Goodwin writes: Some Democratic candidates spent election season trying to scare black voters to polls. They claimed shootings like the one in Ferguson and the 2012 Trayvon Martin case in Florida would become common if Republicans prevailed. At the bottom of the barrel was the scurrilous comment by Harlem’s Rep. Charlie Rangel that some in the GOP “believe that slavery isn’t over.”
So it goes six years after America elected the first black president. That history-making moment was supposed to usher in an era of peace in the melting pot.
But that’s not what happened. Instead, a strong plurality of people believe race relations actually are growing worse under President Obama. In a time of stark political polarization, that agreement stands out as a rare piece of common ground among whites, black and Latinos.
Thanks to last week’s election rout, the debate is settled over whether Obama is a failed president. From the lackluster economy to global troubles, his obvious shortcomings are legion.
Yet race relations were one area where it seemed safe to assume he would leave a positive legacy. His meteoric rise sent hopes soaring that the scars of the past would be erased the moment he took office.
He had compared himself to the Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln. He announced his candidacy from the same spot Lincoln had announced his, in Springfield, Ill., and took the oath on Lincoln’s Bible.
“Not only is Lincoln one of my political heroes,” Obama told USA Today in 2007, “but, like Lincoln, I served for seven years in Springfield in the state Senate, and it’s there I learned how to legislate; it’s there that I developed many of my political ideas.”
Much of the nation shared his optimism. An NBC News exit poll in 2008 asked voters how they thought race relations would fare under Obama. Some 47 percent said they would get better, 34 percent thought they would stay about the same, while only 15 percent expected them to get worse.
But last week, another NBC exit poll captured the bad news. Only 20 percent said race relations had improved under Obama, while 38 percent say they are worse. Blacks are especially disappointed. Nearly 60 percent had high hopes in 2008, while only 19 percent now say things are better. A whopping 43 percent say things are worse.
Other polls found an even more lopsided view. A survey for Investor’s Business Daily found that nearly half of all adults think race relations are worse under Obama and 1 in 4 believe they are “much worse.” Only 18 percent say they are better. While the problems are too entrenched to pinpoint a single source of failure, the president cannot escape responsibility.
That was provocative enough, but Holder routinely injects racial charges into political and legal issues, as if nothing has changed in 50 years. He sent a small army of FBI agents to Ferguson and declared the police force guilty of bias, even before an investigation.