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If only Barack Obama was a Republican

In 1964, three young civil rights workers were abducted by die-hard white supremacist rednecks in Mississippi and cold-bloodedly murdered. Their crime? Assisting blacks to register as voters. James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner – one a black Mississippian and the other two Jewish human rights activists from New York – paid the ultimate price for confronting entrenched racial bigotry in the American Deep South. In those benighted times, merely allowing blacks to vote was regarded as anathema to an alarmingly high proportion of the population. The idea that a person of colour could successfully run for high office, let alone the highest office in the land, was, of course, beyond the realms of fantasy.
Let no-one mistake the significance of Barack Obama’s victory. It represents an astounding turn-about from a time when anti-black racism permeated every aspect of American society. A man whose father was not only black but was born and raised in Africa, has become President of the world’s most powerful nation. Even die-hard America haters will surely acknowledge the importance of what has happened.
Certainly, racism still exists in the US. Obama won despite his colour, and had he been white, his victory margin would almost certainly have been even greater. As I’ve observed previously on this blog, governments have a shelf life, and the Republican Party passed its sell-by date a long time ago. In addition (unlike the luckless Al Gore and John Kerry, the two previously unsuccessful Democratic candidates), Obama has loads of charisma and ran a brilliant campaign. Good luck to him. Given the present challenges facing him, particularly economic ones, he will shortly find that winning the election was the easy part.
My own feelings are nevertheless decidedly mixed. If I were a US citizen, I would be a full-blooded Republican. It gave me considerable pleasure when Bush unexpectedly defeated Kerry in 2004, not least because it was a well-deserved black eye for the lefty lobby, which had worked itself up into so intense a self-righteous frenzy over Dubya’s supposed villainy that its adherents were evidently incapable of anticipating that large numbers of people might disagree with them. When Bush snatched a clear-cut victory, far more convincing than his dubious 2000 squeaker, the leftist broadsheets reacted like spoiled children whose ice creams had been snatched away from them. This I thoroughly enjoyed. I have no problem with left-leaning views, so long as these are underpinned by a genuine commitment to democratic, humane values. I do have a problem with those who pose as champions of justice and human rights whilst joining with some of the world’s most barbarous dictatorships in a prolonged, unbalanced hymn of hate against the West.
Well, the situation has been turned on its head now, and it is my turn to “eat crow” as the saying goes. Even I have to admit, moreover, that the Republicans did not deserve re-election – they had run out of ideas, and the wheels were everywhere falling off. The fact that the lefties have something to cheer about will just have to be endured.


  • David Saks has worked for the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) since April 1997, and is currently its associate director. Over the years, he has written extensively on aspects of South African history, Judaism and the Middle East for local and international newspapers and journals. David has an MA in history from Rhodes University. Prior to joining the SAJBD, he was curator -- history at MuseumAfrica in Johannesburg. He is editor of the journal Jewish Affairs, appears regularly on local radio discussing Jewish and Middle East subjects and is a contributor to various Jewish publications.