If Obama Loses

“It Would Not Be Because of Race”


While seeking to distance himself from his former pastor Jeremiah Wright last spring, Barack Obama told reporters that if he lost in his quest for the presidency, “it would not be because of race. It would be because of mistakes I made along the campaign trail"[1].


I have no idea what’s going to happen in November. This presidential election is even more difficult to call than the last two, thanks in part to race.


Still, I can safely say that, like many of Obama’s formulations, his comment was partly true and largely false. Racial bloc voting and the well-documented reluctance of many whites to vote for a black presidential candidate – widely evident during the Democratic primaries – are obviously going to be a relevant factor in the November elections [2]. If Obama loses to the reactionary war-mongering nut-job John McCain despite a political context that would normally strongly favor a Democrat this time around, the refusal of a significant number of white voters to support a black candidate will be a significant part of the explanation.


The Swift-(Wright-) Boating is Underway


But other factors besides “race” (racism), Obama mistakes included, will contribute to an Obama defeat if he loses. The powerful Republican right-wing attack machine is already effectively “Swift-boating” him. The “war hero” (former bomber of Vietnamese civilians) and leading Iraq “war” (imperial invasion) enthusiast John McCain and the FOX News crowd are bludgeoning Obama with the charge of being “soft” (insufficiently militaristic and imperial) on Iraq and now on Russia. With dominant U.S. media consistently following the lead of the far right by framing electability around “toughness” when it comes to “national security,” situations like the current conflict between Russia and Georgia work to leading Russia critic McCain’s distinct advantage.