|Well, I still say FORWARD
is the wrong direction.
After a long, hard fought political campaign, those who win understandably savor their victory. Conversely, those who lose often suffer the indignity of perennial post mortems. It is to be expected, then, that those who supported President Barack Obama are elated. Unfortunately, some conservatives who supported Mitt Romney have been guilty of racially hostile remarks. It is such an attitude that contributed to the Republican defeat.
The election of Obama to a second term reinforces the concept that race will not be a barrier to high public office. That is good reason for blacks to celebrate. Some years ago many Americans believed that no Catholic should be president. They thought if a Catholic were elected, that would change the seat of power from the nation’s capital to the Vatican.
Al Smith, a popular New York politician and a prominent Catholic layman, decided to challenge that belief. In 1928, he won the Democratic nomination for president but he lost the race to Herbert Hoover. It was not until 1960, 32 years later, that another prominent Catholic, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, ran for president and won. He demonstrated that the fear of papal supremacy was a mere fantasy.
However, it is important to note that Catholics still celebrate the memory of the man who first challenged the discriminatory prohibition. Last month, the Alfred E. Smith Foundation celebrated its 67th annual event at the Waldorf Astoria. Special guests were President Obama and Gov. Romney. It was a formal white tie and tails affair.
While Al Smith had an outstanding career in public service — he was elected governor three times — he is remembered most for his opposition to religious discrimination. The foundation was established after he died in 1944, so that people would always remember his efforts to expand opportunities for Catholics. How can it be unreasonable for African Americans to be elated over the effect of Obama’s recent success in dismantling racial discrimination in the nation?
The greatest insult is that blacks voted for Obama only because he is black. That implies both that Obama is incompetent and incapable of fulfilling his presidential duties and that black citizens are unable to vote mindfully to secure their best interests. Neither assertion is valid.
The first claim is patently absurd. Obama is the only black president for whom African Americans have ever been able to vote. Prior to Obama every presidential candidate has been white, yet blacks still voted. In 1960 when John F. Kennedy ran against Richard Nixon, a Republican, Nixon tallied 32 percent of the black vote. However, when Barry Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act in the next election, Republicans got only 6 percent of the black vote. Lyndon Johnson received 94 percent of the black vote. That is one point higher than the 93 percent for Obama in 2012 in the battleground states.
Clearly, African Americans are aware of issues of importance to them and they vote accordingly. Most blacks would be unlikely to vote for someone with the views of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas just because he’s black.
Anyone with doubts about President Obama’s competence need merely review the effectiveness of his campaign strategy. Although Romney was supposed to have keen analytical skills that were developed in the business world, his plan failed. Both Obama and Romney had determined that the results in nine swing states would decide the outcome of the election. On Election Day, Romney firmly believed that in accordance with his staff’s calculations he had won, when in fact only one of the key states, North Carolina, went Republican.
It is a wonder how Romney could have so miscalculated the outcome in eight swing states. At any rate, Obama got it right and demonstrated superior competence in an important aspect of the presidency. Blacks, Latinos and Asians, as well as liberated whites were wise to vote for the stronger and more competent candidate.