When he first ran for president, Barack Obama made a lot of promises—most of them conveniently vague such as “hope and change.” But one promise he made was both specific and appealing: his promise to be America’s first post-racial president. Of all his campaign promises, this was the only one that aroused the interest of a broad cross-section of Americans. Many Americans were rightly suspicious of Obama’s hope-and-change message. Thinking Americans wanted more information about what Obama actually meant by hope and change. Of course, as things turned out, we apparently have a lot of Americans who vote, but don’t think—but that is a topic for another article. When it came to Obama’s promise to help bridge America’s racial divide, even voters who did not trust the Senator were hopeful. We should have known better.
Many conservatives, liberals, centrists, and libertarians were drawn to Obama’s promise to be America’s first post-racial president. Some even voted for him in spite of concerns about other issues because the possibility of finally achieving racial harmony outweighed their good sense. The thinking of people in this group went something like this: If Barack Obama achieves nothing else as president, voting for him will be worth it if he will use the power and prestige of his office and the cache of being America’s first black president to help bring about racial reconciliation. The idea of a black president using his bully pulpit to speak in favor of racial healing appealed to a lot of Americans who longed for the realization of Dr. King’s inspiring dream. Unfortunately, the promise of a post-racial America quickly went the way of President’s Obama’s other campaign promises. What we got instead was Missouri burning. It should now be apparent that Obama’s post-racial promise was just like most of his other promises: empty words uttered for political effect rather than socio-cultural change.
President Obama has proven to be a politician through and through; a man willing to promise anything to get elected and just as willing to forget his promises once elected. Consequently, I don’t know if Barack Obama ever really intended to help establish a post-racial society in America—I certainly have my doubts—but once he became president he fell right in line with the Democrat’s overall strategy for staying in office: divide and conquer. Obama quickly saw that the only way he and his fellow Democrats could hope to maintain political hegemony in the halls of power was to shamelessly promote identity politics, foment racial discord, and promote class envy.
For Democrats, anything that keeps minorities distrustful, envious, and angry is a good thing or, at least, a politically expedient thing. With the shooting of Michael brown in Ferguson, Missouri, they got just what they wanted. Democrats may deplore the violence and looting publically, but privately they are silently pleased. The racial strife being seen in Ferguson serves their purposes well—just ask Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. The greatest fear of the race mongers who control the Democratic Party is that Dr. King’s dream will someday actually come true.
Once President Obama refused to challenge the Democrat’s nefarious practice of identity politics, he squandered his unique opportunity to help bridge the racial gap in America. This appears to have been a conscious choice on the part of the president, one in which he likely weighed the short-term political gains of racial discord against the long-term benefits of racial harmony, opting in the end for short-term political expedience. By doing so, President Obama did a disservice to Americans of all stripes, because all Americans will benefit when racial harmony becomes the norm and racial discord the exception. But to get from discord to harmony will require leadership, vision, statesmanship, and courage; none of which President Obama has displayed during his six years in office.
Second terms have historically been hard on presidents, and Barack Obama’s second term is shaping up to be particularly hard on him and, in turn, America. As president’s draw near to the end of their term(s), they are prone to view the world from the perspective of legacy. Every president wants to be able to look back on his time as chief executive with pride in what he accomplished, knowing he left the country better off than when he took office. President Obama will not have that luxury, but he could have had it. Coming into office as the nation’s first black president, he had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a difference that no other president before him could have made.
He could have established a legacy of racial harmony, a legacy that might have balanced somewhat the growing list of his presidential failures, but Barack Obama squandered that opportunity. In so doing he committed a great disservice to people of all races in America and to America as a whole. If you want to see Barack Obama’s legacy, just look at what happened in Ferguson, Missouri. He didn’t cause the chaos there, but with a little leadership and vision earlier in his presidency, he might have prevented it.