Obama is a spoiler. That’s right! I said it. Barack Obama’s entry into the presidential elections has spoiled it for the Clintons, even though he announced his intention days before Hillary. Imagine what it would have been like to have been a fly on the bedroom wall of the Clintons as they plotted Hillary’s run for president. Bill would have had a pen and paper checklist as Hillary and he discussed their strategies and battle plans to get the votes of different types of voters-also the issues those voters are most concerned about.
Women voters? Hillary would have told Bill to put a checkmark since she is one of them. She can relate to their struggles. Raising a family. Gender discrimination. Unequal pay for doing the same work as men. Hillary would work hard to do and say all the things needed to get those voters.
Gay voters? Check again. Many in the LGBT community weren’t thrilled with Bill’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Hillary would talk about gay marriage, discrimination and their ability to serve in the military while Bill would rewrite his presidency and put the blame on others so he could be seen in a better light.
Southern voters? Well, Bill would be primary on that one. He’s a native son. Born in Hope, Ark., he still can pull out a thick southern drawl.
Black voters? That upstart Barack Obama wouldn’t have a chance going against the wife of the “first black president.”
Senior voters? Social security, Medicare and prescription drugs. Hillary would take all that on, with Bill again rewriting his presidency to make himself less responsible for what occurred the first Clinton-go-round.
Hispanic voters? Both the Clintons will have to strategize on that one.
On and on it probably went. In fact, when Hillary announced she was going to run, her simple statement, “I’m in,” posted on her website was surely meant to scare and dismay all the other candidates.
But then, something happened. Barack Obama, whose name wasn’t even known by many outside of Illinois, started making headway. His personal life story, his charisma, and his endorsement by Oprah helped to propel him from the back of the pack to the front. Even more critical has been the phenomenon of black voters actually thinking for themselves. Black voters have been supporting Obama in record numbers and poor Bill and Hillary don’t know what to do about it.
For years the Clintons have done and said things on which the black community has given them a pass. The black community was quiet when Bill Clinton attacked Sister Souljah. So imagine the shock the Hillary Clinton campaign is going through when their missteps with regard to Obama and black Americans are being called into question. Those missteps just this month include Hillary’s remarks that Dr. King’s dream was only realized because “it took a president to get it done” and Bill’s comment calling Obama’s candidacy a “fairy tale.”
Hillary also stood by when former BET owner Bob Johnson made a snide reference to Obama’s drug use, which Obama had chronicled in his book. Johnson had to apologize, not because the Clintons were upset, but because for once, black folks got upset. And just this past Monday as Martin Luther King III was speaking at an event observing his father’s holiday, Bill Clinton was caught in the cameras nodding off to sleep!
The South Carolina primary is this Saturday. It will be the first test of who black folks are truly supporting. In the meantime, it’s nice to watch candidates truly work for our votes and not just pander to us during a church service. If we as black people are to be courted for our votes as opposed to being taken for granted, let’s make sure we get something out of it. If nothing else, Barack Obama’s campaign has forever changed the assumptions that candidates can just assume our vote and don’t have to work for it and be accountable at the same time.
And speaking of being accountable, I was taken to task over the Internet by Tony Peraica for not mentioning his candidacy for Cook County state’s attorney in my last column. I purposely didn’t mention him because it is my belief that in order to “have a race, you must have runners.” Since he is solo on the Republican ballot, and voters must declare a party in order to vote, his race in my opinion doesn’t start until he has a Democratic opponent.
And after watching the boring Democratic forum this past Sunday, whoever wins the contest on the Democratic side is surely in for a race as Mr. Peraica will make them “run” for the position and not enjoy a simple cakewalk to victory.