Andrew Jolivette, author of Obama and the Biracial Factor: The Battle for a New American Majority looks at the ideological battle that is at stake in the current US election campaign:
The battle for a new American political and ideological majority continues in 2012. The upcoming election for President of the United States is opening a floodgate of rhetoric laced with divisive political campaigns, racial bigotry, and a call for a politics of hope rather then despair. On Tuesday January 24th, 2012 in his third state of the union address, President Obama in response to critics and in conversation with U.S. voters presented a vision that will unite Americans, he presented the same message as he did in 2008—a message of hope!
Obama and the Biracial Factor, published today, argues that Mr. Obama was able to build a diverse coalition of supporters that represents the changing demographic and ideological diversity of the United States. The project and contributors ask if President Obama will be able to maintain this new political coalition by using an ideology of inclusion. A primary assertion in the book is that his biracial background equips him with a treasure chest of lived experiences that allow him to speak to many different people. Over the past three years the Obama administration has faced an onslaught of obstructionism and underlying rhetoric from he is “not one of us” to “he is a European socialist”. The current election campaign is a clear indication of the ideological battle that is at stake. On the republican side, consider the following recent comments and incidents:
Newt Gingrich has called Obama the “greatest food stamp” President in U.S. history.
The Lawrence Journal-World was sent an email that Mike O’Neal, speaker of Kansas’ House of Representatives forwarded to House Republicans that referred to President Obama and a Bible verse that says “Let his days be few” and calls for his children to be without a father and his wife to be widowed.
Republican Governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer was recently photographed pointing her finger directly into the face of President Obama when he arrived at the Arizona airport
Mitt Romney has said the President’s call for the “Buffet Rule” (a policy that would require millionaires to pay the same tax rate as their secretaries, 30% instead of the 15% they currently pay) is about a “politics of envy” and class division.
The irony of these assaults on President Obama and his agenda to level the playing field for middle class Americans is that the Republican primary has dramatically impacted GOP frontrunner Mr. Romney whose negative rating among independent voters went from 22% viewing him in a negative or somewhat negative light in November to a 42% negative or somewhat negative view of him in the latest polls. Obama who was down 13% points to Romney in November among independent voters, now leads Romney by 8% points in new polls. This is due in part to what we argue in Obama and the Biracial Factor, America is seeking a new ideology that unifies people rather then dividing them.
As the 2012 re-election campaign begins for Mr. Obama it is important to take note of his comments to the American people in the state of the union address last week. They are a stark contrast to conservative attacks that call for him to “get the hell out of the country” as Rep Allen West (R) from Florida said in comments to the media in recent days. Calling again upon his biracial background as a source for talking about what brings different people together, Obama, in contrast to both Romney and Gingrich, made himself look more presidential when he said to congress and the American people that:
“Those of us who’ve been sent here to serve can learn a thing or two from the service of our troops. When you put on that uniform, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white; Asian, Latino, Native American; conservative, liberal; rich, poor; gay, straight. When you’re marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails. When you’re in the thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one nation, leaving no one behind…Each time I look at that flag, I’m reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those 50 stars and those 13 stripes. No one built this country on their own. This nation is great because we built it together. This nation is great because we worked as a team. This nation is great because we get each other’s backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long as we are joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, and our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.”
Obama and the Biracial Factor: The Battle for a New American Majority, published 1 February, can now be purchased at 20% discount from the Policy Press website.