There has always been a racial component to politics in this country. Even after the Civil Rights Movement, this racial dynamic was clearly up for display. As time wore on though, and more minorities became involved and elected in politics, that dynamic has shifted from obvious to a more underlying position. Since the election cycle of 2008 that has all changed, and not just in Washington. Ever since Obama was a candidate, that racial dynamic has once again begun to shift from underlying towards obvious. During his campaign, it was widely discussed whether a black man could become president. There were groups of people who would not vote for him simply because he was black.
It continued after the election and still continues with the rise in white supremacy groups. But it is deeper than that. As the mission of the republican party has become to not let him succeed at all cost, the racial dynamic has moved from white supremacy groups to the halls of congress. Even if they will not come out and say it, there has been a racial component to their strategy. The questions of his birth certificate, the outright brashness of calling him a liar, interrupting the state of the union, and more recently the use of “tar baby” are unprecedented attacks on a president. No president in history has faced the same kind of treatment from the halls of congress. The rise of the tea party has not helped that dynamic either. The racial atmosphere that appeared at tea party rallies during the health care debate was troubling. Despite the rise of Herman Cain as a tea party candidate, you cannot deny the racial component to that movement.
Let’s take it one step further. The attack on both a federal and state level on programs that are designed to help the poor, is also ripe with racism. A disproportional amount of people who receive government assistance are minorities, and the disregard our elected officials have towards them is disturbing. It is continues to bleed down to the lower levels of government as well. The North Carolina State Legislature has been attacking policy like the Racial Justice Act, and early childhood for poor and at risk children. If we take one step further, we can look at the Wake County School issue. Regardless of how you feel about busing and socioeconomic diverse schools, the root of why people wanted to policy to change was a new approach to nimbyism. A certain subset of people no longer wanted poor kids to be sent to the schools in their neighborhood. Let them go to school where they live is written all over this, whether they want to admit it or not.
Many people wrongfully thought that the election of Obama pushed America into a post racial society. I would argue that it has done the opposite. That election has had an impact on the racial dynamic of this country, but not for the better. What it has done is moving racism back to the forefront.