I’m not a regular listener to Geraldo Rivera’s radio show. I’ve caught a couple of minutes of it here and there, and he seemed to be a reasonable, middle of the road personality. I know he had a television program years ago; and, if I remember correctly, he was involved in some violent foray on one of the shows in which he sustained a broken nose. Whatever his history is, I do know that he is a journalist and has been around for a considerable amount of time.
My attention was recently drawn to Mr. Rivera during a commercial in which he was promoting his radio program. In it, he stated that the re-election of President Obama shows that our country is divided along racial lines. At first, I was angry at the comment because, at the very least, it oversimplifies the reason for the outcome of our most recent presidential election. Then, being of mixed racial heritage myself, I wondered where I fell within his paradigm. I know I didn’t vote along racial lines. Does that make me an exception?
Right before the election, Rivera claimed on his website (Geraldo.com) that race would be the most “obvious determinant of the election” (posted October 26, 2012). Call me crazy, but I think at least some, dare I say most, of Americans give some thought to their vote before they make a decision. Suggesting otherwise is an insult to the intelligence of a nation. And I’m willing to bet that the majority of people voted for the guy that they thought would do the best job, despite his color or race. People have brains, and even use them occasionally.
Now, I am not one to state my opinions as facts. To disprove Rivera’s assertions, let’s look over some simple statistics. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 72% of the U.S. population identified their race as white, 13% identified their race as black, 5% identified themselves as Asian, .9% identified themselves as American Indian or Alaskan native, .2% identified themselves as Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 6% identified themselves as “some other” race, and 3% identified themselves as multi-racial. According to these numbers, if this country was divided along racial lines, President Obama should have never captured the White House at all.
In 2008, 43% of white voters voted for Barack Obama, which swept him into the White House. In 2012, Obama received 39% of the white vote, only down 4% from his first-term election. This was enough to give him an edge to victory in an extremely close contest. If America were truly RACIALLY divided, Governor Romney would have won in a landslide victory in 2012 by just over 70% of the popular vote, which would have beaten the combined percentage of every minority group if they, too, voted strictly along racial lines.
Basic statistics prove that people don’t let mere race swing their vote. Saying that it does is a disservice to the country. It is irresponsible and damaging to the psyche of a country. As far as I can see, the country is divided by political ideology NOT race.
Watching the President’s victory celebration on TV on November 6th, I observed something extraordinary. People of various races and colors were in the crowd, and they were all sharing a happy experience, waving American flags and cheering. That scene is indicative of the America of today, regardless of political preference. Let’s not get bogged with old ideas, such as race is the ultimate arbiter of all things. People are tired of it. Let’s not cheapen the political debate and fan the flames of racial resentment and unrest by making politics a battle between races instead of a battle of ideas.