Senator Obama would be ahead in the polls by twenty to twenty-five points if he was white. I can prove it.
With the economy in the toilet, an unnecessary war dragging on, America's standing at the lowest point it's ever been in the world, our dollar worthless, our educational system in free fall, any minimally fit Democrat would be dizzyingly ahead in the polls... if he happened to be white.
The Democrats have put forward the brightest, most compelling and inspiring candidate since Franklin Roosevelt. I say this as a white, fifty-six year-old life-long Republican and former Evangelical leader, who was turned into an independent voter and ardent Obama supporter by my disgust with the hijacking of the Republican Party by a bunch of anti-American revolutionaries. (See my book to better understand what I mean by the term "anti-American revolutionaries." Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back.)
Senator Obama won scholarships to America's top academic institutions, was voted by his peers to be editor of the Harvard Law Review, is a family man with an exemplary and obviously loving marriage, has a wife who is a brilliant charismatic woman, two lovely children, is a churchgoing born-again Christian comfortable with his faith, has avoided making the fast buck in the new gilded age of greed when he could have, served his community, is thoughtful, considered in his opinions, slow to anger, proved right in his judgment about the Iraq war, looks at every side of a question before making a decision, and is not given to grandstanding. He would be vastly ahead in the polls, even in polls of Evangelical voters who, after all, are also watching their savings and home values evaporate... unless he happened to be... black.
I speak as someone who was brought up in an Evangelical household by famous and influential Evangelical leaders (Francis and Edith Schaeffer). And this year even I've learned something new about my old Evangelical/Republican tribe! This election has shown the true nature of the Evangelical/Republican establishment as never before.
Turns out the Evangelicals would rather vote for a pagan reprobate compulsive gambler windbag philanderer of mediocre intellectual capability than for a well qualified fellow Christian (both in word and deed) because the reprobate windbag is white and their fellow Christian is black.
Everything else is just an excuse. Why? Because everything the Evangelicals and "conservatives" claim they are against is what McCain is. And everything they say they are for-compassion, justice, mercy, decency, family values, clean living, prudence and even temperament -- is what Obama is. (Note: Former diplomat African-American Alan Keyes, perpetual far right, the Rapture is on the way, support Israel, kill all Arabs, all-abortion-is-murder-from-zygot on, free-market purist, anti-welfare, anti-affirmative action Republican pro-Wall Street, trickle down, lower-taxes-on-the-rich candidate, never got more than tepid support from the same Republicans that have wildly embraced equally loony -- and white -- ideologue, Sarah Palin. So much for being "correct" on the issues!)
My point here is to cast a light on the gross hypocrisy of the Evangelical/Republican base using their own standards. By the Evangelical/Republican moral rule book McCain should be beyond the pale!
Here is how, say, Dr. Dobson or Pat Robertson or Rick Warren might describe McCain under other circumstances, say if he was running against a white Democrat:
According to a long exhaustive New York Times report (Sunday, Sept 28, 2008) McCain is a compulsive casino gambler and thus a waster of his God-given resources.
McCain is a man who has wasted hundreds of thousands of his wife's beer-empire dollars on blackjack tables across the country.
McCain has received millions of dollars in campaign funding from the casino industry and all the shady characters within that vice-saturated netherworld.
McCain is personally (and virtually solely) responsible for the spread of the Indian tribe casinos across the country that he both "regulates" (in the Senate) gambles in and receives money from.
McCain would bring with him to the Oval Office the stench of a high-flying and utterly corrupt (and corrupting) vice-based industry.
McCain has deep personal connections to the corrupt politicians and lobbyists in the pockets of the casino industry.
McCain has a reckless personal gambling habit, one that destroys untold American lives and families and drains tens of billions of dollars from those who can least afford it.
McCain pays for his gambling addiction with the money he got by dumping his first wife in favor of a rich young blond with who he had an affair before leaving his wife...
And this is the guy the "Evangelicals" are following!
As we head into the last weeks of this election season let's be very clear: in still supporting John McCain instead of defecting to Obama, the Evangelical/Republican base has shown that it's all about race. This is even the case when it comes to abortion.
The Republican policies of gutting social programs have led to more abortions not less. But the Republican/Evangelical base would rather have more abortions than vote for a black president who's programs would reduce the actual numbers of abortions.
Obama believes that abortion ought to remain legal, but he also believes in real and practical programs that would reduce abortion by doing everything possible to help women, babies and families. McCain says he believes that abortion should be illegal, but knows very well that no matter what, even if the Supreme Court reversed Roe, abortion will remain legal in almost all states since all the Court would do is return the issue to the states. So McCain's posturing is just that: more meaningless contemptible grandstanding while not actually caring about reducing abortion.
Anyone who wants more babies born than aborted would vote for Obama. Everything else is an excuse, just another smoke screen.
The Evangelical/Republican base is also ready to back Gambler McCain even though his choice of running mate is just another irresponsible gamble, roll of the national dice for personal political gain. Evangelicals will vote for a white man, even if he has shown himself to be recklessly unpatriotic, as has McCain instead of a black man who had the good sense to choose a qualified running mate.
McCain, by gambling with our future at this critical moment with his "I can see Russia from my window" Palin stunt has shown that he puts himself first, not his country. Evangelicals know, as do all Americans, that Palin is a joke. But, judging by the close poll numbers, they'd rather live in a joke country in ruins than one with a qualified black man for president.
The choice is clear. When we vote we'll be choosing between Obama; the most intellectually and emotionally even-tempered and best equipped candidate this country has produced in most Americans lifetimes' on the one hand, and McCain, a philandering gambling addict with deep and corrupting ties to one of the most dubious socially destructive industries in United States, who is emotionally reckless and unstable and willing to risk the entire future of his country by appointing a grossly unqualified running mate.
In this election we Americans will be:
1) Voting for a president and vice president.
2) Passing or failing the greatest moral test of our time; the "exam question" is: will we elect the self-evidently better candidate regardless of his race?
There is irony at work here, and a chance for grace. How sweetly ironic that the best chance the United States has to restore our standing in the world, and to overcome our self-inflicted wounds, comes to us in the form of a thoughtful, self-effacing and brilliant young black man!
By voting for our first black president we Americans may begin the slow climb back to the moral sunlight and send a message to ourselves (and the world) that we have -- at last!--turned the page on our sordid racism. We will also save our country from four more years of Bush/McCain/Palin.
We are about to learn who we are. Will we vote race or conscience, for common sense or prejudice, for national redemption or the mindless continuation of the Bush apocalypse?
In Obama we have been given two extraordinary gifts; a great candidate and a national mirror. We are about to learn who we really are.
Frank Schaeffer is the author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back, now in paperback.