Opinion: Voter racism is hard to prove

November 2, 2012


On MSNBC’s Ed Schultz program last Friday, the former chief of staff for Colin Powell, retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, said, of the Republican Party, “My party is full of racists ... and the real reason a considerable portion of my party wants President Obama out of the White House has nothing to do with the content of his character, nothing to do with his competence as commander in chief and president, and everything to do with the color of his skin ... that’s despicable.”

Wilkerson’s allegation followed his former boss’s endorsement of President Obama for a second term. The history of racism has certainly stained both parties and there are racist Democrats and racist Republicans, but when the race card is played this close to the election, I suspect the pro-Obama forces are sensing trouble.

We’ve come a long way in four years, from a transracial candidate who didn’t see a white or black America, but one America, to one in which if a white person votes for Mitt Romney that is evidence the voter is a racist. Suppose that white person voted for Obama four years ago and thinks the president doesn’t deserve a second term because he’s done a poor job? Was the person not a racist in 2008, but morphed into one in 2012?

When white liberals voted against the confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas (including then-Sen. Joe Biden) were they racist? Many white liberal Democrats are working overtime to defeat Rep. Allen West, Florida Republican. Are they racist?

Let’s reverse the polarity. According to a recent NBC/WSJ poll, 90 percent of African-Americans are expected to vote for the president. For those who will do so solely to demonstrate racial solidarity, does this qualify them to be inducted into the racist hall of shame? And what about conservative blacks who are voting for Romney? They’re called disparaging names by some blacks. Is that racism?

Mia Love, the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, is running for Congress. She is an African-American woman and a Republican. If white Democrats oppose her, are they guilty of a twofer: racism and sexism?

While I didn’t vote for Barack Obama in 2008 (and won’t this time) because of his extreme liberalism, not his skin color, I was still proud of my country for electing the first African-American president. If a qualified conservative African-American had been running, I would have voted for him (or her). That fulfills the wish of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that all people be judged on their character, not their skin color.

I endorsed the nonviolent protests of Dr. King to advance civil rights, but opposed the incendiary rhetoric of Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, the Black Panther Party and other black revolutionaries of the 1960s. Was I not a racist when I supported Dr. King, but racist when I opposed black radicals? How does one judge such things? Where’s the racist detector and who gets to operate it?

A Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll concluded that “The 2012 election is shaping up to be more polarized along racial lines than any presidential contest since 1988, with President Obama experiencing a steep drop in support among white voters from four years ago.”

The Post-ABC News pollsters, who appear to see so much through racially colored glasses, might have asked some of those white voters who supported President Obama four years ago why they are supporting Mitt Romney now. I would be willing to wager most, if not all, would say the president’s performance has not lived up to their expectations or his hype about hope and change.

For supporters of President Obama, including Republican-in-name-only Lawrence Wilkerson, to suggest that Republicans want him out of the White House simply because he’s black, is a desperate attempt by a faltering campaign to change the subject from the president’s record and lack of vision for the future.

That isn’t racist. That’s fact.

—Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.


Paul R Getto 5 years, 7 months ago

"faltering campaign"

LOL. Wishful thinking. Mr. Romney is caught up in the Red State strategy. Hard to make the 270 that way.

dabbindan 5 years, 7 months ago

it's not only hard to prove, it's nearly impossible unless the racist just comes out and admits it.

however...there is often just no other way to account for the irrational attitudes that some people insist on holding. antichrist! arrogant! not a citizen! obama's a racist himself! and on and on.
not that every person opposed to obama is automatically racist, of course not, but the sheer irrational persistence of certain negative beliefs in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary shows a presence of overt or subconscious racism.

jafs 5 years, 7 months ago


And, no.

Racism is the belief that one race is superior to another.

Kathy Theis-Getto 5 years, 7 months ago

Saying racism has nothing to do with it is just as assinine as saying racism has everything to do with it.

Liberty275 5 years, 7 months ago

It is nobody else's business why a person votes the way they do.

beatrice 5 years, 7 months ago

Cal: "...if a white person votes for Mitt Romney that is evidence the voter is a racist."

