From John Sununu’s Colin Powell swipe to grim polls about racism, it’s clear that hope and change is so 2008
So if you’re Romney, dedicated to using nostalgic references that cast you as Ronald Reagan defeating one-term President Jimmy “Barack” Carter, then manipulating white Americans to vote along racial lines is a winning strategy. Why would surrogates like Sununu knowingly sow the seeds of racial animus and divisiveness? The answer can be found in the outcome.
Romney maintains his lead among white voters, even though nearly 50 percent of them believe that he would do more to favor the wealthy than the poor and middle class. And according to a recent survey conducted by the Associated Press, in the past four years the number of Americans who express explicit anti-black attitudes has increased from 48 percent in 2008 to 51 percent today. Implicit racial bias — the kind that people may neither admit nor realize they harbor — increased sharply from 49 percent to 56 percent. Survey respondents used Sununu’s word, “lazy,” and other words, like “violent,” to describe African Americans and Hispanics.
It doesn’t take a rigorous education in America’s racialized political history to see that propaganda like that used by Sununu has a direct effect on how the wider populace perceives President Obama — and black people in general. Andrew Sullivan, a columnist at the Daily Beast, recently called this phenomenon a cold civil warand explained that it’s been slowly brewing since Obama took office.
The AP report also revealed that Republicans were more likely than Democrats to express explicit racial prejudice, by a margin of 79 percent to 32 percent. Indeed, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, a white Republican and Powell’s former chief of staff, told MSNBC’s Ed Schultz last week that the GOP is “full of racists.”
Party leaders — and campaign officials — can neither ignore these survey results nor deny any responsibility for having created them. Unlike Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Donald Trump, who race-bait to promote their own personal, partisan agendas, Sununu is a chairman of the Romney presidential campaign. His behavior can be seen only as an explicit strategy. Even later, when Sununu released a statement clarifying his ill-conceived words, there remained no apology — and not a word, at all, from Romney himself.
It seems that when the ultimate prize is the Oval Office, national unity, racial harmony and democratic ideals are welcome casualties.
Read more from Edward Wyckoff Williams on The Root