Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Campaigning for Obama Not Easy 

I remember about a year ago when one of my relatives--a well-placed Democratic insider--told me he was rooting for (and to some degree prognosticating) Obama to win the nomination.  As I recall, my response was something along the lines of, "You're out of your mind!  How do you think a racist country like the U.S. is going to choose a black nominee?"  I pointed to the defeat of Harold Ford in Tennessee, in which Corker's racist ads had clearly worked--that race, I claimed, bucked the general trend of the Dem wave and Dem candidates outperforming their poll numbers in various races.

Anyway, I must have gone on to become blinded by hope, because I was surprised to find myself surprised at this WaPo article:

The contrast between the large, adoring crowds Obama draws at public events and the gritty street-level work to win votes is stark. The candidate is largely insulated from the mean-spiritedness that some of his foot soldiers deal with away from the media spotlight.

Victoria Switzer, a retired social studies teacher, was on phone-bank duty one night during the Pennsylvania primary campaign. One night was all she could take: "It wasn't pretty." She made 60 calls to prospective voters in Susquehanna County, her home county, which is 98 percent white. The responses were dispiriting. One caller, Switzer remembers, said he couldn't possibly vote for Obama and concluded: "Hang that darky from a tree!"

Documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy, the daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy, said she, too, came across "a lot of racism" when campaigning for Obama in Pennsylvania. One Pittsburgh union organizer told her he would not vote for Obama because he is black, and a white voter, she said, offered this frank reason for not backing Obama: "White people look out for white people, and black people look out for black people."

It goes on.


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