President Obama is a radical socialist…as evident by none of his policies or anything he’s ever said. He’s a radical because his opponents call him a radical. They dubbed his signature market-based health care law a government takeover of health care. It’s not. It’s RomneyCare, the most milquetoast of all the Cares. Still Congress has voted to repeal it more than 60 times.
According to Obama’s detractors, everything he does is either unprecedented, weak or disrespectful. Early in his first term the president was photographed putting his feet on his desk in the Oval Office. The reaction was apoplectic. The forward your granny sent you asked, “Does this photo taken in the Oval Office convey anything to you about attitude and arrogance?” Then the slideshow of Every President in the History of the Republic Putting His Feet on His Desk surfaced. Sure, he was the first black president to put his feet on the desk. It was different. No one could quite put their finger on exactly why. It just was.
For the last seven years these hysterics have developed their own rhythm: Widespread panic over Obama’s alleged extremism, followed by calmer voices saying a beloved white president did the same thing, then the whole episode evolving into dog whistles for a bloc resenting “political correctness.”
Yes, it’s Obama’s divisiveness. He divided the country, you see. How did he do that exactly? The stuff he did as president…with the things. Anything specific? Divided everyone…violated the Constitution. Which part? All of them. Violated all of them. He’s taken away our rights. Which rights? So many, it’s impossible to count them all.
Seven years of having a man named Barack Hussein Obama as the most powerful man in the country and we still struggle to even admit there’s prejudice and double standards for people of color. We still can’t accept that No Drama Obama is a centrist with a shockingly (real) scandal-free administration which inherited an economy in free fall. The only radical thing in the Obama years is an unpopular gerrymandered Congress screaming, “you lie!”—filibustering, delaying, shutting down and otherwise sabotaging the whole idea of divided government. It’s not the storied “other side of the aisle,” it’s the other side of history. We still can’t get past the statement, “I just don’t like him.”
Even if he does something you agree with?! The Obama years have been marked by the adage: “If Obama does it, I don’t agree with it.” (See: The START Treaty.)
Imagine if Bernie Sanders were a black man. Bernie’s policies are actually radical. He also gets to be angry and it’s not seen as threatening whatsoever. (Google “Obama anger” and it’s mostly right-wing websites warning about a cartoon Obama people should fear.) Bernie really does want a government takeover of health care. He really does want to give people “free stuff.” He actually refers to himself as a Democratic Socialist. Imagine the terror it’d evoke if he said all this while also having black skin. Bernie gets to be a radical and still considered a contender for the White House because he’s a white dude.
Obama’s mixed race and ethnic name are all the radical America can handle. Americans freak out about black radicals. (See: Beyoncé’s last video and homage to the Black Panthers at theHalftime show at the Super Bowl.)
Imagine if Trump were black. If he was off the rails and saying whatever he wanted: using profanity, insulting other nations, calling Megyn Kelly a bimbo, being publicly lustful and saying America is no longer great. (See: Rev. Wright’s “god damn America.”) If white people were getting beat up at his rallies—if a black Trump were calling for torturing detainees, banning religious minorities from entering the country and retweeting black supremacists, he’d be a goner. His fascistic rants would be dubbed a national security threat. He’d be ostracized and marginalized. We’d stop hearing about him.
The same can’t be said for black men (or white women, another column for another time).
Seven years into his presidency Obama still gets treated like a revolutionary usurper rather than a twice democratically elected American President. The most mundane of all presidential tasks still get framed as though they’re the Final Moments Before Total White Genocide (See: Mt. Denali). Even as I type this I expect sighs and eye rolls over yet another column about race in Obama’s America.
To those incensed Obama is going to pick another Supreme Court justice, that he’s not just going to serve three-fifths of his term, those still lamenting that he’s so arrogant/uppity/radical and yet still president, I will quote the late Justice Scalia when he was asked about Bush v. Gore: “Get over it!”
Taking Eternal Vigilance Too Far