30 Issues: Romney, Obama and Race

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

30 Issues in 30 Days is our election year series on the important issues facing the country this election year. Today: Race as a factor in the election. Visit the 30 Issue home page for all the conversations. 

Open Prep: Questions, Articles, and Links to Get You Started

Key Questions:

  • How has having the first black president changed America?
  • To what extent does racism sway voters?
  • What does it mean that both parties emphasize the diversity of their membership?
  • What are your key questions on this topic? Post them below and get the conversation going!


    Tricia Rose, professor of Africana Studies at Brown University and author of The Hip Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip Hop-And Why It Matters.


    Got a Follow Up?

    Each Friday we'll be following up on one of that week's issues. Got a particular follow-up question from this conversation? Comment below or tweet us. 

    Comments [44]

    ARCA Racing from USA

    Number up with population growth, Unemployment rate is at the lowest since the Inauguration.

    Still blaming GWB for Obamas failures?

    Jun. 30 2013 02:23 AM
    Amy from Manhattan

    On whether the economy has turned around, there's a difference btwn. making the U-turn & driving all the way back to where you made the wrong turn in the 1st place.

    Oct. 25 2012 02:24 AM


    "The economy HAS turned around?

    Have the number of unemployed people gone down?

    -Number up with population growth, Unemployment rate is at the lowest since the Inauguration.

    Still blaming GWB for Obamas failures?

    Fewer people on foodstamps?
    -Food Stamp policy is a measure of income distribution, not economic health. You want fewer people on food stamps, pay the ones that do work more.

    Price of gas gone down?
    -Price of gas is a measure of demand. Higher prices implies greater demand which implies healthier economy...or do you imply something more nefarious?

    The financial rating of the US still at AAA rating?
    -The financial rating decline is THE TEA PARTY's fault. They made raising the debt ceiling a circus and brought on the ratings change.

    Debt gone down?
    GWB's last budget (FY2009) was $1.5T in deficit. Obama's deficits have brought that down to $1T. If the GOP would get off their hypocritical arses and pass some jobs spending, and get employment back to 6% we could erase another $700B from the deficit.

    At what point does Obama get the blame????
    Never when it comes to cleaning up the economic mess that eight years of stimulatory, trickle-down, under-regulated economic BS promulgated by Bush are concerned. Yes, Dubya and the GOP certainly do get STILL get the blame for problems that they caused and have done nothing to fix.

    The GOP do not deserve to get back to the White House if all they have done is stand on the brakes when the car is in drive. Why don't you try the accelerator.

    Oct. 24 2012 03:53 PM
    Adrienne from UWS

    I fully agree with Jerry Fields, (above).As well, I think the problem of of incarceration in our country is a real threat to our democracy. Brian, I'm a nice Jewish girl (girl 54?)from the upper west side working in the south Bronx, race is surely an issue but I see people working hard to do the best they can for their kids, food, clothing, education etc...I don't know how many people have time for this kind of contemplation. Also I do see a fair amount of child abuse and mental illness in the community. President Obama is doing more for poor communities than any president has maybe since FDR, if he uses the word "Middle Class" he means the poor too and yes it is more palatable, more people vote in the middle class. When there is a healthy middle class, there is less poverty. How do Af-Am people relate to the hundreds of immigrants from around the world (many here in the Bronx, many Africans). This is a MUCH larger picture than your guest describes, her ideas are antiquated, our world is getting smaller and smaller. Your guest doesn't help Obama at all 2 weeks before the election.

    Oct. 24 2012 12:57 PM
    Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

    fuva from harlemworld

    "(Apologies to this message board. In calling out Pretentious Ed, I inadvertently insulted more posters than intended. Sorry.)"

    How "ignant" of you.

    Oct. 24 2012 11:59 AM
    fuva from harlemworld

    (Apologies to this message board. In calling out Pretentious Ed, I inadvertently insulted more posters than intended. Sorry.)

    Oct. 24 2012 11:50 AM
    Elizabeth from Brooklyn

    I was interested in much of the conversation but very frustrated that this piece on race was so overwhelmingly focused on Obama's seemingly tepid approach to race as president. What about Romney and the Republicans? Is Pres. Obama really overly mild in comparison? Come on folks, let's keep perspective.

    Oct. 24 2012 11:49 AM
    sheila massey from washington heights / nyc

    I received an alarming email about potential election fraud.

