Barack Obama and "Tolerance Fatigue"

January 4, 2008

Some quick thoughts on Obama's win in Iowa. (I'm not necessarily endorsing Obama btw, would love to see him win but there are other candidates I like too.. haven't decided yet what I'm doing in the primary.)

Posted by jsmooth995 at January 4, 2008 7:00 AM

As usual you put everything on point. To me, the end sums it up the best. "I believe in America...*sigh*". Yup. That's what it is. This country feels that it needs to convince itself that the problems of racism and sexism are no longer relevant. White people, feel the need to convince themselves of that more than any other race. It's sad to think that we will act like the problem is not there, when we know it is. To me, that is nearly as bad as having it flaunted in our faces. I have several white friends who have no problem making racist and/or sexist remarks but, they feel that following it with a "I'm not racist though" makes it ok. You've got to be kidding me. That's the whole problem with this country today. We can't admit that there is still a problem. So, the baby boomers and their kids (us) will say, "Yeah, Obama in '08" when honestly, they'd rather be voting for Jon Stewart. It's a sad thing. Especially because, as you said, they will freak out in the end and wind up voting for another familiar white bread face that won't change anything. Or, which may be even scarier, they may vote for Obama or Hilary and not even know why. They may not realize that they really are two of the top 3 candidates (my man Dennis Kucinich should get the nomination but, that's another story). They may not realize that to listen to what the candidates say, and know that it's true and helpful, is infinitely more important than saving face in front of your other liberal white friends as you sit in front of your TV wondering why Stewart/Colbert weren't on the ticket.

Great video. Can't tell you how appreciative I am of what you say and how you speak the truth, especially in a day and age when so many are afraid of the truth.

Posted by: Mike at January 4, 2008 8:54 AM

Tolerance fatigue...sad to hear so many Americans, even you, might suffer from it.
I just wish I'd be able to participate, but as a German, all I can do is watch and HOPE that you all have the guts to do something great!
Peace from Berlin

Posted by: Alia at January 4, 2008 9:06 AM

jay smooth for president.!
seriously. you'd have a buttload of supporters. i bet public enemy would back your campaign. meaning all the contestants from flavor of love would vote for you. snoogins.

Posted by: jus is what your day's missing at January 4, 2008 11:27 AM

Great vid as always Doc.
Even thou I'm from Sweden I have been more interested in this election than the others, just cause Obama is running.

Peace from Stockholm

Posted by: E at January 4, 2008 11:28 AM

Interesting points. I'm definitely ready to vote for a black man. I think, as Chris Rock recently put it, we can't trust another white man with that job. I mean my politics are much more similar to a bunch of the white dudes than anyone else, but I'm sick and tired of people wanting someone Presidential (i.e. more or less like the previous guy). Haven't we had enough total fuckups in the job because they looked Presidential?

Keep it up, Jay. Dope vlog.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 4, 2008 12:17 PM

hehehe Briliant! :D

I think I'm going to try to fire up the camera for this one, but even though you're not THE Hip-Hop Videoblogger, I'll admit you have a couple of months' head start on me with this "social commentary" shtick! :D

Well done! Damn. Here comes my "hater" to tell me I can't do it! ;)

Posted by: bill c. at January 4, 2008 12:34 PM

The more I watch you, the more I think about vlogging myself. You make such great points with this one -- as always. But really, who knows, it could be possible. I think Obama has a better chance than Jesse ever did. Who knows?

Posted by: Lynne d Johnson at January 4, 2008 12:39 PM

you're on a roll--great message for us to heed--

Posted by: Kristen at January 4, 2008 12:54 PM

the jacket, somehow, makes this already great video even better. can't say why. happy new year man.

Posted by: julien at January 4, 2008 12:55 PM

I dunno, I'm going the other way -- I think people are *more* ready than we imagine. Everybody thinks about electability in terms of "well, my neighbor is a racist, but i'm not." or "well, i'd vote for a mormon, but those crazies wouldn't." And I think the reality is, sometimes we're our *better* selves in private. Peer pressure makes us do stupid things.

Posted by: Anil at January 4, 2008 1:00 PM

Tolerance is key!

I love your points of how you brought up Tom Bradley (former mayor of Los Angeles), Douglas Wilder (former Governor of Virginia and current mayor of Richmond, Virgina) and David Dinkins (former mayor of New York). They did their thing at the right time in leading and following the creed of Dr. King's, "I Have a Dream." But, still, America was not truly ready for them. They cracked the door for Barack Obama.

