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Ta-Nehisi Coates and Obama

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Derrick CB, Sep 8, 2017.

  1. Derrick CB

    Derrick CB Chieftain

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    In short, the thesis of Ta-Nehisi Coates' latest essay latest essay is that Trump is the "first white president" in the sense that whiteness requires the presence of people of color--especially Black people in the case of the US--against whom whites can define themselves. Continuing from this starting point, we see Trump capitalized on whiteness by making "the negation of Obama's legacy the foundation of his own." So Trump is "the first president whose entire political existence hinges on the fact of a black president," thus marking Trump's election as the introduction of (contra Black) whiteness to the space of presidencies.

    The main aspect of the essay has a lot of important content. However, my main interest with this thread is the dialog Coates has with Obama. He spends a lot of time arguing with Obama:

    On white working class issues vs black working class issues, Obama says:
    Coates:
    On why the GOP was so hell-bent on obstructing everything Obama did:
    Coates:
    On the importance of whiteness, Obama:
    On why Clinton lost, Coates talks about how Sanders and Biden offered very white explanations: Clinton focused too much on identity politics and fundraising and was out of touch with the working class, which Coates uses as evidence that they're doing the typical liberal thing of sidestepping the importance of the racial bargain. Though Obama criticized Clinton for similar reasons in November:
    My intention isn't to say Coates is wrong because Obama, but to ask why Obama turned out to be one of his main interlocutors. What does Obama actually believe? What does Obama know that Coates doesn't and what does Coates know that Obama doesn't (or refuses to say publicly)? What's the correcting weighting of the whiteness thesis and the more conventional interpretations offered by Obama, Biden, Sanders, and most liberal commentary?
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2017
    Tristan_C likes this.
  2. Colon

    Colon Chieftain

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    It's bold to accuse Trump of geniusness. I view him the same way I view Columbus: an idiot and a quack who stumbled and bumbled his way into the history books.
     
    cardgame likes this.
  3. FriendlyFire

    FriendlyFire Codex WMDicanious

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    G.W.Bush was elected Twice
    Achem razor
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2017
  4. Berzerker

    Berzerker Chieftain

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    End the drug war

    Bill Clinton? Trump preached protectionism, free trade has been a GOP weakness with blue collar America. The GOP has been waiting for a protectionist to step in, and Trump won because he got the rust and coal belts. It didn't help when Hillary's "glee" over lost coal jobs became a Trump ad.
     
  5. BvBPL

    BvBPL Pour Decision Maker

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    Obama placed less emphasis on race than many contemporary commentators. Throughout his presidency, he played down the importance of race in politics. He saw the interest of people as extending beyond and through race, rather than race being a primary determinate. In recent years, people on many political sides have come out with arguments that race is a critical personal attribute that must be addressed, theories that run contrary to those espoused by the Obama presidency. In this, Obama is representative of his party. Coates is right both that contemporary Democrats have not advanced racially-focused politics and policies.

    Of course that didn’t stop right-wing voices from raising racial issues and telling racist lies about Obama because the color of his skin.

    I wonder if Obama didn’t talk about race a lot in part because he was a black man raised by a white woman in a very cosmopolitan area.
     
  6. metalhead

    metalhead Angry Bartender

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    I think he didn't talk about race much because he wanted to continue being elected to things. Obama knows probably better than anyone else except maybe Trump how powerful a motivating electoral force race is in America, among conservatives and liberals alike. Few politicians want to actually address race beyond vague platitudes, because there just aren't many elected federal or state offices whose electorates won't revolt in response to it.

    Coates is 100% right. I don't know what Obama actually believes, but I think his public posture on issues of race is due to wanting, as president and now an ex-president, not to be a divisive figure. What ails minority working class people is also what ails the white working class - but there are also a host of other things that ail minority working class people which do not affect the white working class. Virtually all national politicians are doing what Obama did and trying to sidestep those issues in a crass and cynical attempt at greater electoral success, and this is of course a callow response to the whitelash against the notion of a black president.
     
  7. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Holy crap you Americans are obsessed with skin colour

    Not everything has to be a skin colour metaphor or comparison, chill out
     
  8. BvBPL

    BvBPL Pour Decision Maker

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    No US political party cares about the poor of any color. You hit the nail on the head as to why: because the politicians want to keep being elected. The poor don’t vote so politicians ignore them because as long as the poor don’t vote they are a powerless and irrelevant concern.
     
