When union leader Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO addressed the touchy issue of working class whites not wanting to vote for Sen. Barack Obama because of his race at a convention back in July, it created a buzz on the Internet. A video clip of the speech posted on YouTube (see below) has since been viewed more than 300,000 times. We asked our Observers if racial prejudice could lead to Sen. Obama's defeat.

'Viral propaganda'

Tim Kenney, Branding consultant, Bethesda Maryland (Democrat)

I was THRILLED by Richard Trumka’s speech denouncing racism as a reason to vote against voting for Senator Obama. And glad that someone finally spoke up, and spoke so loudly about it.

Speaking personally, if someone asks me whether Obama’s ethnic origins would affect my vote, I wonder about THEIR secret prejudice, not mine. Why on earth would they ask that question, unless it concerned THEM, not ME.

I believe, deeply, that you:

• hire who’s qualified

• vote for the candidate who demonstrates he OR she can lead wisely.

Race and gender are simply... irrelevant.

Which is one reason why McCain — who used to have my respect — is rapidly losing it. Here is specifically why: John McCain’s actual EXPRESSED RACISM.

He called any Vietnamese or Southeast asian person a “gook” for 27 years — until he decided to run for President.* Sure, he was captured by the enemy in wartime, But the word “gook” is a term of war, and we have not been at war with Vietnam in 33 years.

This recent hush-hush clamor about racism appearing so late in the race bothers me, and makes me suspicious. I think it’s viral propaganda. And as a branding consultant, believe me, I know propaganda. And this stinks.


Source: Video posted by cameo9876 on Youtube

'A strategy to deflect attention'

Alexander Stone Dale, ex-taxi driver, Manhattan, NY (Republican)

The line used to go “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel,” until all the scoundrels abandoned patriotism.

They found asylum in accusations of racism instead. When Democrat Congressman Barney Frank tries to deflect attention away from his complicity in the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collapse, he cries ‘racism.’

When Obama supporters try to deflect attention away from the Senator’s terrorist and vote fraud connections they cry ‘racism.’

Are Barack Obama’s final vote tallies going to be less than the polls would suggest? Yes. But not because a Republican has a problem telling a pollster that they’re not voting for the Senator - because he’s a Democrat. It is within Democrat circles that there will be a discrepancy between the polls and the polls. But look on the bright side. At least they don’t want to admit publicly that they’re racist.

‘In Heat Barney Frank Has Love Affair With Fannie Mae Worker’ at current.com ‘Democrat Barney Frank Blames Subprime Anger On Racism’ at poligazette.com ‘McCain’s Usage Of ‘That One’ Sparks Questions Of Intent’ at foxnews.com ‘AP-Yahoo News: Race And Competency Drive White Democrats Away From Obama’ at digitaljournal.com

'Blacks vote for Obama because he's black - that's racism'

Jim Wilkinson, business owner, Mercedes, TX (Republican)


According to polls, Obama can expect to receive well over 90% of the black vote, so it would appear blacks vote for Obama simply because he's black.

That's a real example of racism. Indeed, there are some whites that will not vote for Obama because he's black, but there are also many whites that will give Obama their vote because he is black... what some folks call "white guilt." That pretty much evens it out.

The vast majority of people who vote against Obama do so because of his very liberal policies. If racism is indeed a factor it's exemplified by the fact that blacks vote for blacks, regardless.

'In the Army I have heard MANY racist comments'

Ernesto Haibi, US Army medic, Copperas Cove, TX (Independent)

As a Hispanic I see Obama as an American politician. Old folks and people raised in openly racist communities see Obama as black.

I can't say I don't have reservations about a black president, but I have to temper that with reason. There is a Black American culture. Obama comes from both worlds, being raised primarily by whites yet being seen by others as black. His wife, his church and his friends are black. Again, as a Hispanic who grew up solely Hispanic, anything not Hispanic is alien to me. Black, white, plaid; it's all white/black American nonsense.

Sadly, though, in the Army I have heard MANY openly racist comments about Obama. "He's a muslim." "He's an Afrocentrist." "Are you really going to vote for a nigger?" Yes, that and worse. One soldier told me he wasn't going to vote for Obama because "many of our brothers died fighting people with names like that." Most of America has a racial slant.

I wish it were different, but after 41 years in America and spending the better part of 20 years around White Anglo-Saxon Protestants I can say they tend to feel discomfort around anything other than WASPs.

We like to think that we have no racial bias until our daughters bring home someone different from us. I hope that he wins or loses based on his ideas and not his tint.

The Black Elephant in the room

Linda Sharp, parenting writer, Austin, TX (Independent)

The smell has been lightly lingering for months, like a dead mouse behind a wall or an orange gone bad in the back of the fridge.

But as Election Day draws closer, the stench has grown stronger. RACISM. And it stinks to high heaven and the very lowest depths of hell.

We have already seen that it doesn't matter who runs on the Republican ticket - hell, at this point I believe they could have picked an actual pit bull - that it doesn't matter what lies are told repeatedly, how truths are distorted, how things like being a "community organizer" are somehow smeared to sound like "Nazi skinhead".

If you have your reasons and they have NOTHING to do with that little thing called bigotry, fine. But racism is still alive and unwell in this country. I hear jokes murmured about Obama on the sidelines of soccer games, slurs drunkenly made at parties, repetitions of the Muslim garbage in casual conversations.

And it makes me sick. Sick at heart because we should be better than this, farther along than this. A person's skin color has no more to do with their ability to lead than their eye or hair color. Or what cereal they eat. What size shoe they wear. Are they left handed or right? 20/20, near sighted, or far? IT DOESN'T MATTER. IT SHOULDN'T MATTER.

What's funny to me is the reaction I get when I remind these people that Barack Obama is only HALF black. His mother was white, his father was black. "Eh. Details. He's still BLACK. And you know what that means." Um, no, I don't know what that means other than he has to put up with STUPID BIGOTS like yourself. The man is qualified. The man has galvanized millions of people in this country, and millions more around the world. That's not "celebrity", as the McCain campaign would write it off. THAT'S INSPIRATION.

And I will take that in whatever package it comes. Black, white, purple, plaid, or a rainbow like a Skittles bag. HIS skin color is not the problem. It's the skin color of the closeted bigots in this country that is. And this is not a playing of the race card. This is the race REPORT CARD. And sadly, this country still fails miserably.