When using their favorite debating tactic—name calling—liberals like to smear conservatives, Christians, and anyone else who disagrees with them as “intolerant bigots.” Another favorite pejorative of the left is “racist.” Consequently, in the intellectually shallow world of the left, anyone who disagrees with a liberal must be a bigot, a racist, or both.  The two terms have been much in use since Barack Obama was elected as the president who, ironically, promised to establish racial harmony in our country.  Unfortunately, progress toward this worthy goal has been elusive.

So what happened?  Why after electing its first black president is America more divided along racial lines race than it has been since the epic battles of Bull Connor and Martin Luther King, Jr.?  Why is there so much vitriolic name calling in public discourse? Why is there so little dialogue between liberals and conservatives, blacks and whites, homosexuals and straights, secular humanists and Christians?  Why has the term bigot re-emerged as the pejorative of choice for leftwing journalists?  The answer to all of these questions is the same: A failure of leadership on the part of America’s first black president, Barack Obama.

Surveys and polls have shown conclusively that many Americans who voted for Barack Obama did so because they wanted to see racial discord become a thing of the past.  They wanted our country to finally live out Dr. King’s eloquent admonition to judge people by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.  These forward-looking voters believed Barack Obama when he promised that with him steering the ship of state, these things would happen—the racial divide would be bridged, Americans with different worldviews would be able to disagree without being disagreeable, and ours would become a country in which diversity is an asset rather than a source of constant discord.

Were Americans who believed Barack Obama’s pledge to bridge our country’s great racial divide naïve? As things turned out, the answer to this question is obvious.  But I do not fault naive Americans for voting with their hearts, in this case, even though they should have known better.  At least they had a worthy goal.  Rather, I blame the man who made such grandiose promises and then defaulted on those promises. Never in our nation’s history did a newly-elected president have a better opportunity to transform America’s motto of E Pluribus Unum from a philosophical goal into a practical reality.  All that was needed from Barack Obama to bring people of different races and worldviews together in unity was leadership: the act of inspiring people by your example to not just do better, but BE better.   Unfortunately, what Americans got from their new president was not leadership, but arrogant name calling, finger pointing, and divisiveness

When the election in 2008 gave Barack Obama the opportunity to put America once and for all on the high road to harmony through diversity, the new president chose to take the low road to divisiveness.  A leader sets the tone for his followers and Barack Obama had been president barely long enough to find the Oval Office before he set a tone of intolerance and divisiveness.  He turned a normal police call in Cambridge, Massachusetts, into a nationally televised racial incident.  Later in his presidency, rather than use his bully pulpit to calm racial tension, he turned a tragic stand-your-ground killing in Florida into a racial powder keg.  Once elected, President Obama quickly established a precedent for viewing events through the eyes of race.  His followers quickly picked up on the president’s tone and began labeling dissenters “racists” and “bigots.”  When the president failed to challenge his followers to get out of the gutter, they took his silence—not to mention his example—as approval and went into high gear driving down the low road.

Now as Barack Obama faces a serious challenge for the presidency, the venom, vitriol, and volume of his supporters are taking political discourse in our country to new lows.  As the recent Chick-fil-A controversy showed, although it is liberals who demand through threats and intimidation that all Americans accept their worldviews, it is conservatives and Christians who are labeled “bigots” and “racists.”  Under Barack Obama, liberals have become the very things they like to call their opponents.