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An Interesting Way in Which Barack Obama's Race Helps Him

by: Inoljt

Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 20:40:41 PM EDT

By: inoljt,

The 2012 presidential election is shaping up to be an election highly focused on economics and class. It seems that one of the main themes of the election will be class, or the gap between the rich and the poor. At this point, it's pretty likely that the main Democratic attack on Mitt Romney will be an attack based on class. Mitt Romney will be portrayed as rich and out-of-touch, a Wall Street banker.

Now what does this have to do with the title of this post?

More below.

Inoljt :: An Interesting Way in Which Barack Obama's Race Helps Him
Well, obviously this critique of Mitt Romney wouldn't work if his opponent was also a billionaire businessman. The attack against Mitt Romney relies on the fact that Barack Obama is not rich, is not out-of-touch, and is not a Wall Street banker.

Except one of these things is false. Barack Obama is rich. His income level squarely puts him in the top one percent.

One can make a good argument, of course, that Obama's wealth is a very different thing from Romney's wealth. Obama is wealthy mainly due to the success of his books. He has never been and will never be rich in the way Mitt Romney is. Before gaining political success, Obama was pretty heavily indebted. Not to mention that he deliberately chose to be a community organizer after college, not the most high-income of jobs.

But more importantly than all these facts, there is the fact that Barack Obama just doesn't look very rich. The typical American does not think of Obama as belonging to the top one percent when they look at him. Obama just doesn't exude wealth in the way Mitt Romney's very presence does.

Why is this? The answer is pretty simple: it's because Obama's black.

Despite the occasional successful black entertainer or athlete, the black community is still very strongly associated with poverty. Think about, for instance, the first image that usually comes to mind when people talk about poverty in America (and especially urban poverty).

The result is that Americans almost never associate Barack Obama with being rich, even though today he has become quite wealthy. This is one of those subconscious things which most people don't even realize is happening in their minds. Nor even do many political experts realize this. Nor did I for the longest time.

But the fact that Obama is African-American, and the fact that very few people associate African-Americans with wealth, will end up making a huge difference in the 2012 presidential election.

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I actually blogged about this a little while ago

Age 22, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (college)

Law and Order Liberal.

Berkeley Class of 2015.

not on rrh but

Age 22, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (college)

Law and Order Liberal.

Berkeley Class of 2015.

[ Parent ]
That's an interesting blog. Thanks for the link

And I also miss SSP; there was an attitude of respect there.

[ Parent ]
it's pretty new and I highly doubt it gets much readership; it's more a place for me to put my thoughts, but I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

yeah, SSP was a community. as is DKE. or RRH. but not the front page people, for the most part.

Age 22, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (college)

Law and Order Liberal.

Berkeley Class of 2015.

[ Parent ]
the negative response to your diary on dke by the frontpage commenters reminds me why I miss ssp

Age 22, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (college)

Law and Order Liberal.

Berkeley Class of 2015.

Obama's wealth
Between 2000 and 2006 the Obamas never made less than $207,000 a year.

Since Michelle was at the University of Chicago from 1996 to 2002 in the same job. So her salary likely wasn't much less in the 90's. Likewise, from 1996 to 2004, Barack Obama worked at a law firm, lectured at the University of Chicago, was a state legislator, and served on several boards. The Obamas likely made at least $150,000 a year starting in the mid-90's.

Now making that money doesn't make you rich, because you have taxes and expenses, but if the Obamas were heavily indebted before he came to the senate in 2005 they were really bad at managing their money. I know average Americans who aren't in debt and their families make much less.

R, CA-37; hometown: PA-2

That's actually very low, especially if you're living in a major city. I suspect that there are people here who make more than that.

I wonder if Michelle made more money than Barack before he became Senator ;)

[ Parent ]
That's low?
A couple making $200,000 a year is low in a major city? Most of the people I know in this major city which has a higher of living don't make that kind of money. I guess to some people $200,000 is low. It never will be to me. And no, I've never made anything approaching that.

They made enough that they'd be considered rich based on every speech the President gives these days.

R, CA-37; hometown: PA-2

[ Parent ]
Very low
lol. I think the top 1% makes over $300 nationally. $200,000 is top 5%. When your in the top 5% in a big city, that definately is not very low. It's very high.


[ Parent ]
Closer to 2 or 3% of "households"
meaning 2 people sometimes makes that much.


[ Parent ]
Very low?
Hah! Only if they lived in the Gold Coast in a penthouse is that "very low."

From IL-09, familial roots in MI-14, college in PA-02/07, and currently living in Barcelona.
Mark Kirk for Senate, Scott Walker for President!

[ Parent ]
Depends what an "Associate Dean" is
A dean will make considerably more than a lecturer, so it's likely that Michelle made more than Barack from UChicago. But I'm guessing that he made more than enough from his other endeavors to make up the gap.

[ Parent ]

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