An exploration of the relationship between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, proving to be salutary reading for anyone who still believes that we live in a post-racial society.
Recent events in South Carolina, Missouri, Florida, and elsewhere would suggest that we’re going backward when it comes to matters of race and ethnicity. Against this backdrop, the Republican mainstream in particular has made hay of white resentment over supposed favoritism, in the form of affirmative action and other measures, meant to “add economic stability to the...basic rights for African Americans (and poor whites),” as MSNBC correspondent Reid observes. Against this divided politics, it’s small wonder that “Democrats are the only ball game” for African-Americans, the product of a generational shift that began with Lyndon Johnson’s civil rights programs of the 1960s, which he recognized would drive Southern voters into the arms of a welcoming GOP. Before Johnson, writes the author, only Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal had done much to “lift large swaths of African Americans out of despair,” further disposing African-American voters to the Democratic cause. All that said, as Reid shows, Obama, a beneficiary of both Democratic-backed civil rights measures and of African-American votes, has seemingly been strangely reluctant to engage in discussions of race. A case in point, writes the author, is the upswelling of GOP efforts to strengthen voter ID requirements, “just one weapon Republican state legislatures and governors could use against minority voters.” Obama offered only modest assurances that if voters wished to vote, they would find ways to prevail. Reid’s book slightly precedes a shift in Obama’s tone following the Charleston shootings, so some of her conclusions may require modest updating, but her point remains important: the racial divide persists, and Clinton, the presumptive Democratic candidate in 2016, will have to court African-American voters while delicately maintaining some distance from Obama in the eyes of white voters.
Provocative and well-argued with plenty of clues on what to watch for in the coming presidential race.