A nerve was struck during Round 2 of the Democrat debates in Miami, FL when the issue of race was front and center. The prelude to the debate included former Vice-President Joe Biden demonstrating his ability to play well with others by citing his ability to get along with avowed segregationists in his own Party. Biden did his best impression of Donald Trump by refusing to apologize, doubling down by telling Cory Booker he should “know better” in his best “massa” voice.
The topic was bound to come up during the debate. Expectations were that Bernie Sanders would be on the attack but it was Kamala Harris who had Biden wobbly with the one-two punch of addressing how hurtful his comments were and attacking Biden’s position as a Senator opposing school busing ordered by the Federal government. Biden’s excuse could have been delivered by a Klansman when he basically invoked state’s rights, the primary justification for slavery.
These issues are likely to pass after a couple of news cycles but almost every issue influencing voters decisions is tied to race. I’ll concede there are voters who are focused on the issue of abortion where race isn’t part of the equation. Everything else… pretty much race.
Immigration on the Southern border is all about race. The concern is far more about the browning of America than the rule of law. Employers of undocumented immigrants are facing no substantial penalty because it’s understood that workers are required to make America run. The family separation policy would never have been attempted against white immigrants. Trump claims he inherited separation from Obama whose administration separated far fewer children under more humane conditions as a last result. Obama’s immigration policy didn’t have a running death count. Nor did he ban Muslims.
The voters who say their concern is all about the Supreme Court are mostly voting about race. Outside of abortion, the major issues the SCOTUS has dealt with involve race. Pure shame kept the majority of Justices from supporting the racist census question after e-mails came out showing the rationale was to hurt Hispanics and help Republicans. Because everyone knew the Court knew, they ducked the issue and sent it back to a lower court. That didn’t stop them the same day from allowing race-based Gerrymandering and redistricting as long as you pretend the motive is only political. In other words, it’s perfectly acceptable to disenfranchise millions of minorities as long as you don’t admit the real reason.
Public funding for charter schools is very close to a return to segregation, not that it ever completely went away. It used to be if the rich wanted to educate their children in an almost all-white environment, they at least had to pay for it. Now they want the very people they hope to exclude to help pay the freight.
There are millions of immigrants who were brought to America as young children who have never known another home. President Obama initiated the DACA program for “the Dreamers,” but Trump in his racist quest to undo everything Obama tried to end the program. The Supreme Court will take up whether Trump has that right during his next term. I won’t take any bets the court that saw nothing wrong with a Muslim Ban will support DACA.
When we get to the General Election, assuming Trump hasn’t actually shot someone on 5th Ave (the street where he allegedly raped E. Jean Carroll in Bergdorf’s Dept. Store) and is the Republican nominee. We can look forward to him leading chants about “Pocahontas” if Elizabeth Warren is the Democratic nominee. Trump isn’t in the same universe with Warren when it comes to intelligence so he’ll resort to racist taunts. If Kamala Harris is the nominee, the leader of the birther movement will no doubt come up with something to suggest her Jamaican background is suspect? Black Conservative Ali Alexander is already tweeting that Harris isn’t truly black and Russian bots are pumping that theme on Twitter.
Mayor Pete is fighting issues at home in South Bend, IN where a white policeman shot a black man with his body camera suspiciously turned off. His police department is 6% black in a city with a black population of 26%. He said he, “couldn’t get the job done.” There will be questions as to how hard he tried?
It’s hard to say what particular issue involving race will be enough to determine the outcome of the election. Biden entered the race with a large majority of black voters who associate him with former President, Barack Obama. Biden’s announcement video was basically an “I’m with him” statement that included a segment of Obama saying nice things about in. When Kamala Harris had him staggering, he pulled out the Obama card which won’t be enough to get him the nomination. Warren seems to have gotten past attacks on her and her claim of Native American heritage. In full disclosure, my family has always mentioned a Cherokee Indian heritage and while I have no proof, have no reason to doubt it. The one certainty is that 100% of the white supremacist crowd is with Trump. Not saying that all Trump backers are racists, but voting racists are Trump voters.
Joe Biden entered the race with a wide lead in the polls based on the overwhelming support of black voters. Joe thought his civil rights bona fides would protect him from attack from that direction. He may have forgotten his stance on the crime bill which led to an increase in the mass incarceration of black people and his treatment of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. It’s not enough to claim lifetime support of civil rights if not reflected by the record. It will be interesting to watch the ebbs and flows of the election now the debates have begun and primary season nears. The one sure thing is that race will be the issue hiding behind most topics.