Here is my column from today's Western Star. After this was written, and after I posted this, I heard from others who were not treated right by Obama supporters. But in no way is this critical of the Obama and his team, rather it is critical of local supporters who seemed to forget why we have elections and have no idea what Obama's call for unity means.
Approximately 53 % of Americans voted for Barack Obama for president, but an even greater number have expressed confidence that race relations will improve as a result of his election. Sixty seven per cent described their reaction to his election as optimistic, and 59% as proud, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll.
Some Obama supporters in Bessemer must not have gotten the memo.
At Obama’s headquarters in Bessemer, and at locations across the nation, volunteers worked day and night to organize, register new voters and get the vote out on Election Day.
On Election Day, when everyone is encouraged to vote, Obama volunteers treated white voters with disrespect at the Thompson Manor polling place. One person I know was called a “white devil” and a “honkey” as he was leaving the polling place by a volunteer who was passing out Obama flyers. And my own daughter, a strong Obama supporter who was among the first to vote that morning, faced angry stares and words from Obama supporters as well.
Of course there are bad apples in every bunch. But those who would verbally attack people at the voting booth obviously are not interested in building coalitions and working in a united way to solve the problems of our community and our nation. I advise them to listen to the president-elect’s victory speech, in which he urged us to “resist the temptation to fall back on the same pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.” He quoted Lincoln, who told a divided nation that “we are not enemies, but friends.” And he called for the support of those who did not vote for him.
The unity our next president seeks may be difficult to achieve when some who support him treat those who they assume oppose him with contempt.
Before the election I called for support for whoever the next president would be because the problems of our country are so great. An African American supporter of Obama in Nevada told me “in unity there is power.” And it will take a powerful president to lead this country out of the mess we are in.
If the angry Obama supporters who targeted white voters want our president to be successful, they need to be working to bring people together rather than pulling people apart. Healing our nation begins in our own community.