when they see a black person as the best candidate for the job, Ms. Ferraro dismisses the black candidate’s accomplishments as nothing more than happenstance based on some popular myth that black people have it easier than white people. If it was so easy for black people to become President then Jessie Jackson, Barbara Jordan, Shirley Chisholm, and Alan Keyes would have done so a long time ago.
Ms. Ferraro’s comment should do nothing to diminish Mr. Obama’s accomplishments. It was a racist remark filled with racial resentment from a racist woman who is now out of the racist closet. The comment did nothing to help Senator Clinton in her campaign for the White House. The comment does nothing for the Democratic Party in its bid to look like a unified body in its bid for a return to the White House. The comment does nothing for anybody else for that matter. The only possible exception of people who would benefit from this comment would be the other racist people who gain credence and support in their effort to minimize the successes of Mr. Obama because of the color of his skin. The comment is just the latest reminder of the contempt some influential Democratic Party leaders have of their black supporters. Another white person who is not only playing the race card but a racial royal flush.