*Anticipation for the televised presidential debate rivals that of an imminent sequel to a blockbuster movie or a championship prize fight, Obama being the overwhelming favorite to win.
Broadly, there seems to be momentum and presentiment of impending victory.
However, at the end of the day, there loiters one unremitting reason Obama could lose his bid for reelection: he’s black.
Before reading any further, just so you know, this soliloquy is shamelessly partisan, as in: don’t believe for one minute that Obama’s job is in jeopardy because he didn’t do this, or failed to achieve that. Anyone who can think and reason for themselves knows damn well America can’t be rebooted in four years. At least the current administration has kept the nation above water. No, if Obama loses, ultimately it’ll be because of his skin color.
Ahh, the ol’ tired, rabbit-eared race card, you say (don’t leave home–or run an election–without it). There are those who insist the race factor is absurd. Especially, they say, when you consider that Barack Obama, a black man, is already president–which means a segment of Americans who never dreamed they’d willingly vote Democrat, let alone for a black man, in 2008 did both.
Today, that particular voter is on the fence. Nervous from very the beginning about a black man running the country, said voter can’t be sure if things are getting better, and they don’t trust themselves to know the difference.
And they’re being scared to death by the rhetoric of people who, on the day Obama was sworn in–before he’d done a single thing in office–publicly vowed to make certain he didn’t succeed. From day one, the goal was to make Obama a “one-term president.” Their words.
You’d think the White House had been taken over by beings from another planet. Or a black man. You’d also think that, for the sake of the nation, those who differentiate themselves as “true Americans” would hope the guy who ended up getting the gig gets it right. You’d think they’d want to lend a hand. Instead, curled in ignorance and fear, they create a tight, trembling fist.
I’m not saying that if you don’t vote for Obama, you’re a racist. I’m not saying that if you are black, you must vote for Obama. By the way, there are people of every persuasion who simply feel better when a white man is in charge.
I’m saying that if you ARE interested in Barack Obama getting a second term, you’d better vote. And get your friends and family to do so. Because this ain’t over, ’til it’s over.
Don’t sleep. Don’t be lulled by favorable polls and blued-out electoral maps into thinking it’s in the bag. When they’re alone in that booth, people occasionally change their minds.
Don’t count on everyone who voted for Obama before to vote on him again. And understand that voting for Obama in 2008 immunized certain voters to any guilt about not voting for him again.
So, vote. Because if Obama loses, you’re not going to like how it feels. Remember the pit in your stomach in 2000 after that hanging chad business in Florida, when you realized George W. Bush was going to be president for yet four more years?
Think of how surreal it felt the day Michael Jackson died. Or how hopeless and frightening 9/11 was. You don’t want to feel like that again.
Steven Ivory, journalist and author of the essay collection Fool In Love (Simon & Schuster), has covered popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio and TV for more than 30 years. Respond to him via [email protected].