    Mitt Romney's son, Tagg, has equity interest in voting machines being used in swing states. See following:

    "Mitt Romney's son Tagg Romney -- partnering with Mitt's top fundraiser from his 2008 campaign -- run an equity fund invested heavily in electronic voting machines in crucial swing-states.

    Their private equity fund, Solamere Group, has partnered with H.I.G. to buy a controlling chunk of Hart InterCivic, a company with voting machines in Colorado and Ohio. H.I.G. is the 11th-largest contributor to Mitt Romney’s campaign, and all but one of the company’s American directors have donated to Mitt Romney's campaign.

    In the run-up to the last Presidential election, officials uncovered "significant flaws" in Hart's voting machines. Importantly, Hart makes a printer component that can keep a paper record of votes, but it is not being mandated in these crucial swing-state elections."

    why is there no news coverage about this?

    The "FIX" is in. Mitt wins.

    Oct. 24 2012 11:44 AM
    Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

    fuva from harlemworld

    "Edward, you're ignant to what you're ignant of. As usual."


    fuva, Less hip-hop and more education.

    Oct. 24 2012 11:39 AM
    fuva from harlemworld

    Edward, you're ignant to what you're ignant of. As usual.

    Oct. 24 2012 11:32 AM
    Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

    Joe from Bayside,
    "BUT, we will still won't be free of prejudice as a national electorate until we elect a woman or black man as incompetent as George W. Bush."

    We already have. Barack H. Obama is president.

    Oct. 24 2012 11:27 AM
    Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

    fuva from harlemworld

    "Pretentious Edward: 3/4s of most things are crap. Including posters to this message board.
    (And I wonder what YOU know about hip-hop.)"

    I know that hip-hop is the successor to RAP and is as good as RAP.

    Black people have created GREAT music styles.

    Blues, Ragtime, Jazz, Reggae, Rock and Roll.

    rap/hip-hop are the lowpoint of music.
    rap/hip-hop are to Music as graffiti is to Art.

    Oct. 24 2012 11:23 AM
    Joe from Bayside

    When Obama was elected Senator of Illinois, he was the 1st male, African American Democrat elected to a state wide office since reconstruction. Edward Brooke was Republican; Carol Mosely Braun - a woman. Thurgood Marshall was the only man in that category who was appointed to a high level position. Condolleza Rice, Colin Powell and Clarence Thomas were all Republican. Since obama became president, we have Eric Holder appointed Atty. General and Deval Williams elected governor of Mass. but only since that election. My point is that Americans still fear the perception of the "angry black man". Remember, Obama is not the descendant of slaves so he might be viewed, even if only sub-conciously - differently. Biden was clumsy in his description of Obama during the '08 campaign as "well spoken...etc." but he was right on the electability of Obama. This is why recent attacks on Obama involve his father's dislike of colonialism as the source of the president's policies - a new kind of angry black man. Hopefully, Obama's election will break the ice for people like Corey Booker or any other black, male, Democrat with slave ancestors. BUT, we will still won't be free of prejudice as a national electorate until we elect a woman or black man as incompetent as George W. Bush.

    Oct. 24 2012 11:14 AM
    Jerry Fields

    I know, Brian, that you endeavor to have intelligent, well informed, objective people on your show, but one other quality is needed for the other qualities to be in play: common sense. This was the very thing your guest was lacking today.

    Had President Obama been an overtly pro-black candidate in 2008, he never would have been elected. If he had been an overtly pro-black President this last four years, he would not stand a chance of being re-elected now.

    Because he can not run for a third term, he has an opportunity during his second term to more publicly advocate in support of barriers to success within minority communities of all colors and nationalities.

    When your guest runs the President down at this moment in time, she hinders his support and makes it less likely, to some small extent, that he will be re-elected. She hurts, rather than helps, her own people.

    She also overlooked that Obama has worked behind the scenes to help open more community college and trade schools than any president has done in ages. He is walking the walk, helping poor people of all colors to acquire marketable skills and help themselves out of poverty.

    For all of the black history knowledge that your guest must possess, being a professor on the subject, in the future she would better serve her students and community were she to augmented her learning by enrolling in courses covering Political Science, and Reason and Logic.

