I'm sure that the Tea Party has its share of racist members; after all, racism is still alive in America and some of Obama's critics are surely motivated by race, but I find it difficult to label the entire Tea Party movement as racist.
GOP candidate Herman Cain (the topic of a previous blog post) responded strongly to Freeman's allegations. In an interview on Fox News, Cain maintained that critics of the Tea Party (including Freeman and others who maintain that the Tea Party is racist) are "so short-sighted in really understanding what the whole Tea Party citizen movement is all about." I think Cain is onto something. I've been to a Tea Party rally; and while I think the movement is really a distraction, there are many genuine members who possess finely articulated criticisms of Obama--criticisms not motivated by race. The movement is comprised of demoralized Americans. Neither the Democrats nor many Republicans have responded to their concerns; even Left liberals like famed academic Noam Chomsky has cautioned against ignoring the criticisms and concerns of Tea Party members.
Freeman's comments and Cain's response bring up an interesting question: is it possible to have a thorough and honest discussion of race and politics? More to the point, should we ignore all criticisms of Obama, labeling them and his critics as "racist?" Surely the answer is no, but then why is race constantly raised in the election?
The answer is obvious: race has a political benefit, and Obama's advisors know that they can capitalize on the so-called racism.
In that same Friday interview, Freeman said that the Tea Party's success "unnerves" him because "it just shows the weak, dark, underside of America." I'm confident that many Americans would agree with him.
According to Newsbusters.org, Obama's "poll numbers continue to sink" even among "Jews and African-Americans." An increasing number of Americans have adopted the view that the Obama administration remains paralyzed, unable to address the problems that plague domestic America in 2011.
Is Cain the "Conservative alternative" to Barack Obama? As the campaign season continues on, it will be interesting to see what role race will play and where Cain will be in the scheme of things.
The Tea Party has played a crucial role in American politics over the last two years, but is the movement a net benefit or a net loss? Judging from election results, they have helped propel Republicans into various offices; but they cannot seem to shed the allegation of racism. Will the Tea Party help the GOP on a national stage, in 2012?
To secure the Republican nomination, the candidates will have to pander to this movement, but how successful will the Republican candidate be at possessing broad-spectrum appeal during the national campaign?