The problem with this column is that it is based on a false premise. Cal offers nothing at all to support the notion that people think a vote for Romney means someone is a racist. Nor does it go against the notion that there actually are racists who will vote against Obama just because of the color of his skin.

This is another case of someone calling racists on their racism, but somehow others use this to make the flase claim that the charge of racism is used whenever someone is critical of Obama. This is not at all true, but it is used as a preventive tactic against those who are critical of Obama's critics. There are racists and there are people who will vote against Obama, but the two are not equal and no rational person has ever made that claim.

John Hamm 5 years, 7 months ago

Oh Beatrice I'm so sorry but you are wrong. If you're not voting for BO you're racist. Been called that more than once as have other whites and blacks who have expressed a concern for his extreme Liberal views and performance, or lack thereof, in office.

beatrice 5 years, 7 months ago

I can't help but note that only you and Cal Thomas are the ones saying that if you are not voting for President Obama you are racist. Those voting for Obama are not the ones making that claim. LIke the "liberal media," this line of defense of being called racists just for supporting someone is a victimhood fantasy among conservatives.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 7 months ago

Voting for a candidate because of race isn't much different than voting against a candidate because of race.

beatrice 5 years, 7 months ago

Actually, there is a big difference, especially when we are discussing the reality of an oppressed group that had never before been allowed to see someone from their group allowed to truly participate.

What do you think the percentage of Mormons voting for Romney will be? Think it will be out of religious hatred for non-mormon Christians?

Liberty275 5 years, 7 months ago

" the reality of an oppressed group that had never before been allowed to see someone from their group allowed to truly participate. "

People voted for Obama because his policies are friendly to the poor and oppressed at the expense of people that have some amount of wealth. Obama didn't get votes because he was ever part of an oppressed group.

You are saying a group of people voted in a certain way because the color of their skin matched a candidates. That's a little bigoted, don't you think?

beatrice 5 years, 7 months ago

You totally misrepresent why people voted for Obama. It had nothing to do with being friendly to the poor at the expense of the wealthy. You just made that up.

Yes, people have voted for people because of the color of their skin. And their gender. How else do you explain 43 prior presidents who were Anglo-Americans and male? Or are you saying that bigotry in voting only started when #44 came along?

Will Mormons who vote for Romney being voting for him because they are bigoted?

Liberty275 5 years, 7 months ago

" It had nothing to do with being friendly to the poor at the expense of the wealthy."

I watch it sort of close. He has a strong tendency towards redistribution and has told us so in plain words on many occasions. He want's to take from the wealthy to give to the poor. The poor hear that and that is what they vote for.

You can point out all the bigots in the world with a nice list of their reasons. I'm sure you have a nice list if reasons too.

"Will Mormons who vote for Romney being voting for him because they are bigoted?"

Bad question. I'll pose it differently: "Will atheists vote for John Q. NoGod because they are bigoted?"

Maybe, if he's a libertarian or at least leans libertarian.

John Hamm 5 years, 7 months ago

No, sorry, voting for a candidate based upon his race is bigoted, saying someone votes for them isn't bigoted.

702Hawk 5 years, 7 months ago

Is it just me or does hearing some one say, " I was still proud of my country for electing the first African-American president." sound racist? Just like when Pelosi was selected as the Speaker of the House and they had parades for her because she was the first woman seemed sexist. If people didn't care what a persons skin color was or what their sex is they wouldn't need to make those comments. I am proud of my country for being able to accept a major change politically without violence but somewhat ashamed of both sides that they have to make such a big deal of the guys skin color.

beatrice 5 years, 7 months ago

When someone does break a barrier -- nationality, gender, sexual orientation, etc... -- it is something to celebrate because it is a step forward and toward that moment when it won't be a big deal. Today, it is still a big deal because various -isms are still part of our society. This is why if Romney is elected, we will hear quite a bit of his being the first Mormon to be President.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 7 months ago

The Republican national ticket is only 25% more Caucasian than Democratic ticket.

cowboy 5 years, 7 months ago

Not hard to prove at all.
I talk a lot of politics and come in contact with a lot of people daily from young to old. The republican voters do not take very long to utter the N word thinking that all white folk would agree with them. Pretty sad that in this day evolution has stopped and most definitely in Kansas.

