“THE WHITE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM”

            “I am just so fearful that this is not a man [Barack Obama] who sees America the way you and I see America.” – Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin at a campaign rally in Clearwater, Florida on October 6, 2008.

            Whether she knew it or not, whether it was intentional or not, Sarah Palin spoke the truth on that sunny Florida morning almost two and a half years ago. Barak Hussein Obama II, the only child of a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas, does not see America as she and her supporters see it. He sees it as an inclusive society, open to the changes that the 21st century has brought forth and one that, Americans of all races, creeds and colors can share, live and prosper in. That’s not how his opponents see or want it and that’s one of the main factors in their lockstep opposition to him.

            When one looks at the average Obama event, you see a cross-section of today’s America: whites, blacks, browns, yellows; young, middle-age, and seniors; straight, gay; and you get a feeling of frustration combined with a sense of realistic optimism. You hear messages of hope and change for the future. President Obama talks about investing in America’s future, particularly in the areas of education, infrastructure and new technology which will create new industries which, in turn, will provide good-paying jobs for Americans.

            On the other side, when you look at any Republican gathering, especially those of the so-called “Tea Party, what one usually sees is a crowd of middle-aged angry people. And those crowds, no matter what city, town or state the event occurs in, are virtually all-white. If not for the modern clothing and hairstyles, one could easily mistake most GOP campaign events for an episode of a 1950s television show.

            In fact, anyone visiting America from another country could easily believe, from what they’d see in most televised news footage of the campaign so far, that Barack Obama and those seeking the Republican nomination are running to be president of two distinctly different countries. Mr. Obama’s supporters run the gamut of the nation’s citizens while those of his opponents seem to be the diametrical opposite. And while no one disputes that the economy is going to be the main focus of the presidential campaign from this point forward, there’s an undeniable current of race, color and class that permeates it as well.

            As in 2008, the mainstream media seems very reluctant to even approach this subject, let alone delve into it deeply. But, the words and pictures – some overtly racist and others couched in coded phrases like “taking back our country” or “going back to the America I/we grew up in”  – don’t lie. The 2012 presidential campaign is as much about Barack Obama’s skin color as it is about his policies and worldview. It is also about an increasingly undereducated and shrinking white middle-class that fears for its very existence. It is about a large group of Americans for whom change is the absolute worst thing that could ever happen to them. And it is about their yearning for a time in the not-so-distant past when “colored people” knew their place in American and stayed there.

            There’s a white elephant in the room and it can no longer be ignored.

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