FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama and Race Management

by SETH SANDRONSKY

Is President Obama left, center or right? To some of his opponents he is a leftist. But wait. The actual president widens the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Further, he watches the withering of the Employee Free Choice Act to help workers form labor unions.

Oh, and the Republican Party eyes how to get its legs after a Democratic thumping last November. I understand that.

Meanwhile, the GOP critique of Obama centers on his health-insurance reform proposal as a strategy to take over (white) America. Voices of the Republican Party’s fringe, such as Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, lead this fiery assault on the president.

Thus Obama hates white people and lacks U.S. citizenship. Further, he is a communist and socialist. His health-insurance reform will euthanize seniors and take away the freedom of citizens to choose their doctors.

In the actual world, some Americans rallying to such anti-Obama messages are white. Nonwhites are nowhere to be seen. Meanwhile, the US working class is losing ground. Together, their living standards, health care, wages and wealth are in decline, according to a recent Census Bureau report.

In sum, the same white Americans not opposing Obama for his actual foreign and domestic policies are losing out to whites in the U.S. upper class. To be sure, the latter has intra-class fights. But it unites to rob working people of all backgrounds blind. How? Some of this robbing takes the form of campaign contributors to lobby elected officials to craft favorable bills. These paid for politicians bail out the well-heeled, big banks most obviously. Accordingly, working people bear most of the burden in terms of bankruptcies, foreclosures and job losses, from the deepest and longest downturn since the 1930s.

Beck, Palin and their comrades who mobilize exploited and oppressed white Americans are not unaware of this growing class inequality. Thus this crowd the blame for the big mess currently goes to nonwhites who refuse to play by the rules. Meet the usual suspects in the GOP scapegoat playbook: Latin American and Mexican immigrants, and native-born blacks.

To understand how the U.S. class system perpetuates itself is to come to understand how skin color expresses it. Race and class feed off each other.

Meanwhile, Obama becomes the racial Other, the non-white outsider, to the GOP fringe. He becomes a flashpoint to rally some low-and middle-income whites in unity with upper class whites. Together, they will try to build grass-roots support for the GOP to recapture Congress in 2010 and the White House in 2012.

Recently, former President Jimmy Carter pointed to the white racism at the heart of the Republicans’ critique of Obama as an unqualified occupant of the White House. I am a recovering Democrat since Carter’s presidency, which paved the way for the Reagan counter-revolution of the 1980s. Mr. Carter, much improved in my view as an ex-president, makes a crucial, if partial, point about race. Yes, race matters. The rest of the story is that class also matters.

David R. Roediger is the author of How Race Survived U.S. History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon. He uses the term “race management” to explain the processes by which the upper class “helped to reproduce racial differences over long stretches of U.S. history and to divide workers in ways that compromised labor’s efforts to address either race or class inequalities.” Divide and conquer, then as well as now, is the name of the game for reasons of controlling and dividing working Americans.

Popular movements of the 1930s and 1960s bucked this trend. Such mobilization strengthened the modern welfare state for the American majority, whose income comes from their hourly wages.

Yes of course, the election of Obama represents an historic blow to racism. At the same time, his presidency also reinforces the class injustice of American society during the global economic downturn which is sending destabilizing shockwaves to vast numbers of American households. Look no further than the bailouts to Wall Street in contrast to that for Main Street.

The U.S. upper class with a larger share of wealth than the rest of the populace influences overwhelmingly the political power in Washington, DC. This equation held fast during the two-term presidency of George W. Bush and remains the same under President Obama. The economics and politics of health-care reform under him, with health-care insurers and pharmaceutical companies in firm control of Congress and the White House to maintain the multiple-payer system with patent monopoly drug prices, is proof of that.

Race management marches on.

SETH SANDRONSKY lives and writes in Sacramento. Contact him at ssandronsky@yahoo.com

 

 

Seth Sandronsky is a Sacramento journalist and member of the freelancers unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild. Emailsethsandronsky@gmail.com

More articles by:
May 30, 2016
Ron Jacobs
The State of the Left: Many Movements, Too Many Goals?
James Abourezk
The Intricacies of Language
Porfirio Quintano
Hillary, Honduras, and the Murder of My Friend Berta
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes on ISIS are Reducing Their Cities to Ruins
Uri Avnery
The Center Doesn’t Hold
Raouf Halaby
The Sailors of the USS Liberty: They, Too, Deserve to Be Honored
Rodrigue Tremblay
Barack Obama’s Legacy: What Happened?
Matt Peppe
Just the Facts: The Speech Obama Should Have Given at Hiroshima
Deborah James
Trade Pacts and Deregulation: Latest Leaks Reveal Core Problem with TISA
Michael Donnelly
Still Wavy After All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80
Ralph Nader
The Funny Business of Farm Credit
Paul Craig Roberts
Memorial Day and the Glorification of Past Wars
Colin Todhunter
From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good
Rivera Sun
White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942
Tom H. Hastings
Field Report from the Dick Cheney Hunting Instruction Manual
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail