There's a joke I heard long ago, and it's stuck with me.
Q: What do you call a black doctor?
A: A nigger.
There's a bitter truth in that joke, a truth only dark humor can ferret out. No matter what achievements an African American attains, he will, in the end, be only a nigger. Generations of poor whites have consoled themselves with the thought that, however dire their straits, at least they were better than them, even if they lived in Beverly Hills. Their white skin made them a superior race. And, hell, that black doctor probably got his degree due to affirmative action. I could be a doctor too if I was getting all that free cash.
I left New York City in 1986, before David Dinkins was elected its first black mayor. Observing from afar in Los Angeles, I was saddened but not shocked that Mayor Dinkins was similarly assailed as an "affirmative action hire". His mayoralty was erased from the record, much like a hated pharaoh in ancient Egypt.
My greatest fear when Barack Obama was elected president was that he would be Dinkinized. That he would be denigrated (pun intended) as another feckless black man who attained an office which he didn't deserve.
Of course, the past 7 years have been a record of Pres. Obama filleting his naysayers with a smile and a list of accomplishments.
But if you thought that his opposition wouldn't try one last time to put him in his place, you hadn't been paying attention.
News came out this week that Senate Republicans won't so much as interview any nominee the president puts forth to fill Justice Antonin Scalia's seat. (Indeed, according to reports, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, if he in fact remains majority leader in the next Congress, might extend that boycott should either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders win the presidency in November.)
Oh, LL, area centrists will say, this is just power politics. It has nothing to do with race.
Again, if you think that, you haven't been paying attention.
Barack Obama is on track to leave office as the most consequential president since Pres. Roosevelt in the 1940s. Love him or hate him, he has refashioned the idea of what America is. And those who hate him do so with a passion for doing just that. Merely by his presence he has shoved white America's demographic decline in its face. And many in white America are desperate for someone, anyone, to show him who he really is: nothing but a nigger.
If you think that the Senate GOP would have done this to a President Hillary Clinton had she won in 2008, you're sorely mistaken. Even though a woman—and a Clinton—her whiteness would have won her at least a hearing. Only because Barack Obama is black can Sen. McConnell and his pranksters attempt this gambit. This is nothing other than an attempt to finally, in some way, erase Barack Obama's presidency. To deny him the legitimacy and prerogatives which the 43 previous presidents were afforded.
I'm backing Hillary Clinton in the primaries. I'm no great fan of Bernie Sanders. But I've for the most part stayed out of the Hillary / Bernie fights, partly because they're tiring, but mostly because of this: No Republican can be allowed to occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. after Barack Obama leaves it. The stakes are too high. Sen. Sanders would be a problematic candidate for me. But if he wins the nomination, I will both contribute to him and work for him. In this election I'm not voting out of hope, as I did in 2008 and 2012. I'm voting out of sheer desperation. This country is on a precipice not seen since 1860. This election will decide whether or not there's a second Civil War. The GOP has spent 40 years othering half of America. Those chickens are coming home to roost.
One thing I will not do is allow the GOP to turn Barack Obama into David Dinkins. Not that they can; but even the attempt is galling. For Obamacrats, that's what 2016 means. A vote for either Democrat is to vote to keep Barack Obama's flame alive. Staying home out of pique or purity is to condemn yourself and your country to a horror.
If you don't think this is true, well, say it with me: You haven't been paying attention.