    Oct. 24 2012 11:09 AM
    fuva from harlemworld

    Pretentious Edward: 3/4s of most things are crap. Including posters to this message board.
    (And I wonder what YOU know about hip-hop.)

    Oct. 24 2012 11:06 AM
    Amy from Manhattan

    Liz in Manhattan, have you thought about contacting the Obama campaign w/your story? It has the kind of specific info that it would be hard for the Romney campaign to refute.

    Oct. 24 2012 11:06 AM
    kikakiki from wall street

    For those who keep asking are we better off or keep touting "Obama: My Presidency Will Be 'A One-Term Proposition' If Economy Doesn't Turn In 3 Years" The one answer is he came in office to Massive Job Losses, every day new companies, corporations, entities closing, laying off or firing employees and no job growth and today there is job growth, the unemployment rates are decreasing, housing going back up, yes the economy is creeping upward, BUT it has stopped its downward slide and that in itself is a turn around. After Nov, with Pres. Obama firmly in his second and last term and the republicans no longer singularly involved with making him a one-term president with a little cooperation maybe we can move forward a little faster

    Oct. 24 2012 11:05 AM
    Judy from NJ

    Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

    I have been awake!
    There have ALWAYS been extreme and disrespectful images, comments etc of our politicians. My point is that I beleive it has become even more extreme and may I say accpeted by the mainstream. When Wal-marts, car mechanics and post-offices are exhibiting such material I think it is unfortunate.

    Oct. 24 2012 11:02 AM
    Amy from Manhattan

    There's a difference btwn. putting people in a situation where they *need* food stamps (a result of the financial collapse, which happened before Obama became president) & acting to make sure those who do need food stamps can *get* them, which Obama specifically did. Gingrich tried to make them sound like the same thing.

    Oct. 24 2012 11:01 AM
    Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

    fuva from harlemworld,

    You exemplify those who blame any failure to prejudice to ones race.

    An easy out, cop out.

    Oct. 24 2012 11:00 AM
    Seth Pickenstiff

    The economy has turned around. No doubt about it. It was headed down, down, down 4 years ago. And now it is headed up. Not very fast, but it is definitely headed up. I guess Edward will now vote for Obama.

    Oct. 24 2012 10:58 AM
    Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

    RAP is 3/4's Crap.

    Oct. 24 2012 10:57 AM
    Dorothy from Manhattan

    Another task force? One of the many criticisms of Obama is that he never does anything, just creates another task force.

    I don't know a LOT about the right wing but I seem to know more than most progressives/liberals. Many of these people are seriously crazy and are not reachable by logic. Many of your guests come off sounding naive with no real understanding of what the 21st century right wing is thinking.

    Oct. 24 2012 10:55 AM
    fuva from harlemworld

    But, why use the term "food stamps" at all? Why not "unemployment", or myriad other economic terms, especially when you know that a majority of your (base) base is Southern Strategy progeny? The use of that term is a loud dog whistle.
    This is basic math, and to deny it is cognitive dissonance.
    In addition to the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression, Obama has had to deal with more nonsense and hate than any other previous president BECAUSE of his race. The death threats broke the record long, long ago.
    I only hope that, once out of office, he writes about it, for our edification, and has learned valuable lessons for application.

    Oct. 24 2012 10:55 AM
    Jon from Manhattan

    As a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, listening to Ms. Rose reveals precisely why Republicans find the Left so insufferable.

    Oct. 24 2012 10:52 AM
    Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

    JUdy from NJ,

    "Can someone speak about the disrespect shown to President Obama? I have never seen such disrespect for a president. I beleive much of this has to do with race."

    You must have woken up 4 years ago.

    Google Images "george bush monkey".

    Death of a President (2006 film)

    Oct. 24 2012 10:51 AM
    John A.

    This "Dreams of My Real Father" thing which you just broke to me is pretty shocking. Thanks. And to be clear, a shocking misuse of film-making, and not a shocking revelation of "facts".

    Oct. 24 2012 10:50 AM
    ethan from bk

    i agree with your guest that obama has been hesitant to speak on the subject of race, but the idea that the new norm of black leaders as being silent on race is entirely wrong and unbelievable. tremendous discrimination continues to exist (and, thankfully, to be talked about), but asking obama to be specifically focused on racial discrimination is similar to imagining a jewish president being particularly concerned with antisemitism or a mormon president addressing the public image of mormons as specific policy issues. would your guest support that as well?

    i guess i just imagine the office of president as being without color or religious denomination -- obama, as any other president should be addressing these things for their existence as systemic discrimination; but no more than any of the many other areas of systemic discrimination in our country (e.g. against homosexuals, the poor, the mentally ill, the overweight, the young, the old, etc).

