Shawn Maxam on why our obsession with winners and losers in politics has negative consequences for all of us.
Ed Schultz and Chris Matthews nearly had heart attacks on MSNBC last night after the first presidential debate because President Obama didn’t attack Mitt Romney. Four years later and even the white liberal media doesn’t understand how mindful President Barack Hussein Obama has to be as a Black man about America’s perception of him.
The president has been incredibly calm and rational through his tenure as a presidential candidate and as POTUS and he has still had his legitimacy as a citizen questioned (the birther phenomenon), accusations of him being a secret Muslim (as if being an practitioner of Islam automatically equates to terrorism) and this belief that he wants to socialize every aspect of America. He is aware of the implicit and unacknowledged fear of a Black man being the leader of the free world. Of course white political pundits aren’t aware of this duality or double consciousness as termed by W.E.B. Du Bois.
This “two-ness” of being African and as well as American leads to psycho-social tensions in which individuals or groups are forced into identifying themselves into two social worlds and viewing themselves as insider and outsider refers to their split consciousness and disadvantageous social position. Having such consciousness can harm the psyche of these black people as this dual existence is damaging to their sense of morality. “Double consciousnesses,” according to Du Bois, means a “sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others in the mirror.” Du Bois views the history of the American Negro is the history of this strife,—this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. -via Wikipedia
He can’t be aggressive or temperamental because he will be accused of being an angry Black man. I find it perplexing that Mitt constantly interrupting and not being respectful of moderator Jim Lehrer is interpreted as strength and confidence. This is the traditional notion of masculinity that is still celebrated in the media and the 24 hour news cycle.
Were the debates boring? In my opinion – yes they were. But our expectation is that presidential debates should be entertaining with “gotcha” one liners, zingers and soundbites. Basically we prefer style over substance which is ridiculously ass-backwards. But when you are the first Black president, style and how you present yourself to a still very race-conscious (and in many regions racist) country is crucial. Getting loud and pushy just won’t be effective.
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