A reader writes:
Full disclosure: I'm 33, white, male, married, a dad and left-of-center supporter of Obama.
I think I've stumbled onto something that might explain why Obama doesn't have more support from traditional Democrats, and it is actually somewhat disturbing.
I work with a mid 20something woman who is definitely on the way left of most issues, and she is not only a Hillary supporter but seems to discount Obama as a serious candidate at all. Much of her lack of support for Obama seems to boil down to one major point: She doesn't believe this country is ready to elect a black man.
I find this strange coming from someone who often waxes on about inclusion and diversity. One would think, given those views, that she would naturally support his run for the presidency and view it as a positive sign that we in the United States have made huge progress in our race relations. Who would have thought 10 years ago - to say nothing of 40 years ago - we could have such a person as a serious contended for the White House. But alas, it occured to me that people like my coworker actually depend on the status quo of race relations in America. As you have pointed out in your blog, Obama highlights how the era of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton is ending, and this is very much threatening to them. For a certain wing of the Democratic party, there is a need to convince voters that we've gone nowhere in terms of improved race relations. For without this and other wedge social issues, what could they use to get people mobilized? In this sense, their tactics are no better than the GOPs current crop.
It's the reason why when Imus makes a racial slur, Op-ed writers like Eugene Robinson hold him up as the poster boy for what is wrong with white America. When this mess in Jena happens, Jackson and Sharpton decend to lend their voices to the fray, and inevitably go too far by saying that a white rural town in Louisiana represents white America. Well excuse me, but Imus and Jena do not represent me. I believe I represent the majority of white America that has moved on, or is at least trying to. I am impressed not by the color of Obama's skin but by the promise his message holds for the country. I also, like you, view him as far less dangerous a potential president than Hillary would be when it comes to executive power.