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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Presidential Race Seeped In Racism

In one week, the U.S. will elect a president to lead it for the next four years. In the best of worlds, we would be able to predict who that person might be with a degree of certainty and margin of error. But this has not been the case for recent U.S. elections. Lately, they have always been “too close to call.” The fiasco of the Bush V Gore, Florida re-count and the Supreme Court intervention in 2000 to settle on a winner is the perfect example. Who doesn’t remember the faulty punchcard voting machines, hanging chads, missing ballots?

This is the state of affairs in the U.S. The fact that elections are becoming too close to call is a reflection of the dangerous polarization among people, fueled by the animosity of the candidates and relentless negative campaign ad attacks. In some cases, we are engulfed in racism as a nation whether we admit it or not.

In the U.S., the words “liberal” and “conservative” are now used as insults from one group towards the other. For Republicans, especially the ultra conservative among them, everything they don’t approve of falls under the “liberal” label. This ranges from homosexuality to abortion, media that don’t serve as their mouthpiece and Democrats in general. After they could not prevent Barack Obama from becoming the first black president, they made it their business to derail him and his administration from achieving much of what they could have. They constantly questioned his birthplace and documents as if they are pre-requisites for his undeniable citizenship and patriotism. They challenged his decisions on a regular basis. They blocked his proposals in Congress every time they could, punishing none other than the average American, young students, and fresh graduates. They even named his health care overhaul plan Obamacare and attacked that too although it is not much different from what they are proposing. Still, he achieved a lot more than his predecessor did and was able to move the country forward despite the heavy toll his administration inherited from George W. Bush’s bloody war-mongering administration and its icons.

Much work still needs to be done and, according to polls, there is no doubt in the mind of about half eligible voters that President Obama is the right man for the job.

Under the loud campaigning noise, the bickering seems to be taking place over nonsensical issues while the essence of the problems are not tackled. Romney attacks Obama’s economic policy and job creation plans but has no concrete blueprint to put forth. He is presenting a lot of talk but no substance to convince anyone that he can change things around. The U.S. saw what eight years of Republicans gave them: Wars, debt and worldwide disrespect. Those who will vote for Romney are either die-hard Republicans who will vote the party no matter who is in the ticket or those who don’t want to see Obama as President. The Obama voters are more convinced and supportive of their candidate despite the many problems they want Obama to tackle in a new term.

My sense is that, no matter who is elected President, the real issues will never be resolved in this atmosphere of distrust and divisiveness which leads to nowhere but violence, verbal or physical. Depending on the November 6 results, the days after the elections can be dangerous and no one should discount a strong reaction (peaceful or violent) of any kind.

The question now is, who will monitor our elections and ensure they are fair and honest? How do we prevent a repeat of the 2000 fiasco? Voting machines problems abound and confusion over the ballots in some states. Not to mention the reports of possible rigging and voter fraud in parts of the nation. There are plenty of reasons for dissent and anger looming ahead of the November 6 vote.

I will proudly practice my right to vote hoping that my vote will be counted and my voice will count in the big scheme of things. But, I won’t be surprised no matter what the results and their ensuing repercussions are. This country has changed and has given up its core values a long time ago. Racism is still alive here although no one wants to admit to being a racist. So, you end up with average Americans who depend mainly on what they hear on hateful right wing talk radio and repeat it in social gatherings. They are our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers, our family members, our doctors, our teachers, our grocers, our taxi drivers, and they are racist.

The resident of the White House in the next four years needs to take a good look at our nation and the prejudice imbibed in our culture. It is more dangerous than any war we have waged and will ever wage. Its consequences are a lot more damaging because they are slowly devouring the core of our society as some of us watch silently while others remain in denial of their own hatred and racism.

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