    Oct. 24 2012 10:49 AM
    Sheldon from Brooklyn

    Obama, has done everything that the w____ establishment - both liberal and conservative, ostensibly wanted "model blacks" to do:

    He doesn't speak with a "negro" dialect,

    (To his credit)he hasn't done ANYTHING special for the African-American community,

    He educated himself,


    He even married a black woman

    And he is still a socialist, community organizer with angry anti, post-colonial tendencies, "who pals around with terrorists" & Rev Wright and wants to give away all our money to "those people"

    Oct. 24 2012 10:49 AM
    oscar from ny

    Every race tells a story

    Oct. 24 2012 10:48 AM
    Boatz from brooklyn

    my biggest problem as it relates to race and obama is that he never said one word about the nypd's outrageous stop and frisk practice that overwhelmingly hammers young black men.

    Oct. 24 2012 10:43 AM
    JUdy from NJ

    Can someone speak about the disrespect shown to President Obama? I have never seen such disrespect for a president. I beleive much of this has to do with race.

    Oct. 24 2012 10:43 AM
    fuva from harlemworld

    The Prez hasn't "brought up" ongoing racial disparity, because he wants a second term (and, dare I say, to stay alive).
    Whomever expected him to address ongoing race injustice is naive; the thing that makes Obama palatable to the white power structure resists it...
    That said, his election to the presidency has probably had a positive psychic effect on all of us.

    Oct. 24 2012 10:42 AM

    I find it interesting, for those who care about the separating us from them, romney’s cult membership is trumped by obama’s blackness. Does this mean religion is less of an issue than we have been lead to believe?

    Oct. 24 2012 10:34 AM
    Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights


    The economy HAS turned around?

    Have the number of unemployed people gone down?
    Fewer people on foodstamps?
    Price of gas gone down?
    The financial rating of the US still at AAA rating?
    Debt gone down?
    CPI down?

    Still blaming GWB for Obamas failures?

    If Obama were to be re-elected for four more years, and if the economy gets worse, people like you would STILL blame Obamas failures on GWB.

    At what point does Obama get the blame????

    FLASHBACK: Obama: My Presidency Will Be 'A One-Term Proposition' If Economy Doesn't Turn In 3 Years

    Oct. 24 2012 10:01 AM
    john from office

    No one will admit it, but race is at the top of the Tea party and Republican parties agenda. There are people who are still very uncomfortable with a black family in the White House. But, Obama is the perfect person to prevail, he is not black and not white and understands Black and white culture very well.

    God Bless Mr. Obama and God bless out great nation.

    Oct. 24 2012 09:36 AM

    Not exactly sure where this fits in with "30 Issues in 30 Days," however, would be interesting to explore the makeup of the electorate. In NJ, there are more registered independents than Republican and Democrat combined. Not sure what the national numbers are. Doesn't this say something about the dissatisfaction with our current two major parties?

    Oct. 24 2012 09:32 AM

    @Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

    FLASHBACK: Obama: My Presidency Will Be 'A One-Term Proposition' If Economy Doesn't Turn In 3 Years

    Little could Obama know that this statement would be taken up as an objective by the leaders of the GOP and that they would (unpatriotically) show themselves willing to wreck what they could not run.

    BTW, the economy HAS turned around. It just hasn't recovered fully from the damage done by GOP mis-handling. How crazy would WE have to be in order to give them back the reins of control?

    Oct. 24 2012 09:31 AM
    Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

    FLASHBACK: Obama: My Presidency Will Be 'A One-Term Proposition' If Economy Doesn't Turn In 3 Years

    Oct. 24 2012 09:13 AM

    Do the filibusters have a racial component? Though the senators that vote to sustain them will claim that there is no racial component to their votes, I need need something stronger than their demurral to convince me. What political principles are these filibusters based on? What constitutional authorization? What appeal to higher moral or ethical principles gives these senators the unfettered right to block the work of the nation? NOTHING! Just the Senate rules. Rules that can and must be changed such that the Senate floor must be held so that, if nothing else, the filibustering senators are losing campaigning and fundraising time. At least that can eventually put an end to the obstructionism.