Blessed4x 5 years, 7 months ago

Bull. I'm staunchly conservative and NONE of my conservative friends would utter this word. They are conservative in their ideals and how they think the country should be run. Nice try, though, to paint conservatives with a broad brush, but the you and I both know you are full of it.

SBrody 5 years, 7 months ago

It's all an obfuscation until people agree on the definition of racism. The National Association of Social Work offers this definition, and it's the best I know of. Racists won't like it though, and will try to explain why it's wrong.

NASW: http://www.naswdc.org/pressroom/events/911/racism.asp

"Racism is the ideology or practice through demonstrated power of perceiving the superiority of one group over others by reason of race, color, ethnicity, or cultural heritage. In the United States and elsewhere, racism is manifested at the individual, group, and institutional levels. It has been institutionalized and maintained through educational, economic, political, religious, social, and cultural policies and activities. It is observable in the prejudiced attitudes, values, myths, beliefs, and practices expressed by many people, including those in positions of power. Racism is functional—that is, it serves a purpose. In U.S. society, racism functions to maintain structural inequities that are to the disadvantage of people of color. ……

"Racism negatively impacts both the oppressed and the oppressor. Institutional racism has historical roots in injustices perpetrated by our ancestors on indigenous and other populations in conquering and populating this country. Recognition of historical injustices is the beginning step in combating racism. One has to acknowledge the fact that the sons and daughters are not responsible for the sins of their parents, but the sons and daughters must analyze the present reality to ascertain if as a result of the historical injustices perpetrated by our parents results in one group in society being in a more advantageous and favorable position over and at the expense of others."

beatrice 5 years, 7 months ago

There are fundamental differences between races?


Please explain some of these differences.

Liberty275 5 years, 7 months ago


I think the period messed it up. It's interesting.

I was told all but the badly deformed humans shared DNA within the margin of error making race impossible to define and therefore non-existent. I could be as genetically different from you as a Japanese man.

Liberty275 5 years, 7 months ago

"There are fundamental differences between races"

Name one.

beatrice 5 years, 7 months ago

It isn't that hard to prove in many cases. The KKK supports Romney. The racism behind their support is obvious. However, you are correct that it isn't against the law to vote according to racist views. Being stupid rarely is illegal.

Armstrong 5 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Armstrong 5 years, 7 months ago

I was unaware bea was so popular in the African Amaerican community.

booyalab 5 years, 7 months ago

I was going to look up your assertion about the KKK supporting Romney, then it hit me - who the f cares what the KKK thinks?

Mike Ford 5 years, 7 months ago

in the last year or two the tea party was against washington regulation... they were against the healthcare bill....they were against a massachusetts moderate republican....in texas the tea party made moderate or republican in name only a slur in primary races there.....there was a minister the aligned with rick perry who called mormanism a cult and not christian in nature.... and yet they let the moderate romney emerge in presidential debates saying all the things the tea party feared romney would say and now they support romney in spite of the previous litmus tests and witchhunt mentality they had when they ran off dick lugar in Indiana. Why has all of this happened one asks??? they hate the current president enough that they will hold their noses and vote for the rino.....not racist at all.... who do you think you're fooling? no one....racism proved.

Kathy Theis-Getto 5 years, 7 months ago

Your disdain for natives has no place here.

Mike Ford 5 years, 7 months ago

actually misinformed american....the tea party that dumped the tea in boston harbor were white people dress as Indians. Even funnier was that they were the beneficiaries of English aid during the French and Indian War of 1755-1763 and when the English wanted the colonists to pay their fair share of the money spent to defend them from French encroachment they revolted because they wanted free stuff like English protection and they didn't want to have to pay for it. What hypocrites some of you are when you don't realize that your won ancestors wanted free stuff like Indian land and African labor. I'll laugh the next time I hear some poster like weiser talking about free stuff. what a hypocrite.

