Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Talking Turkey About Race

Nobody wants to talk about it, but the reality is that some voters who might otherwise vote for the Democrat in November, won't -- because he's black. It's a conversation that might kill us if we never get around to having it.

In Slate last week, Jacob Weisberg suggested that, with everything else perfectly set up for a Democratic victory -- eight disastrous years of Bush and GOP control of Congress; a weak candidate running a barely-competent campaign, etc. -- the only reason Obama could lose is racism. You may not completely buy in to the premise, but it's an interesting and compelling case he makes, and food for thought.

Yesterday, during the Greater Boston Central Labor Council's annual Labor Day breakfast -- at which John Kerry and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino both spoke -- Massachusetts AFL-CIO president Robert Haynes urged the 350 union members and supporters to confront racism wherever they encounter it during the campaign.

Haynes said racism was prevalent everywhere, not just in the unions, although he did not think that most voters were racist. Still, he said he decided to make it a major issue because even a small number rejecting Obama because of his race could hurt his chances.
I'm trying to fight off the dread that would be only natural to feel this time -- after two election cycles in which the eventual outcome was something I could just barely conceive of before the votes were "counted" (or whatever you want to call what took place). This time, if the worst happens, it won't be disappointment for my country that I'll feel; it will be irreconcilable loathing.