At the beginning of last month – Black History Month – President Obama released a campaign video announcing the launch of African-Americans for Obama. In the two minute call to action, President Obama launched the campaign initiative seeking the support of African American voters based solely on one characteristic: the fact they are African American.
Not only is this video a transparent attempt hold onto the roughly 95% of African-American voters who pulled the lever for him in the 2008 presidential election, it also shows a fundamental lack of respect for the very demographic he’s trying to target.
Race is an outside factor. It is a characteristic over which nobody has any control, and it binds each person to nothing other than superficial appearance. Race makes no difference in logic, thought, idea, capability, stance or beliefs. It is simply the color of one’s skin or the country in which one’s ancestors were born.
In this sense, President Obama’s racially-based appeal is completely different than an appeal to other groups of individuals – a common strategy employed by politicians.
Movements, organizations, religions – any kind of associations – bind themselves together based on one or more similar beliefs. The Catholic Church, for example, or associations of gun owners identify themselves by the principles held by their organization. They are united by free will, by a voluntary shared belief, and by choice.
By targeting groups of individuals, politicians merely take advantage of the opportunity to support an idea or a principle en masse, through policy instead of targeting voters one by one. They are, essentially, killing multiple birds with one stone, and this makes sense.
This same theory does not hold true for President Obama’s video. By using race as the primary reason to support his campaign for a second term, President Obama’s video shows a fundamental lack of respect for the idea that each person in our country is endowed with the privilege, responsibility and right to think for him or herself.
Instead, President Obama’s video lumps together all African-American voters and insults the intelligence of each individual who is not bound by skin color, but is independent in thought and belief.
The blatant use of race in this video shows President Obama using his words, not his record, to garner votes. Moreover, it shows his willingness to stoop to any level to achieve his goal – even by exploiting the very demographic whose support he is seeking.
A campaign focused on false promises and empty rhetoric while ignoring his record in the Illinois State Senate may have secured the 2008 presidential election for Obama, but voters should not be fooled again.
This initiative proves that President Obama has not changed his campaign tactics. Instead, he continues to base his campaign on words instead of actions, on division instead of unity, on abstract rhetoric instead of substance, and on racial appeals instead of policy arguments.