Friday, September 24, 2010

20: Obama Accounting: Gerrymandering for a Black Racialist Political Victory?

The Gerrymander, a politcal tool, takes the image of a frightening prehistoric salamander. This graphically portrays the political boundaries of a "gerrymandered Massachusetts election district" in 1812.

Gerrymandering is a political tool used by American politicians to change the boundaries of voting districts to produce a win by one of the two US political parties. Voters have a choice of the 2 major political parties, Democratic Party or Republican Party candidates, or occasionally other candidates who are able to get on the ballot.

Gerrymandering historically has been used to "redraw" districts to promote a Democratic or Republican win. The African-American Barack Obama, campaigned in Illinois and federally, as a Democrat, with the political party which appeals to and receives many black, ethnic, or other minority votes because of its focus on social welfare funding. In Illinois, Obama went further into gerrymandering in his legal career in preparation for his political career as an African-American candidate than the typical American politician.

As a black-identified political community organizer, Barack Obama worked with ACORN/ Project vote to register voters. Obama continued to work with ACORN/Project Vote, in 1991 and 1995, as a black civil rights attorney with Chicago's Judson Miner at Davis, Miner, Barnhill and Galland, to redraw voting district boundaries to promote the success of black politicians, including his own impending political campaigns in Illinois for state representative (1995-1998), then state senator, (1998-2002), then US Representative (2000), US Senator (2002-2008) from Illinois, then as candidate for the US presidency (2007).

The whole topic of Black racialist politics has been difficult to approach in the US. White civil rights lawyers like Judson Miner, black civil rights attorneys, and others utilized by black organizing groups like the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and its well-known black radical action affiliate, The Black Panther Party, have stifled discussion of topics involving racial issues.

The Washington Post editorial policy of "politically correct" is shared by numerous other major newspapers and publishers. Fear of being financially ruined by black civil rights lawsuits has created a paranoia in America so severe that many whites and publishers in general do not discuss or criticize black politicians or government policies, even those which have become so lopsided as to favor blacks and ethnics and to discriminate against whites.

Barack Obama has been transparent about his black focus in community organizing and in politics. On his way to NYC's Columbia University, Obama said, "I was trying to raise myself up to be a black man in America." Later at Harvard Law School Obama described himself as a "stand-in" for all the progress that had been made for Afro-Americans in America.

There may be books and pamphlets on building Black political power bases in America, more likely to be read and available to other blacks. But there are Black political strategies. Clinton and the Democrats dissuaded Obama from challenging IL former Black Panther House of Representative incumbent Bobby Rush in 1999 for the 2000 term. Bobby Rush's son was murdered in a street shooting in October, 1999. Obama lost in 2000.

Obama became more careful running against Black political candidates. In 2002, Obama waited for Carol Mosley Braun to decide if she would run for her former IL US Senator seat, before actively campaigning.

In her previous US Senate victory in IL, Braun proved it was possible for an Afro-American to win statewide as long as there were at least 2 white candidates to split the white vote.

As Obama described it: "Our bases overlapped so much - not just that she was Afro-American, but that she came out of the progressive wing of the (sic, Democratic) party...and our donor bases would have been fairly similar. So it would have been difficult, I think, to mobilize the entire coalition that was required for me to run." Obama knew he needed liberal white contributions and votes to win.

If Braun had run in 2002, he would have been unable to run for the Senate. Obama said, "I would probably have stepped out of politics for a while".

Obama's voice, appearance, and Harvard Law School affiliation were considered well-suited to attract white voters. Afro-American political commentator Debra Dickerson said "We'd probably like it better if he talked like Jesse Jackson, but ya'll wouldn't".

Divide and conquer is an old political strategy. But traditionally such political strategies are used by Democrats vs. Republicans or same party supporters of controversial non-racial issues like taxes. Black racialist politics supported by the politics of black race-based lawsuits, seemingly the legacy of William Jefferson Clinton and the Democratic Party, have effectively denied First Amendment rights to free speech, and have forever changed American politics.

Graphic: Gerrymander, in The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy.

Other references: The Washington Post, The Boston,

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