Democratic Convention is a referendum on race relations

I’m sure the convention will be quite a spectacle, and that’s fine. Lots of choreographed folks making lots of choreographed speeches. The Democratic Convention – just as the Republican Convention – is all about the triumph of image over substance. It’s about the way politics is done today.

The message due to be delivered throughout the four-day Democratic Convention is one of UNITY. I put the word in caps because this is how important the Democrats say the message is. Everyone must see that despite the buckets of blood that were spilled during the primaries – and that is still being mopped up off the campaign floor – we Democrats are still one big happy family that will come together in love and harmony at the end of the day. Nevermind the rabid Hillary protesters foaming at the mouth outside the gates brandishing signs bearing the name of their ravaged savior like pitchforks. Soon as they get their UNITY shots they’ll be just fine.

Well, maybe not. But that’s the image that the Democrats so much want to be projected because image trumps substance just about every time these days. Those eggheads who persist in knowing what the truth of the matter is will always be too late to the party because by the time they finish their research and consider themselves ready to deliver an informed verdict based on the facts, the party will already be a good 10 images down the road and nobody will be paying any attention. Because nobody reads anymore and nobody has enough time to pay attention to those pesky details surrounding the truth of a situation. Just give ’em the outline and let somebody else worry about the body that’s missing.

Sad but true.

So when Thursday evening comes and Barack Obama rises up larger than life to deliver yet another stem-winding speech guaranteed to make the crowds scream  and sweat yet again with brain-throbbing passion (not that it will really matter what he says because the crowds will scream and sweat even if he repeats the words ‘hot biscuits and molasses over and over), the image delivered will be that of Barack Obama and UNITY slow-dancing passionately before an adoring crowd of thousands.

The truth? The convention will not likely change one single vote. This is all about splashing the best possible paint job over a splintered house. And if Barack Obama doesn’t win this presidential race against what even the blind can see is a ridiculously, embarrassingly flawed candidate who can’t even light a spark of enthusiasm amidst the dry tender of the most desperate Republican diehards, it will have absolutely nothing to do with what did or did not go right at the Democratic Convention. It will have everything to do with the color of Barack Obama’s skin.

Barack in the race against race

Barack in the race against race

I once heard Michelle Obama say that the question is not whether Obama is ready to lead the nation, but whether the nation is ready to be led by Obama. To me, that has always stood alone as one of the truest things ever said throughout this historic campaign. This election is a referendum on race relations in America. Either we’re ready for the next step or we’re not. Because if Obama were a white man he would be so far ahead of McCain in the polls that McCain would have to place a call to the future just to get a glimpse of how far behind he was.

But it is what it is, and we shall see how it all plays out. Because in the end it will not be about the convention, or about Joe Biden as his choice for VP, or about anything else except that one thing that is so obvious nobody wants to talk about it except in quick passing or in hushed tones. Barack may be mixed-race on  paper, but in America that equals black. Of course it’s not fair, especially not to his white mother and white grandparents who raised him. But it is what it is, and Barack damned sure knows it and so should you.

Let the games begin…


~ by Keith A. Owens on August 26, 2008.

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