On November 7 We Go Back to Pretending


2008 was a traumatic year for me. During that election season the veneer of civility was ripped off American politics and society. Republicans and Democrats showcased our worst fears to the world. As a brown person in a black and white polarized political sphere, I wanted to run and hide.

Conservatives were afraid that with a black president their interests would not be represented.

Liberals were afraid that another election would be stolen by the electoral college.

Perhaps there is no way to encourage a true democracy in a two party system. Maybe the only outcome is partisanship.

In our fear, we turned on each other. There’s a reason it’s called the White House some t-shirts said. Obama supporters were accused of resorting to race to end any argument. Social media made it worse: people, my friends, on Facebook and Twitter revealed how deep the divide was. We held our collective breath.

When the young Obama family addressed the nation from Grant Park, I gave a sigh of relief. The vitriol was over. He proved that yes, a determined group of people could make voting history. We all went back to our daily lives, smiling, pretending as though the racial, social, and fiscal concerns we had painted onto the two candidates had vanished.

Reading my Twitter stream in 2012, I’m in  time warp. Only this time the rhetoric has – incredibly – increased in viciousness. What’s our boy president done today? Someone from a self-identified rightist group tweeted. I’ll spare your our exchange. The fact that the person used ‘boy’ a term with historical significance dating back to slavery and lasting into the Jim Crow era to describe a sitting president confirmed for me that we are not finished with the underlying issues of the first presidential campaign.

I don’t mind talking about issues — I want to talk about the issues. Let’s talk about drone strikes or bailing out banks or why Guantanamo is still open.

Let’s stop insulting one another. Because like or not, whether it’s Romney or Obama on November 6th, on Wednesday, November 7th, we all still have to live together.


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Reader Comments

  1. Dariel Raye

    Wonderfully incisive post, Mohana. The issues are so entrenched and insidious, I wouldn’t dare tackle them here, but this entire situation has been disheartening, enlightening, and simply…sad. As usual, one step forward is accompanied by an insurmountable backlash.

  2. Stephen Woodfin

    I couldn’t agree more. I have received some of the most virulent hate political emails I have ever seen in the last few days. I so wish we could set aside our prejudices and pull together to address the grave issues that confront us. After all, we are all in this together.

  3. Carlos

    The underlying issues are not really stemming from the first Presidential Campaign of 2008 they are stemming from the “very first Presidential Campaign” of the founding of the US as a country with it’s own identity. When a country, race, or person identifies themselves with an ideal of all men being created equal, what is not understood but implied is that they must actually live by their word.

    Until the US actually addresses it’s history, and stops dismissing affirmative action and the “Good Ol’ Boy” network we are doomed to live in the 21st century, with an 18th century inner core belief system.

  4. Jack Durish

    Politics in America has never been for the faint of heart. It is a rough and tumble game wherein ideas vie for ascendancy. To those of us who would cling to Constitutional guarantees of limited government, progressivism has been in the ascendancy far too long. We have compromised our principles far too often. Being “reasonable” in negotiating with a progressive is like attempting to be reasonable with a spouse in a divorce; it becomes two versus one. You and the progressive versus you. If you think that 2008 was bad, find a foxhole quickly.

    Now, as to your worry that this is a black vs white issue. That is a canard foisted on the witless to vilify the conservatives. Remember, Obama is of both black and white parentage. I disagree with his white half just as much as his black half. In other words, race has noting to do with it. Period.

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