  9. Manfred Belheim

    Manfred Belheim Chieftain

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    It's probably a result of dropping the 'u' from colour. Makes it faster and easier to type or write, so it's more tempting to use it more often.
     
  10. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    The poor also have no money to donate to campaigns. Those who do call the shots.
     
  11. Valessa

    Valessa error 404 - title not found

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    But Trump is orange.
     
  12. metalhead

    metalhead Angry Bartender

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    Unless and until one's skin color stops having such a large impact on one's life, there is no reason not to be mindful of it.

    "Working class" isn't strictly a euphemism for the poor, at least not as I was using it. An awful lot of people would self-identify as "working class" who are comparatively well-off financially. An awful lot more who are later in their working lives might be doing well now, but both from their own earlier lives and the lives of people in their family and community are cognizant of some of the challenges facing people who earn less than a middle class living.

    This of course means that from a practical, policy standpoint, you don't actually have to do stuff for lower wage workers, but at least as far as running for office goes, you still have to signal the right things to the right groups to win electoral support. Everyone seems to have decided that that means you can't talk about race in a constructive manner, instead pretending it's not an issue.

    Also, while elected officials may or may not personally care about the poor, one party at least wants to make sure they have some access to medical care. So I'm not that concerned about whether their concern is genuine; what they want to do is what matters.
     
  13. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    Ironically, this is exactly the sort of race-blind policy proposal that Ta-Nehisi is repudiating in the sentence you quoted. We are already seeing that relaxing drug laws and enforcement has not magically resulted in an end to disparities in the justice system.

    This is all exactly correct. Obama was, really, a moderate conservative on issues of race. It was his identity that was the real issue for the right. But when was the last time you heard a call for discussion about toxic identity politics on the right?
     
  14. Mark1031

    Mark1031 Chieftain

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    I think Coates is exactly right in his thesis and the behavior of most politicians. He interestingly points out that Trumps voting block is white people, not this supposed maligned white working class but white people of all income groups and both sexes. It is interesting that polite commentators are desperate to not see this but it is there in the polling statistics. Has no one asked how it came about that the working class based on income divides their votes so starkly along racial lines with like 60% of white working class voting republican and 90% AA, 70% Hispanic voting democratic. How do you see these numbers and conclude it is an economic issue?

    The goal of liberals (Obama et al) has always been to unite people along economic lines and the goal of republicans is to prevent this from happening by fomenting racial resentment. That is why the situation is what it is and why republican policies poll so poorly yet they win so often. If people focused on policy as opposed to racial and cultural resentment the republicans would be in big trouble. Whites are still most votes and a campaign focused on telling them the truth, they are privileged by the long history of racism in this country and bear some responsibility for addressing it would be a sure loser.
     
  15. Naskra

    Naskra Chieftain

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    Coates' thesis is that Trump is white, very white, really really white, the whitest man ever, the consummation of 400 years of whiteness. And that Obama was black [citation needed]. Whiteness is bad, blackness is good. Coates is obviously paid by the word, not by the insight.
     
  16. Berzerker

    Berzerker Chieftain

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    Here's the quote

    "Few national liberal politicians have shown any recognition that there is something systemic and particular in the relationship between black people and their country that might require specific policy solutions."

    You think Coates is repudiating an end to the drug war? I dont think so... But how is that race blind? Blacks and hispanics are the main targets of the drug war. Ending the drug war does not mean 'relaxing' drug laws, it means ending the criminalization of drugs. And even with that it'll take years or decades for communities to recover, the drug war has been a 50 year war on multiple generations of black people on top of all the other horrors they suffered.
     
  17. FriendlyFire

    FriendlyFire Codex WMDicanious

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    And the opiode epidemic sweeping through white rual America ?
    Didnt this epidemic START with LEGALISED Opiodes ?

    Maybe the legalization of Weed will help someway as people switch to Legal ready available drug
    That and Republicans deciding to stop free medical car for Overdosing Drug users
     
  18. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    No, I don't. But let me guess: you don't support reparations?
     
  19. Berzerker

    Berzerker Chieftain

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    they require prescriptions

    wow, you moved them goal posts right out of the stadium... No, I dont, 'repairing' slavery by enslaving people is not a moral endeavor.

    How is the drug war race-blind?
     
  20. FriendlyFire

    FriendlyFire Codex WMDicanious

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    Clearly too much regulations
    The thing is that this hidden drug culture existed for a long time in White rual America, it was just hidden until now and not covered by the media.
    I guess if the states stop reviving overdosing drug users and allow them to simply die that would be one way of solving the Opiode epidemic
     

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