Let's see what happens and let's pray that our young people REGISTER to VOTE!

Please get the word out to Register to Vote!!

Posted by: Jennifer at January 4, 2008 1:05 PM

Love it. I posted your on-point video onto my Facebook page. Your sentiments have legs and I dig spreading em. (what!?!)

I am likewise a bit pessimistic -- I just returned from a road trip through the South and I got the distinct impression that a southern baptist minister is a bazillion times more rational a decision for the electorate than ol' B.O.. People confuse "straight talk" with a real moral equilibrium, that's why they voted for the current Yahoo twice over.

"...I believe in America" to which I would add, "-ish"

Thanks again and here's to hopin'

Posted by: Marko at January 4, 2008 1:47 PM

No! No! Say it isn't so! I don't believe it! I can't believe it! JUST SAY NO TO TOLERANCE FATIGUE! I believe in America, too! I believe Americans want change soooooo badly that there's no room for tolerance fatigue. People are fried on this administration and I think they're willing to go with B.O. for all sorts of reasons...

...but then I'm a native New Yorker who tends to forget about the immense swath of land land that lies south of Staten Island and West of 11th Avenue.

Maybe they're not ready.

Well, they should GET ready, dammit.

I'm not ready to be pessimistic just yet. Give me a couple of months to bask in the warm sunny light of Hope.

Posted by: missb at January 4, 2008 3:34 PM

I agree... and I don't. For many of these Iowans (96% of whom are white) ELECTION fatigue must've already set in by caucus time. I couldn't imagine the number of mailings, calls, commercials, etc. that they'd have to deal with every day and surely with the amount of money Obama threw at the state, his name and image came up (probably) the most along with Hillary.

If a state that is that predominantly white votes for Obama nearly 10 points above Clinton, that's saying more than any political analyst/commentator thought; for them, a 3-5 point lead on Hillary was already more than impressive. Polls in N.H. reflect the same numbers Iowa did in the last few days. If by S.C. Obama has two victories, their significant black population should back him and by "Super Dooper Tuesday," America will most likely just be following the pack.

Posted by: Tony at January 4, 2008 3:42 PM

Everyone here, except a few first-time visitors, can win the battle against tolerance fatigue you speak of--you're preaching to the choir. Which is good, but we who want some real change have got to also hit the streets in the next year. What are we all actually doing in our lives to help this thing happen?

Tears were in my eyes last night before I knew it. Because given all the factors, I've been getting pessimistic about the chance of a real change agent being allowed to succeed. And like you, for a few minutes I allowed the possibility that maybe, just maybe Obama has the right stuff to make it happen. I'm going to get out and do what I can to help make it happen between now and next November. I can feel good being a part of this.

Hilary and Edwards would be an improvement over the current assholes, but Obabma has a longer view, and JFK-caliber charisma, and that's what it's going to take to even hope to turn things around in America after 7 unbelievably fucked-up years.

Please get out there also, one way or another.

Posted by: V i a at January 4, 2008 5:33 PM

I agree with tolerance fatigue, but it might not be a good idea to bring up white racism on the one hand, and then talk about Gomer Pyle whitey from the south. Practice what you preach. And don't say, "Oh, you know what I mean," because if you do, well, who's the one stereotyping? Good luck to Obama in 2008! And all the Democrats!

Posted by: kilgatron at January 4, 2008 8:50 PM

I don't think my description of Mike Huckabee contained any stereotyping.. he is, in fact, a white male fundamentalist christian from the south who resembles Gomer Pyle, etc.. I doubt that Mike Huckabee himself would deny that is a very white, very christian, christian white guy. And there's nothing wrong with that. I actually find him quite likable at least on a personal level..

But I'm suggesting it could become relevant because if voters do suffer tolerance fatigue and regress into voting based on such superficial judgements, all of Huckabee's superficial qualities that I listed make him an ideal candidate to benefit from it.

(although I'm not convinced Huckabee will win the nomination, BTW)

Posted by: Jay Smooth at January 4, 2008 9:08 PM

I usually read the blog from the sidelines (and don't comment), but I have been having similar conversations with Barack enthusiasts who think he has already won the Presidency, when he hasn't even won the Democratic nomination. I wasn't swift enough to term it "tolarance fatigue," but my points have been a) exit polls aren't always reliable, and b) New Hampshire is a VERY different caucus/primary than Iowa.

