Ralph Nader had this to say about Obama or watch him say it here:
"There's only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He's half African-American… I haven't heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What's keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn't want to appear like Jesse Jackson?"Let me get this out of the way first: Obama has in fact tried hard to run as the non-Black, Black candidate, he has purposely stayed away from so-called Black issues/venues, and he has failed to make any meaningful effort to talk about poverty and poverty-related issues, even in the liberal way that John Edwards did. I believe these are the things that Nader means when he says Obama is ‘talking white’. However, the notion of ‘talking white’ is troubling in a number of ways.
"...the number one thing that a black American politician aspiring to the presidency should be is to candidly describe the plight of the poor…and have a very detailed platform about how the poor is going to be defended…Haven't heard a thing."
"He wants to show that he is not...another politically threatening African-American politician…He wants to appeal to white guilt. You appeal to white guilt not by coming on as black is beautiful, black is powerful. Basically he's coming on as someone who is not going to threaten the white power structure, whether it's corporate or whether it's simply oligarchic. And they love it. Whites just eat it up."
First, to accuse a black person of engaging in any verb (dancing, talking, acting) in a ‘white’ way, is to suggest something that has deeply negative connotations in the Black community that I don’t think Nader is fully aware of. His use of the term, which I believe was meant to be controversial, will do far more to overshadow his mainly valid criticisms of Obama, than anything else.
More importantly, ‘talking white’ implies that predatory lending, payday loans, asbestos, lead and poverty are ‘Black’ issues. The things Nader is outlining are nothing more than forms of exploitation aimed at those who are politically and economically vulnerable. IN other words, these are class issues, not 'Black' issues. Race is not the primary factor in any of those issues although obviously, like most social maladys, blacks, the poor and people of color in general are affected by them at higher rates. Class. Got that Nader? Use some next time.
Obama isn’t ‘talking white’ by ignoring the issues of the poor, he is ‘talking corporate.’ Obama ought to be addressing those issues as American issues, and it would seem to fit in perfectly with his crafted image as the ‘post-race’ candidate (whatever the hell that means). Obama is a liberal politician, which by definition means he can only offer small, easily reversible reforms to the system. That he isn't even promising to reform these more egregious forms of exploitation should tell you alot about the 'change' that candidate of 'change' is bringing. I have to agree with Nader in the sense that having a black president oversee our exploitation seems to be the only change he's offering.
This election is a circus, and this system is organized crime. The crime heads change, or kill each other off, bet the rackets remain the same.
Update: I revised the last 2 paragraphs.
Labels: Barack Obama, Class, Election, Ralph Nader