Among all of the hype Obama has generated, there are perhaps two illusions that are the most striking reasons people seem to be voting for him (as opposed to against Bush and the Republicans). One is that he will restore our nation’s international prestige that Bush supposedly ruined. The other is that an Obama presidency will somehow heal the nation’s racial politics. Both are unlikely, if not completely laughable.
First: America’s power has always put our country in a double bind situation. If we do take action, we are criticized as a bully. If we do not, we are called weak. Obama will not change this by switching to the opposite end of the spectrum from Bush, and, while he does so, the world will likely grow more dangerous, hostile, and oppressed from our disengagement. Why would devoting less than our full resources (or, not even threatening to use our military where necessary) to improving the world work better than devoting all of them?
Second: Obama is not a post-racial candidate. He is a racial candidate, as his background associations, his politics, and even his party demonstrate repeatedly. Showing that America cares about race exactly demonstrates that we are not yet past caring about race. While I agree that in a non-racial United States (and we’re certainly much better than we ever were, no thanks to the Democrats, who never been colorblind regarding race) a non-white candidate will eventually be elected, electing a non-white candidate does not make our country racially colorblind.