Not only did white Democratic voters prove willing to support a black candidate [in 2004]; they overperformed in their repudiation of naked electoral racism, electing Obama with a higher percentage of white votes than either Kerry or Gore earned.Overperformed in their repudiation... a fascinating phrase. Harris-Perry, applying some standard political science tests and failing to detect racism, says "electoral racism cannot be reduced solely to its most egregious, explicit form. It has proved more enduring and baffling than these results can capture." So, she posits another form of racism: "the tendency of white liberals to hold African-American leaders to a higher standard than their white counterparts."
What is her measure of this form of racism? The fact that Democrats kept supporting Bill Clinton, even though he "failed to pass any kind of meaningful healthcare reform whatsoever, signed onto "don’t ask, don’t tell,” and supported "welfare 'reform.'" But a lot of Democrats, myself included, like the moderate approach, the "triangulation." And, of course, the economy was good back then. Moreover, Obama hasn't gone up for reelection yet. You can't compare the final vote for Clinton in 1996 to the pre-election grousing about Obama.
I believe much of [the decline in support for Obama] can be attributed to [white Americans'] disappointment that choosing a black man for president did not prove to be salvific for them or the nation.Salvific... a great word. Let's put it together with that fascinating phrase overperformed in their repudiation. Now, tell me what that says about racial politics in America. There is something about race there, whether you want to deploy the powerful word racism or not. The points seems to be, even in the left-wing Nation, that people loaded race into their positive feelings for Obama, and now they have a special race-based disappointment.
But how do we disentangle this insidious new form of racism from American politics? Obama himself stoked delusions of salvation. What would it look like to just stop overperforming the repudiation of racism?