Now I get it: Samuel L. Jackson assumes the Tea Party opposes Barack Obama because of his race because he also assumes Barack Obama’s fans support him because of his race. At least, he knows he did.
“I voted for Barack because he was black,” the actor said candidly to Ebony magazine. “That’s why other folks vote for other people — because they look like them. That’s American politics, pure and simple. [Obama’s] message didn’t mean sh*t to me.”
The actor said plenty more that’s controversial, but I flat-out don’t have the stomach to republish it here. Check out the choicer bits at this Politico link, at which Caitlin McDevitt mercifully bleeped out Jackson’s incessant cussing.
For now, suffice it to say I agree with at least one Ebony magazine writer on this: Jackson’s comments invite separatism and make light of an amazing accomplishment. While I couldn’t disagree with the president’s ideas more, I’m perfectly willing to concede that his election represented either (a) an actual triumph of progressivism or (b) the triumph of his superior campaign skills, which enabled him to package a progressive agenda in vague rhetoric that captured the hearts and minds of many Americans.
Jackson’s comments also force me to concede, though, that, mixed into the triumph of progressivism and/or superior campaign management, was a boost from flat-out and unabashed identity politics. It frightens me to think he might be right that he’s not the only person to vote for a candidate based on appearance alone. To anybody who doesn’t bother to research the issues and votes based on looks: Stop it!
Still, I refuse to agree with Jackson that American politics “pure and simple” boil down to voters’ desire to see their personal doppelgänger in the White House. Those of us who are paying attention and actually care about the future of this country desire a like-minded leader, sure, but we couldn’t care less what he or she looks like.