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

 

 

More articles by:

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

February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Winning Hearts and Minds
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail