Race and Anti-Obama ‘Hysteria’

Obama after speaking to the joint session of Congress.

The Republicans keep crooning their party’s tired old tune from the Great Depression: the free market, not “big government,” chases hard times away.

Never mind that a hefty helping of unfettered capitalism in the 1920s caused the Great Depression by concentrating more and more wealth into fewer and fewer hands.

Forget that in 1932, when joblessness and business failures were edging toward historic highs, the country turned to the federal government to lead us back to prosperity.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Democrats said if the private sector couldn’t stimulate the economy, the government should. Most people were glad for the jobs and other help the New Deal gave them, and they voted accordingly.

So why is there so much distrust — if not downright hatred – for government, President Barack Obama and the Democrats?

Morehead, Ky., State University historian and author John Hennen doesn’t mince words: “The hysteria about Obama, although some of it may be related to philosophical objections to central authority, is largely rooted in race.”

Those are fighting words to most white folks who vote Republican.

Yet in FDR’s day, a majority of white folks loved federal programs like Social Security that made their lives better.

Most whites favored Medicare in the 1960s, too. But it was also in that fateful decade that a multitude of whites, especially in the old Confederate states, turned against Washington and the Democrats.

However, much of white America wasn’t fond of federal civil rights activism, namely landmark laws aimed at ending years of Jim Crow segregation. Many whites also opposed new federal anti-poverty programs which they believed — falsely — only benefited African Americans.

Seeing a chance to make political hay from disaffected whites, the Republicans abandoned their historic commitment to civil rights for the “Southern Strategy.” Crying “states rights!” — the old Dixie code word for slavery and Jim Crow — the new GOP reaped a bountiful harvest of “white backlash” voters.

For the past 50 years or so, Republican denunciations of “big government” have been mostly “dressed up appeals to white supremacy,” Hennen said.

The GOP is what the Democrats used to be: mainly the white folks party. The old Democratic “Solid South” is largely Republican Red.

To be sure, current Republicans – even neo-Confederates like Gov. Rick Perry of Texas – don’t overtly race-bait like Dixie’s Democratic demagogues of old did. They don’t have to; the tea party faithful and the rest of the “Obama’s-a-Kenyan-born-Islamo-Socialist” crowd that make up a growing chunk of the GOP’s base get the message.

Anyway, the Republicans keep hammering away at the debt, claiming it is the number one “job killer.” They say that “big government” – meaning people-helping programs, not the defense department — is Public Enemy Number One and that Uncle Sam can’t spend us out of the recession.

FDR used deficit spending to stimulate the economy and provide jobs. By the mid-30s, the country seemed headed out of the Depression.

As a result, Roosevelt slashed federal spending. In 1937, the economy sagged again.

Berry CraigNot until World War II was our economic recovery complete. But we financed the war with record deficit spending. The deficit was 30 percent of our gross domestic product in 1943, 23 percent in 1944 and 22 percent in 1945.

That fact has led some economists to conclude that had FDR employed more deficit spending, the Depression might have gone away sooner.

But what probably won’t go away any time soon is the GOP’s thinly veiled pandering to white prejudice, according to Hennen. The Great Emancipator must be spinning in his tomb.

Berry Craig


  1. Brutally Honest says

    I think the hatred for Obama is highly rooted in race (and also of course the party he’s affiliated with). It’s mainly the timing of the Tea Party’s “anger” about the deficit and economy that makes me think this way.

    When the economy started taking a nosedive during the Bush years you heard nothing. When the Bush administration rang up huge spending deficits and didn’t even count their war spending in the books you heard nothing. Where were these people? They slept through the 2008 fiscal disaster. When the private sector started hemorrhaging jobs by the hundred-thousands each month of 2008 you didn’t hear a peep. Where were they?

    Once Obama took over and tried to clean up the huge mess that was left to his administration suddenly the Tea Party ilk sprang up to let their voices be heard. Socialism was the new buzz word and we heard it constantly. I doubt most of these people know what socialism is. Suddenly they needed to march to the White House with their anti-Obama and socialism signs. They had 5+ years to march to the White House during the Bush administration to protest his administration’s spending habits and let him know that he was running the economy into the gutter but he’s considered “one of them” so when Bush destroyed the country it was “ok”. They gave him a pass on their “anger” lol.

    The timing of the Tea Party’s emergence is no coincidence. If a white republican president were in office right now instead of Obama there would be no Tea Party today because he would be “one of them”. Even if that white republican president destroyed this country worse than Bush there would be no outrage. These same people are going to champion Rick Perry for presidency when he’s pretty much kicked Texas in the teeth with his policies. That tells all I need to know about how much they’re willing to overlook for anyone who’s “one of them”.

