Imagine if a well-known Mitt Romney supporter with a popular, nationally syndicated radio show used the platform of his notoriety to assert the following:
Forget that that’s a lie – that he has done plenty for Mormons and will do more if he gets the chance to serve another term… Let’s not even deal with the facts right now. Let’s deal with just our Mormonism and pride – and loyalty. We have the chance to elect the first Mormon president, and that’s what we ought to be doing. And I’m not afraid or ashamed to say that as Mormons, we should do it because he’s a Mormon. There are a great number of people who are against him because he’s Mormon. That should be enough motivation for us to band together and get it done.
Romney would be justifiably mortified, and Americans justifiably disgusted. Romney’s chances for winning the Republican nomination would crater, never mind how damaging it would be were it to happen during a general election.
Here’s what Tom Joyner, he of the Tom Joyner Morning Show, and author of a blog on blackamericaweb.com, actually said on his blog:
Forget that that’s a lie – that he has done plenty for African-Americans and will do more if he gets the chance to serve another term. Forget that bin Laden was captured and killed under his watch. Let’s not even deal with the facts right now. Let’s deal with just our blackness and pride – and loyalty. We have the chance to re-elect the first African-American president, and that’s what we ought to be doing. And I’m not afraid or ashamed to say that as black people, we should do it because he’s a black man. There are a great number of people who are against him because he’s a black man. That should be enough motivation for us to band together and get it done.
Mormons make up only about 2-3% of the population; blacks, about 12-13%. It is mathematically impossible to be elected President on the basis of being either Mormon or black, but more importantly, it is utterly stupid to try.
I don’t believe even a little bit that Joseph Smith, the author of the Book of Mormon upon which the Christian sect is founded, was a special oracle of God, or that Christ reappeared in America as the book asserts (but the book does provide compelling evidence of the human instinct to entwine race, religion and statecraft). But I believe that Mormons have the right to believe such things, and I won’t bother them about it so long as they don’t try to thrust their beliefs down my throat. Besides, whatever their beliefs, in my experience, Mormons are generally excellent parents, friends and colleagues, and a man should only be judged by another man for his actions, not his beliefs. Leave his heart for God alone to judge. But if the Mormons start running candidates for President as an overt strategy to have their beliefs mainstreamed, it would ensure they wouldn’t get my vote, and I would be voting against them because they are Mormon.
Barack Obama was elected as the putative first black President. He’s only half-black, but the blacks that voted for him saw only the side of his genetic heritage that he held in common with them. Obama is smart enough to understand, even if his black supporters don’t get it, that even 100% of the black vote is not enough to get him re-elected. He would still need to win, like he did the first time, at least a slim majority of the great, white, undecided middle. It’s not outlandish to believe that at least a few of those white voters casting their ballots for Obama in 2008 did so because he is black, getting caught up in the hysteria of the moment that what they were doing was historic. Obama can’t rely on any similar hysteria this time around. He rode such a thin edge between black and white voters the first time around, that although he had the good will of so many white people ready to atone for the sins of their ancestors by voting for him, he still had to throw his black-power-theology pastor of the last two decades–the man who married him–under the bus.
Maybe Obama will likewise throw Joyner under the bus. Or maybe Joyner’s explicit call to support Obama for his race is a calculated move to allow Obama to pull the same symbolic nonsense as he did with Jeremiah Wright. Either way, it likely won’t much matter. Obama has a record to run on now. The messianic sheen provided by his unique racial heritage has faded. People no longer believe that Obama can take the water of their disillusionment, grief and despair and make sweet wine of it.
Obama’s black supporters would do well to at least pretend their support is not about his race this time, because this time, if the race does become racial, he will lose in a landslide, no matter which ol’ yellow dog the Republicans run against him.