I'm glad to see Obama make history; I just warn folks that he hasn't won it all yet.

As usual, Jay, your post is on point.

Posted by: Brother Spotless at January 4, 2008 10:42 PM

Thanks for the pep talk. I for one am fairly confident I won't suffer from tolerance fatigue. Maybe my flaw is that I always vote minority and female, because I am minority and female. It's a slam dunk for me, unless someone significantly sways me in another direction. Doubtful though. Probably not the best voting tactic, but hey, I have my right to vote, and that's what I choose to do with it. Gotta love America.

Posted by: liz at January 4, 2008 11:39 PM

Usually you manage to identify the heart of the matter - but you're W A Y off on this one...

The phenomenon you described has NOTHING to do with "tolerance fatigue", simply because white people do not look at Obama as a 'black' man, and thus have no need to 'tolerate' him as one!!

Obama's appeal has always been as the "anti-black"; That is, a black man who has the physical appearance of an African American male and little to none of the perceived 'baggage'(anti-establishment post-slavery mentality, ebonically tinged speech, etc.).

If the phenomenon you described has any general explanation, it is two part:

Black Voters -
1. Black People's 'hatred' of Black People's success

This may sound controversial though it really isn't. I am not going to speculate as to why but it is the case that generally, Black people tend to support their own LESS and with a lesser intensity than nearly every other ethnicity. I cite as an example the Jena 6 rallies which brought an estimated 20,000(including whites) versus the 300,000 Latinos who rallied in Chicago against the Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005.

Non Black Voters -
2. Fear of voting 'wrong'

The voting day, "in-the-booth" hesitation, hedging, and back-tracking stems wholly from the fear of choosing 'wrong' or in other words, 'picking a loser', 'picking against your parents(spouse,neighbor,workmate,classmate,society,etc.)

Quite frankly, after talking to numerous people of all ethnicities trying to understand their political thought process, these are the two obstacles facing any Black candidate (and which are responsible for the phenomenon of which you speak.

Furthermore, it being the case that at this point in the nomination process you pretty much have access to EVERY candidates stance on the home-run issues , the fact that you are "...not necessarily endorsing Obama..." and "...haven't decided yet what I'm doing in the primary..." perhaps means that you my friend are suffering from one (or both) of these ailments....


Posted by: Najirama at January 5, 2008 12:11 AM

Briefly cuz I'm on my way out:

"white people do not look at Obama as a 'black' man, and thus have no need to 'tolerate' him as one!!"

I think that's a bit of an overstatement, but Obama may in some ways be perceived differently than past Black candidates, which is one of several reasons I'm only calling it a "maybe" that Tolerance Fatigue/Bradley effect will set in. Another good sign is that there was no Bradley Effect in Harold Ford's race.. but the presidential election is a whole other thing, and it remains to be seen how that plays out.

Again I am citing this as a "maybe", not saying I think it will happen, but we should keep in mind that it could happen.

I am familiar with everyone's positions, yes. :) Several other candidates are a bit closer to my views than Obama, including Edwards and Kucinich. But I may still consider voting for Obama depending on how things play out between now and then, and how I feel my vote/support can have the most impact.

Posted by: Jay Smooth at January 5, 2008 12:32 AM

I was thrilled to see Barack take Iowa. And I will be more thrilled to see him take New Hampshire, which is a categorically "purple" state. Consider me skeptical about South Carolina, but by that point two victories will overshadow that. The thing about Obama is that he represents a paradigm shift in America. This election is much more different than the last one where much of the country voted for the anti-Bush. We are now looking to elect someone who can put together a cabinet of intelligent and sensible professionals who can reduce the damage and harm that's been done and hopefully bring us out of the inevitable recession. There are issues not addressed yet that will be the test of each of the runners abilities. This will no doubt be one of the most exciting and historical election processes, and every chance I meet someone of voting age, I ask if they are registered.

Posted by: Jay B at January 5, 2008 1:03 AM

I'm interested to hear your take on this:

Posted by: Peter at January 5, 2008 1:10 AM

I'm not so sure Obama isn't viewed as being black, but rather that he's viewed as being "an acceptable minority candidate", or "a good one" as it used to be put. That is, if he's elected, it's viewed that Obama's Presidency won't focus too much on race (A-A's in particular). Barack isn't viewed in the same way as, say, Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton in that sense. No one wants to be forgotten once the election is over, especially the majority.