    • in_awe says

      “Brutally Honest says:
      September 11, 2011 at 8:10 pm

      I think the hatred for Obama is highly rooted in race (and also of course the party he’s affiliated with). It’s mainly the timing of the Tea Party’s “anger” about the deficit and economy that makes me think this way. ”

      Have you bothered to look at the actual spending statistics in the Bush and Obama administrations, along with the WH and OMB 10 year forecasts? With the WH doubling down on failed policies is dumbfounding. Why do you suppose the entire corps of economic advisers for this President have jumped ship? Is it because of the success of his policies? Is it that they would embarrassed by all accolades they would receive from the masses, and the Nobel Prizes they would have to accept? Right.

      Try just for once arguing something without the ad hominem attacks and the tired old cries of racism. Accept the truth that people are sincerely concerned about the financial future of this country, and that President Obama pressing down on the spending accelerator when past spending has shown negative results is a legitimate topic to debate.

  2. Joe Weinstein says

    Although the various prior commenters and the article itself disagree profoundly, all have valid points and all miss valid points.

    Yes, there is idiotic hostility to Obama – the kind that typically will go far as to call his right-of-Reagan policies (not just long-ago parts of his background) Marxist. Open demonstrations of that hostility are in part due to racism, but in part are just an opportunistic taking advantage of his wimpitude. Yes, there is real racism, but a non-wimp Obama could handle it readily – after all, as MyLeftMind points out, the people did elect him. And yes, at least in part, this article uses the charge of racism as a red flag to divert us from and misguidedely excuse Obama’s failures. Those failures owe in part to his wimpitude and in part to his sincere misperceptions. Not only will he be the loser, but the country has already long been the loser.

    Bottom line. I agree with MyLeftMind that the Dem party is being destroyed. But Obama isnt doing it alone: those who are really doing it are the ones who are going along with him despite his failure, instead of supporting and offering an alternative 2012 candidacy to rally real Dems for the real Dem agenda.

  3. stop racism says

    People need to stop blaming race on everything. We now live in the 21st century for goodness sake. We need to look at what poor people need of all colors and races. We need to look at class and not race.

    Legal American Poor people get hurt by illegals taking their jobs away and keeping wages low. And, they get hurt by illegals getting more attention and taking time and seats away from their kids in local public schools. Poor people get hurt by the government taking a lot of their paycheck for taxes. Why work harder or more hours just for the money to be taken away in taxes? Let’s talk about creating jobs for the poor by giving tax breaks to small businesses that will employ more people if they had more money in their pocket.

  4. Sharon Brown says

    Well the responses to this article indicate Mr. Craig is right. I would add that at this point many conservatives raging over Obama’s right of center conservative policies have racism so ingrained in their being that they can no longer recognize it for what it is. They feel like their country is slipping away from them And that “those minorities” are taking over. Fearing and resenting minorities IS racism folks!!

    It’s truly disgusting that the Tea Party and most Republican politicians today shun the idea that we’re all in this together. they believe that those folks who have benefited financially from the structure of this capitalistic economic system, are somehow “better than” those of us working people who actually earn our meager salaries by working hard every day for 40 years or so, or god forbid those “have-nots” who are trying to survive below the poverty level. So in addition to the racism we also have a caste system with the lower classes considered hateful dregs of society. All of this is based on selfish, self centered perceptions and will cause this country to look like a third world nation should these people ever gain total power.

    • in_awe says

      I often wonder when I read articles like Mr. Craig’s and reader comments whether I am reading the words of a cynical manipulator, or the words of the manipulated. The not so subtle “dog whistle” of the left is the cry of racism. When it is issued, the howls begin in unison that any opposition to progressive policies is racism. Grrr!

      When the major cities of this country have been controlled by Democrats and their union enablers for decades, it is hard to accept the “argument” that poor conditions in the schools and social welfare, and work environment is owned by conservatives.

      Take a good, hard look at yourselves people. Cast aside for a moment your reflexive cry of racism targeted at conservatives and tally your own responsibility for the decades of despair blacks and poor have suffered under your rule.

  5. MyLeftMind says

    Racism is just an excuse for Obama’s failures. Americans already voted him in as president. His skin color didn’t stop him the first time. But he’s going to sink the Democratic Party’s chances in 2012, not because he’s black and people won’t vote for a black man, but because he’s a failure as President. He might get reelected, but we’ll likely lose both sides of Congress because he’s created a whole new wave of disaffected voters who thought they elected an economic populist. It turns out he’s not on our side after all. Instead, he’s all about promoting Republican policies and destroying middle class viability. His priority is making the rich richer at the expense of the common American.

    But go ahead and blame it on racism. Just remember, we already out voted the GOP in 2008. There aren’t enough racists left in the country to stop us. But our first black president is doing a great job of destroying our Democratic Party simply by failing those of us who elected him.

