(/sites/default/files/uploads/2012/06/racism5.jpg)In 2008, Barack Obama won 95 percent of the black vote. Now, blacks voted in large percentages for Democrats long before that, of course, largely because of Democratic devotion to huge spending on social programs. But Obama’s election was unique.
The black community, however, was also largely anti-same sex marriage. In fact, many commentators suggested that Obama’s presence on the 2008 ballot in California allowed Proposition 8, upholding traditional marriage, to win approval – blacks showed up to vote Obama, and cast their ballots in favor of Proposition 8 at the same time.
Take the black population in Maryland, for example. Just a few weeks ago, 56 percent of Maryland black voters were getting ready to cast their ballot against a referendum granting approval to same-sex marriage. Only 39 percent of blacks supported same-sex marriage.
Then President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage. Now, polls show that suddenly, 55 percent of blacks plan to vote for same-sex marriage in Maryland, with only 36 percent opposing.
And that statistic holds true nationally. Suddenly, nearly 60 percent of black Americans across the country support same-sex marriage.
So, what changed? Certainly nothing changed in the black churches, which have large opposed same-sex marriage, and continue to do so. Nothing has changed in black households over the past couple of weeks – no change in socioeconomic status, no change in household income, no change in level of educational attainment.
Only one thing has changed. Barack Obama has spoken. And Barack Obama is black.
Make no mistake: were Obama white, no such shift would have occurred. Plenty of white politicians have endorsed same-sex marriage. When Joe Biden did so, nobody expected the black community to fall into line. But when Obama did it, suddenly there was a groundshift inside the black community.
Obama made no persuasive arguments for same-sex marriage. He hardly made any argument at all. And yet a full fifth of black voters shifted their opinions on the issue when he opened his mouth.
There are 27 majority black Congressional districts in America. 26 of them have black Congressmen. There is something to the notion that black legislators have more in common with black constituents than those who do not share their experiential background – but Barack Obama does not share those experiences. He does not share common beliefs. And what’s most perverse, when his beliefs come into conflict with those of the black population, large swaths of the black population shift their views to meet his.
Why? It’s not because they’ve been convinced by him. It’s because he leads, and too many black Americans follow, no matter how they really feel about the issues.
This spells the death of deliberative democracy. Liberal republicanism is based on the notion of the non-tribal – it’s based on the idea that we vote for the politicians who best serve the country, not those who “look like us.” And more than anything else, liberal republicanism is based on the idea that we keep our politicians accountable. We are not led by them; they represent us. If they stray from the path we want them to take, it is they who must adjust, not we.
These polls should be very frightening indeed – not because a majority of blacks suddenly support same-sex marriage, which is their prerogative, but because of the reason for that shift. The reason is not rational. It is racial. And that is a serious problem.
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