Isaac Bailey is a black columnist for the Myrtle Beach Sun-Times, and he takes to Politico Magazine to give us yet another hot take on why Obama is the one who has to fix racism of Trumpmerica.
This task can’t be left to pundits, academic experts or even preachers, rabbis and imams—particularly as long as Trump continues to tap into the darkest recesses of people’s souls. Destructive groupthink can overcome even the most sincere efforts of community leaders. It cannot be left up to other 2016 presidential candidates, either. They’re far too busy trying to win the White House to be healers.
There is only one person who can unite the country again, and he works in the White House. Yes, President Barack Obama—ironically, the man who is the personification of the fear Trump is exploiting—is the one in the best position to quell the anger being stirred up.
This is not something the president can do from the Oval Office, or from a stage. What he needs to do is use the power of the office in a different way, one that matches the ruthless effectiveness of a demagogue with a private jet. Obama needs to go on a listening tour of white America—to connect, in person, with Americans he has either been unable or unwilling to reach during his seven years in office.
I know the difficulties of such outreach, and also its unique payoff. I‘m a black man who has spent the past decade listening to white Southern conservatives—people who many assume would hate me. Because of that, I’ve been able to get through to people others wouldn’t dare try to reach. I have the battle scars and rare friendships to prove it, including one with a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans who may help me in a criminal-justice reform push.
The conventional wisdom might say the current U.S. president should visit places like Chicago and Ferguson, where decades-long racial disparities are at the heart of recent bouts of unrest. Or that he should visit San Bernardino and offer condolences in person (which he did before going on vacation), as he’s done so many times after so many mass shootings. Or maybe Detroit, a city still struggling even after a massive bailout saved the domestic auto industry.
I say, instead, he should first go to places like Conway, South Carolina, where a Democratic president has nothing to gain, a place whose residents daily drive by an electric plant that is now empty in part because of environmental policies that may indeed be necessary to save the planet but hurt real people in real time, nonetheless.
Or maybe he can map out a path along the Appalachian Trail and visit cities and small towns full of people who believe they’ve been left out of the American dream and forced into a nightmare they are convinced they can survive only by clinging to their God and their guns, which is why they balk at the emergence of legalized same-sex marriage and talk of gun control, not because they hate—even if the words they sometimes use sound hateful—but because they still need something to call their own.
Let them see their president. Let them speak directly to their president. Let them shout, cuss, fuss and unload if that’s what they need to do. Because no matter how you slice it, the country they’ve long known is dying, and a new one is taking shape. Obama’s presence in the White House, while heartening to many, is the tip of the spear to those fretful about what’s to come.
To Mr. Bailey, who no doubt has good intentions, and in a perfect world would have a point, I say this:
After seven years of this, what on God's green Earth makes you think angry white America wants to listen to our President?
You say the President needs to go places where he has nothing to gain. I say that if there was something to gain, to educate people, to assure people, to help people, these folks would not accept any of that. All they know is hatred, anger and fear, and pablum like this enables that hatred, anger and fear.
Worse, it blames this conscious decision by racist assholes on the President, and absolves them of the responsibility of their actions. It's infantile and stupid. These folks don't like same-sex marriage being the law of the land? I can understand that, but guess what? They still have to follow it.
What these people want is to bully, threaten, and even kill their way into having "their" country back. I got news for them, it's our country collectively, not yours alone.
No, we don't have to listen to racist cracker assholes. The country has moved past them. They're sad and angry and hateful they've been left behind?
Screw em. I have better things to do than worry about the tender feelings of racist idiots.
Look, here in Kentucky, we just had an election where these same people rejected health care for their families for tens of thousands of people. Our governor just disenfranchised tens of thousands more voters and made sure thousands more would continue to earn just $7.25 an hour. They voted against Obama, plain and simple.