  6. Pam says

    Thanks for asking. The real issue that Mr. Craig brings up so eloquently is that conservatives of the Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor ilk are the new liberal elite. They detest efforts to rein in climate change and they hate the old Social Security, placing me, a true progressive, in the Real Conservative vanguard. Scrap the climate that we have all lived with for thousands of years (see William Snape, III in today’s Washington Post Free for All) and get rid of that old money grabbing Social Security. What a farce! It ain’t about states rights! It’s about ripping off the government so the private sector can enrich itself. Hello Blackwater, Halliburton, and KBR! Fancy seeing you here, Dick Cheney!

  7. Nusun Singleton says

    In my limited years or watching the political process, I truly cannot tell the difference between Democrat and Republican, all this grand standing, and political theater does not draw any distinctions between the two parties. I often have wondered why someone would spend 30 million dollars to get a jop that pays $400,000 a year.

  8. Craig says

    To say that many rank and file conservatives are not racist is nonsense. The Southern strategey was designed to keep the Blacks down. Having pictures of Obama with a bone through his nose isn’t flattering or Tea Party supporters crouching in tea bag positions is truly the “new low.”
    With the civil rights act the Republicans were potentially bankrupt and moved toward the racist right. FDR developed what was called the Second Bill of Rights which is a honest perspective on his position.
    In California Howard Javis author of Prop 13 was asked was he concerned about what 13 would do to education, he said public education”only encourages the minorities.’ We’ve gone from first to worst in education because of this racist sentiment.Our prisons are filled with minorities ,more than any other country in the world. If that ain’t racism I don’t know what is. Our rage to punish is a conservative reaction to civil rights and the fact that the prison boom lead by Republican governors is the proof of the pudding.
    Maybe a good way to look at it is Left wing Keynesianism and right wing Kensyenism .We want better health care and education and pensions and you want what you want.

    • in_awe says

      Your diatribe is simple ad hominen attacks using disgusting images that leapt out of your brain but represent lies in the real world. As to the supposed quote by Howard Jarvis, a Google search discovers not a single result that is even remotely close in content or tone. Now if someone with the public image of Howard Jarvis had in fact uttered that comment it would have been captured and repeated ad naseum by the leftwing echo chamber. Given that is not the case, I demand a retraction and apology from you.

      As to your other comments, they follow in the same vein – despicable and vile – and reveal much about the person who utters them.

      • Mateo On Mongo says

        BTW, Howard Jarvis was also, among other things, a (vodka-drinking) Mormon, a religion founded by Joseph Smith, who specifically detailed as a matter of LDS doctrine, that “Negroes” were inferior to other races.

  9. in_awe says

    In 1937 and 1938 Roosevelt “slashed” spending 4.3% and 4.5%, respectively. You claim this is the reason why a recession occurred in this time period. You discount the analysis done by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and UCLA that persuasively argues that Roosevelt’s vaunted policies actually extended the length of the Great Depression and resulted in unnecessary hardship on the citizens of this nation.

    Perhaps you should reflect on the results of federal spending cuts in the earlier great depression that saw the economy swing from depression to the Roaring Twenties growth courtesy of federal spending truly being slashed (!) 63% in 1920 from $19B in 1919 to $7B in 1920, then to $6B in 1921, then to $4B in 1922. The depression was cured within 18 months and federal spending remained below $5B until 1933.

    As for your charges of racism, I will defend the conservative record against the progressive record anytime. The calculated racism of the left is despicable and is the equivalent of modern day economic and cultural slavery imposed on blacks and Hispanics in the pursuit of political advantage. It is the deplorable legacy of the left since the 1960’s and the fact you evince no shame over the left’s policies and behavior is stunning. One day the left’s slaves will rebel and it will not be a pretty picture when the scales fall from their eyes.

  10. Libertarian Conservative says

    Yeah, states’ rights is just a codeword for how much I hate blacks. Not because I believe in decentralized democracy and the right of the people to govern themself; my lack of faith in the Benevolent State™ stems from my seething bitterness towards people of color. Brilliant deduction, grandpa.

    • Val Eisman says

      I agree with you Libertarian Cosnervative. It is plain stupid from another middle-class guilt-filled white liberal probably that misses the fact that the jobless Democratic white worker turned Republican turned Democrat once again just to vote for Barack Obama was given the shaft once again by the Democratic Party. It’s a clever attempt to blame white racism for the failings of the corporatist Democratic Party and it’s present representative in black skin. The corporatists probably chose Obama just to deflect any criticism of their candidate’s policies by screaming “racism”. Aided and abetted by the liberal hypocritical constituent wing of the Democratic Party whose true beliefs are benign neglect. The people screaming racism are racist themselves in most cases. They have NEVER supported full employment in our society and instead of supported the AFDC program which Sen. Monyihan alerted us was destroying the black family. And it did and declassed an entire sector of African Americans.

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