America is, by and large, a nation dominated by racists and racism is expected to play a huge role in the upcoming Presidential elections.
As the presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama had to overcome racism in his own party to gain the nomination. Now he faces unrelenting racism from the Republican spin machine.
But Republicans are already learning that racism can backfire on them.
A Republican congressional candidate in a majority-white Mississippi district runs ads trying to tie his Democratic rival with Barack Obama’s former pastor, seen by some as an anti-white firebrand. Democrats distribute fliers accusing the Republican of wanting a statue to honor the founder of the Ku Klux Klan.
The only black justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court is defeated after his rival runs an ad with the justice’s picture next to that of a black convict. A watchdog group calls it a "disgraceful attack."
In South Carolina, a Republican challenger for the U.S. Senate airs an ad with people stepping over wire fencing and protesters holding "Secure Our Borders" signs. It includes a man and woman saying, "Muchas gracias, Lindsey Graham," the incumbent Republican.
In the first year a major party is poised to choose a black nominee for president, American politicians are still appealing to voters’ racial fears, with varying degrees of success.
"Racial fears and racial conflict are certainly not segregated to the South," said Michael Dawson, a University of Chicago political scientist who has studied race in politics. "Certainly, I think we see it in most parts of the country."
Republicans have a long — and often successful — history of trying to label local Democrats as national Democrats, even when the local candidate disagrees with the national party on some issues.
That happened a few weeks ago in special elections for open congressional seats in Mississippi and Louisiana, where the Democrats both ran as anti-abortion and pro-gun candidates — positions that put them at odds with their national party.
After both Democrats won, Republican campaign leaders immediately said they would re-evaluate their strategy because the tactic appeared to backfire by increasing black voter turnout for the Democrats.