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Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Mountaintop Moment - A new era of post-racial politics?

By William Bennett and John Cribb, January 10, 2009

Neither of us voted for Barack Obama, but we never doubted that a black man could be elected president of this country in 2008, and we celebrate his election along with millions of other Americans — those who voted for him and those who did not. Now the time has come to bury many prejudices of the past and truly to move beyond racial politics in America.

When Barack Obama announced his intention to run for President early last year, many thought his candidacy would be interesting; few thought it would be successful. Then came the videos and audio of Barack Obama's pastor and friend, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, broadcasting a racially divisive and un-American creed that cast even greater doubt on an Obama candidacy. Senator Obama reassured many that Wright's view of America was not his view, saying what so many of us truly believed in our hearts and minds. Despite the ranting and raving of later-day racialists and those who still had their doubts about the meaning of our nation's founding, Barack Obama said that the U.S. "Constitution […] had at its very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law," that it was "a Constitution that promised its people liberty and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time."

Quite right. But when Barack Obama's pastor refused to take the hint — or lesson — from his pupil and candidate, he ultimately had to be cast aside, as Barack Obama full-throatedly denounced Reverend Wright and ultimately quit his church. The days of doubt about America's commitment to equality and liberty, for Obama and, happily, so many Americans who wanted to move beyond racial categorization and reference, had passed. Professor Harry Jaffa put it this way, reminding us: "Lincoln at Gettysburg said that the nation, at its birth, had been dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Earlier, Lincoln had said that the proposition of equality was the 'central idea' of the founding, from which all its minor thoughts emanated." Barack Obama seemed to understand that. And so did the voters.

Barack Obama did not just win Iowa (a state with a white population of over 94 percent). Other caucuses and primaries soon followed, including, interestingly, Georgia (where Obama received a higher percentage of the white vote than he did in New York) and Virginia (the former seat of the Confederacy, where Obama also received a higher percentage of the white vote than in New York). With the nomination in hand, Barack Obama — speaking about his race on only a few occasions, and, thus, far less than other black candidates before him — defeated his Republican opponent, and received yet a higher percentage of the white vote than John Kerry in 2004. More HERE

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