Racism among future kings can only lead to no good.
Like clockwork, the comments started, no more than a few minutes after businesswoman B.J. Fletcher announced plans to run against incumbent Christopher Pike for a seat on the Albany City Commission.
Amid the shout-outs of support, some among the local bloggerati started weighing Fletcher’s chances in the Nov. 5 municipal election. Essentially, here was the gist of their conversation: What’s the black-white population split in Ward III?
Now, I’m neither so naive nor so stupid that I don’t realize how big an issue race is when it comes to Albany elections. (Or Albany business or Albany government or Albany entertainment or Albany culture or Albany education or Albany just walking around.)
But to take one particular political race and immediately diminish it to the number of black voters vs. the number of white voters is both ill-conceived and demeaning. Those who do so are guilty of belittling voters of all races who carefully weigh the qualifications of the candidates before deciding which to support.
These are some of the same people who claim President Obama won two terms in office because “all the blacks in this country voted for him just because he is black.” A couple of points: If Obama had gotten 100 percent of this country’s black vote (which he didn’t) and no other support, he would have lost in 2008 and 2012. Monumentally.
Republicans, apparently lured into thinking that George Bush’s two terms proved that America would continue to accept any level of incompetence as long as the status quo remained pretty much intact, lost to Obama both times because they put up two exceptionally bad candidates. The Karl Rove/GOP strategy of throwing as much money at a national candidate as possible and then slinging as much mud at his opponent as possible to see what sticks is a failed plan that will continue to fail until Republicans find a qualified candidate.
Certainly we’ve proved by re-electing over and over some of the worst politicians — black and white — in the history of local politics that race is indeed a factor when we go to the ballot box around here. But in a country — and especially in a region — that has yet to recover from the economic calamity brought on primarily by the white-collar crooks who are still laughing, unfazed by all the failed new regulations designed to keep them from doing so, all the way to their bank vaults, it’s hard to imagine anyone shallow enough to allow skin hue to determine which candidate best represents his or her interests.
I have a sneaking suspicion commenters who make such statements about “those people” who use race as a determining political factor are actually offering insight into the way they choose which candidates to support. Which begs the question: What right do you have to criticize someone else for doing the same thing you do?
As one who takes this profession and its requirements seriously, I plan to cover the campaign between Pike and Fletcher — and between Ivey Hines and Bobby Coleman and any other candidates who might surface — as fairly as possible. I think I know enough about the candidates to surmise that when they start those campaigns, they’re going to appeal to all voters in their wards. They’re not, I’m willing to bet, going to print up signs that proclaim “Vote for Me, I’m Black” or “Vote for Me, I’m the White Person.”
And I also am pretty confident there is a growing number of local voters that is going to look at the qualifications of the candidates and decide which one might best address their interests. And they’re going to vote for that person, no matter if his skin is black, white, yellow, red or any other hue.
Those who would do otherwise — those who would base their vote solely on skin color — not only demean the democratic process, they prove how truly ignorant they are.
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.