Nonetheless, if Obama wins the nomination, we'll all be reminded of his race on a daily basis once he's squaring off against a Republican opponent. It's not in the best interest of any Democratic candidate to ostracize African American voters. Republicans, on the other hand, have won without that vote before, and might even find it advantageous to highlight the race issue. Since none of the Republican candidates are running on the idea that they're more Christian than Christ, that party is having trouble connecting with their religious-right base. That religious-right base also happens to be primarily whites in the South and Midwest, the same people that would most likely view Obama's race as a vice (remember McCain's black baby?).

Posted by: crjacobsen at January 5, 2008 3:07 AM

this video could be misconstrued pretty easily Jay..
I know it's not your intentions, but some people will see this like a vote not for obama is a vote for intolerance, and that's a pretty fragile terrain to tread.

That said, I'd vote for Obama, I'm not an american so maybe I'm not as hung up on it as an american and perhaps not as prone to reconsidering my decision.
All I really hope for is that people vote, I think after bush everyone should be motivated to vote, I know I sure as hell would be.

Posted by: TakaM at January 5, 2008 4:16 AM

Just here to show my support to you & your work.
Speechless, dude brings the truth to the youth.
Spread the word.

Posted by: Roberto Blake at January 5, 2008 3:29 PM

I see you on NPR (News and Notes). Keep it coming!

Posted by: ThePurpleExperience at January 7, 2008 1:23 PM

You've hit the nail on the head! Best description of how I feel about Obama's win.

On the flip side black America supposed to go out and vote for him just to make history happen? History happened when we integrated school and drank at the same water fountains as whites and while that's given us better chances to advance as a race, I don't think it's changed the way white America relates to us when it comes to the heart of any matter. We've made strides in America on paper with race relations but there are still black Americans who become the target of "white collar racism". I can't help but wonder what we think will be accomplished if Obama wins and whatever it is, I hope that we are realistic about our expectations. More than that, I hope we all(black, white, or whatever race) vote for him because he is capable of doing the job. If he makes history in the process, great. At the end of the day our focus on the color of his skin and what he will do for black history is what will add to this voter's fatigue...everybody voting for him because they think they want to be a part of something historical. If people study the issues instead and realize that he is best fit to do the job, then maybe they'd be more likely to get in there and vote for him "for real" in November.

Posted by: MishelmyBelle at January 8, 2008 2:52 AM

what happened in New Hampshire??

Posted by: buba (belgium) at January 8, 2008 6:35 PM

I think the people of New Hampshire woke up yesterday morning and had a little tolerance fatigue. They said to themselves exactly what you said "am I really ready to vote for a Black man for President" well they answered by voting for an imperial presidency and that is too bad because I believe Obama is the true voice of change

Posted by: Tom D at January 9, 2008 8:50 AM

^^^ jay called it

Posted by: Bunk Moreland at January 9, 2008 11:34 AM

1- hell isnt cold and 2. new york isnt cold

-robin from canada... which explains why i have no real comments on the content of your video.

my vote: Immortal Technique

Posted by: robin613 at January 10, 2008 2:50 AM

Hey Smooth,
Thanks for the shout out.
Just got back from a train and road trip through Southern Africa; had to veer clear of Kenya. Anyway, that was the best visual ending of a Vlog far.

Man, you is the...(whatever the current hip phrase is these days).

Anon…….anthony – T (from thePatterson’s takingthetraintoTibet.)

Posted by: audiodramatist at January 10, 2008 1:51 PM

So quickly, you were right. Or were you? "The Hillary Effect" from The Huffington Post- http ://

LOVE your stuff.

Posted by: ellen at January 10, 2008 11:38 PM

You made the face. Just after telling us you 'believe in America' you made the face. I don't want to make that face anymore - I just want know we're ready and smile. Smirk even because I can't freaking wait. I spent that November morning crying on my toilet lid - not this year.

Posted by: Renée at January 22, 2008 10:50 PM

it's not about voting for a BLACK guy - its about voting for someone to replace BUSH and clean his mess up! BTW - NOT voting for someone white because they are white is just a prejudice as not voting for Obama because he is black! There is a HUGE race problem in America - and it isn't just with whites!

Posted by: Hear me Roar at January 23, 2008 2:46 PM

It's March 17th and he's still winning.

Knock on keyboard, kjkjik, but we're still going strong.

Posted by: Mag at March 17, 2008 4:33 PM

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