Among the many measurable impacts to be monitored in the era following Barack Obama’s presidency is the proliferation of nominees and candidates created in his image. To be noted is the amount of candidates to emerge with the same academic mastery of the Constitution as he, the same urbanity as he, the same patience—the same relativity—the same quickness as he. That Barack Obama will become a template of sorts for candidates henceforth is due to the effectiveness of his campaign: its technological capabilities, its skillful messaging, but most importantly, the persona around which it was centered. Even among his dissenters, Barack Obama’s robust election and re-election campaigns are referenced in awe. Writer Steve Friess, of New York Magazine, for example, reported in August of 2013 that GOP operatives had taken to Sasha Issenberg’s The Victory Lab—a text examining the complex successes of the Obama campaign—with a biblical fervor. Barack Obama, as the inaugural President of the Twitter and Facebook ages, is to be—forever—the political ancestor from which candidates of various ideological camps derive. Among the Republican party, in fact, there is an eagerness to mimic Barack Obama’s meteoric rise, but with a candidate of their liking: one who, in body, looks like him, yet in mind, is his opposite.
There is, in African American history, a noteworthy complexity in political ideology which was emblematic of a people attempting to regain footing throughout centuries of oppression. This complexity birthed Martin and Malcolm; W.E.B. and Booker T; Zora Neale Hurston, and Shirley Chisolm, and Barbara Jordan. Throughout every chapter of American history, African Americans have demonstrated the ability—or, rather, the tendency—to consider a broad swath of political ideologies, yet this mere consideration is not, in itself, worthy of celebration. It is necessary that we celebrate the substance of ideas, rather than their mere duality or multitude, because some ideas are unfortunate ones. It is not necessary, for example, for racism to exist as the antithesis to anti-racism, simply for us to celebrate the diversity of ideas. Racism is an unfortunate school of thought. It is similarly unnecessary for sexism and xenophobia to exist as the antitheses to their respective progressive movements, because sexism and xenophobia are both unfortunate schools of thought.
And so in a contemporary context, the celebration of Black conservatives can easily be tinged with racialized undertones. The Ben Carsons of the world; the Allen Wests of the world; the Herman Cains of the world are often celebrated among the Republican Party as the “ones who got away”–the anomalies who escaped Progressive hypnosis to the utopia of conservatism; yet, the bulk of their brothers and sisters, who vote largely in support of the Democratic Party, are obviously not afforded such praise. There is something inherently racist about the presumption that Blacks—in historically voting for Progressive policy—do so, with frequency, against their best interests. There is something inherently racist about denying the political virtue of an entire swath of ethnic people. That African Americans demonstrate large support for the contemporary Democratic Party is due to the undeniable disconnect between the bulk of pro-Black ideology and the aims of the Republican Party. This disconnect is a political one: it is neither the result of a Black president nor the result of his party’s hypnotic allure. It is, fundamentally, a matter of policy.