Ethnic politics have always been a facet of American politics. But recently the frightened Obama reelection campaign seems to be going to unusual lengths to appeal overtly to voters by virtue of Obama’s race — a sort of retrograde tribalism that Obama in 2004 promised that we would transcend.
What are we to make of the coach of the Chicago Bears, Lovie Smith, announcing on acampaign video, “I have the president’s back and it’s left up to us, as African Americans, to show that we have his back. Also join African Americans for PresidentObama today.” Does Coach Smith mean that “as African Americans” one has a duty to support the president by virtue of his race rather than his politics alone, or his politics as they relate to the welfare of African Americans? Are those African Americans who oppose Obama, then, doing so “not as African Americans”? Are whites and Hispanics who support Obama doing so because he is also half-white or as “not African Americans”?