Kathy Theis-Getto 5 years, 7 months ago

Your disdain for natives has no place here.

Mike Ford 5 years, 7 months ago

liberty none wrong as usual and liberty275 saying dumb things for fun and not even realizing when you're getting clowned....hurry up....the gop bubble is waiting for you... oh yeah...275...learn how to spell.....

Flap Doodle 5 years, 7 months ago

I'm amazed that the Department of (Selective) Justice hasn't started charging people with thoughtcrime yet.

beatrice 5 years, 7 months ago

What paradox? It is a strawman argument. The economy has suffered greatly for all people, and it all started to fall apart before Obama took office. Most who are not the top one percent have suffered -- doesn't matter the color of their skin. However, people recognize that Obama kept us from falling into another Depression and that we are now on a slow, but steady upward swing.

Do you really think those who have suffered economically would vote for the guy that says he doesn't care about 47% of the population, which is largely made up of those who are hurting the most? Why would anyone vote for someone who says "I don't care about you"?

Would you vote for someone who said they didn't care about you?

Jim Phillips 5 years, 7 months ago

For those of you who scream "racism" just because someone disagrees with Obama, perhaps you should go back and read what racism is. And while you're at it, go back and re-read your history. If you do, check to see which political party promoted civil right for decades before the 1967 Civil Rights Act. Read about which political party fought against civil rights. Research what President Lyndon Johnson said about the new voting block after passage of that act. Discover which political party advocates making school easier, thereby promoting the dumbing down of America to keep people dependent on the government because they never learned how to solve problems or improve their lot in life. Then tell me exactly how that practice is not promoting economic slavery. Once you do all of that, then I challenge you to prove how I am a racist simply because I don't care for the direction Obama has taken this county.

beatrice 5 years, 7 months ago

Guardian, the only ones screaming racism here are the conservatives. Nobody is making that claim toward anyone here just for disagreeing with Obama or supporting Romney. It is a fantasy of victimhood among some conservatives to continue to make this claim even when it isn't present.

Also, when you look into which political party supported the 1967 Civil Rights Act, please continue to read about how those parties developed since then and what happened to the Democrats, or Dixiecrats, of the South who opposed the Civil Rights Act. You will learn that they are the Republican party of today.

Jim Phillips 5 years, 7 months ago

Well, at least one of us believes that.

beatrice 5 years, 7 months ago

Well, since nobody was calling anyone a racist here just for saying they will vote for Romney, it means you are refusing to face reality.

Or do you not believe that Dixiecrats, like Strom Thurmond, didn't become Republicans?

sharonwagner 5 years, 7 months ago

Cal Thomas claims he won't vote for Pres. Obama because he is an extreme liberal. I think that is a crock! President Obama is more like a moderate Republican which I used to be. Republicans (particularly in Kansas) have moved so far right that it gives new meaning to "conservative." They are about making money, they do not wish to conserve our environment, and they want to over-populate the planet with disabled or unwanted babies. They deny that over-population and environmental destruction (global warming) are damaging our society and earth. They are mean spirited toward anyone who doesn't share their anger about gays, a woman's right to choose, and their dislike of President Obama. They are all about less government, until they need a policeman, fireman, nurse, teacher, or help because of a disaster.

I'm happy that I moved to Colorado where people care about wellness, protecting our beautiful environment and especially because - here my vote will count.

Mike Ford 5 years, 7 months ago

gee...I thought it was the 1965 Civil Rights Act....conservatives know their history... not.....and beyond that this act is what helped Democrats run off the racists from our party only to be recruited by George Wallace who courted the angry white male voting block along with the southern strategy to create archie bunkers who followed reagan and rush limbaugh......cleanse the hateful language of the 1960's with help from lee atwater and code language now and tell me the difference....none.

booyalab 5 years, 7 months ago

The amount of racists in the GOP is matched only by the amount in the DFL.

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