    Oct. 23 2012 05:48 PM
    Kathy LPV from Long Branch, NJ

    My Question:
    Has anyone done a study on the ratio of White / African American / & Latino T-Party members?
    Is there a a graph showing how many T-Party members there are, & where they are by state?
    Q. Have we Americans really "changed" concerning Race?
    1 - The historic election of Barack Obama might suggest so. But "who" elected him? The young, the Latinos, the African Americans, & the "liberals" who wish the race question would finally be over & done with. Does race play a part? Sadly I think it's still a big factor, especially if you look at the who & where the "T-Party"' was begun & is.
    - Source: "The 18 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters tend to be Republican, white, male, married and older than 45." (Kate Zernike & Megan Thee-Brenan, NY Times, April 14, 2010)
    We'd love to believe we've come far, and we have since the 50s & 60s. But there are many out there who dislike Barack because he's "not one of us" aka the wrong race.
    * Lest we forget, the South was GOP until Abe LIncoln; turned Democrat; then returned to the GOP with the Civil Rights fight & laws of the 50s & 60s! Why? *
    Q. To what extend does racism sway voters?
    2 - We are a diverse country, and the old guard is scared of becoming a minority. Romney was considered questionable because of his religion & Barack for his skin color. Mitch McConnell (KY) vowed from day 1, to make Obama a "1 term President." Add in that the "T-Party" only came into being after he was elected, and by the elections of 2010, vowing to "stop Obama from achieving anything". There's your answer.
    3 - And Obama was berated about his "Citizenship" (and some still do), despite the fact that - in order to run at all, each candidate - must Prove - that they are "natural born a Citizen."
    - Source: "No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of the President..." [Article 2]
    If that stance isn't racial, I don't know what is. America still has a long way to go on equality, before we can truly claim ourselves "exceptional" among nations.

    Oct. 23 2012 02:16 PM
    Liz in Manhattan from New york

    I wish people would have a more indept conversation about the strategies of private equity firms to offshore Us jobs to countries like India as means of growth. I worked for a company that was bought buy a few private equity firms including Romney's firm Bain. New management was brought in to achieve the objectives of the private equity firms - largely to increase the profits of the company by reducing costs. The target was to eliminate 6000 jobs in North America in the IT, accounting, finance and payroll areas and replace them in India. There were monthly update reports on headcount for every person fired in NA it was call a "takeout" and for every job added in India is was called an "revenue generator". Basically the average reduction in headcount in NA was at $80K and that same job was added in India at $20K. The people fired were generally highly skilled college educated people with years of experience. The replacemant teams in India did not do a great job because they were inexperenced and largely untrained but this kind of practice allowed the private equity firms to pull large sums of money out of companies that they bought with virtually no investment - the debt was all put into the company and then strip the company of its talent. 6000 people were roughly 15-20% of the work force of my former company. It makes me sick to hear Romney talk about creating new jobs in America when it is his depicable business practises the eliminated so many jobs in America especially highly skilled workers.

    Oct. 18 2012 11:16 AM
    Leslie from The Bronx

    Romney did it again last night. He showed himself as a rude, arrogant, get-out-of-my-face, disrespectful bossy guy. He tried to talk over his time, the President and the moderator as he did in tha last debate. In this debate Candy Crowley did not let him get away with walking all over her as he had with Jim Lehrer. The President also talked over his time and interrupted but was more polite when the moderator called him on it. Romney repeated his same stuff and Obama was able to counter the arguments. Obama was much more on his game this time. It would be embarrassing to have Romney involved in foreign affairs representing the USA.

    Oct. 17 2012 10:43 AM
    Susan from Long Island

    I think the media has given Romney a complete pass on his performance in the debate. To say that he is widely veiwed as having "won" the debate is incomplete at best but I believe it is a total mischaracterization. He is also widely viewed as having lied. Why is it you, the media at large, allow him to walk away with the title of winner? Ronmey seemed to perform better ableit without substance. Lance Armstrong has just been disgraced becuase it looks more and more like he dopped. He was stripped of all his titles beacuse he cheated. Armstrong performed better but, if what his teammates say is true, he lied. Shouldn't he hold someone who may be the next leader of the free world to the same standard as our athletes?

    Oct. 11 2012 07:55 AM

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