Has President Obama Deepened The Racial Divide? Is That A Good Thing?

In the 2008 election, Barack Obama ran on a platform of hope and change. Then-senator Obama pledged that he would unify the country, that he would pull us all together.

But that hasn’t happened. In fact, according to numerous polls, the United States is more polarized now than it was in the closing days of George W. Bush’s reign, (though that may not be surprising since a majority of Americans agreed that a new direction was needed at that time). President Obama’s initiatives have divided more than united, as well. The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, the centerpiece of President Obama’s first term — and to his presidency as a whole, one might argue — struck a deep nerve in millions of Americans. There was an outpouring of support from the left that someone was finally doing something about the lack of affordable health insurance in the United States for all American citizens. There was also an outpouring of derision from the right, stating that Obamacare didn’t give Americans any decent solutions, was difficult to procure, and penalized those that already had insurance.

Whichever side of the coin of Obamacare you come down on, what almost everyone can agree on is that the institution of the healthcare program further divided the country.

And there is race.

The election of the first African American President in this nation’s history is a profound step in our country’s evolution, in fact, the level of impact and importance on the American Experiment probably won’t be fully realized until it is several decades into our collective rearview.

When Barack Obama took the oath of office, there certainly was little doubt in the minds of Americans that at some point during his presidency, Obama would have to deal with events that would — at the very least — spark fervent issues about race.

President Obama and Racism [Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]Of course, President Obama understood the racial issues, as well. Obama tried to address the head on, as in a 2008 speech in Philadelphia.

“Working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.”

And then actual events started to affect the way that Americans looked at each other. Racial profiling. Police attacks on minorities — whether warranted or not — have caused deep, deep divisions in this country in the last decade. Obama’s terms as president have also coincided with the smartphone boom, meaning that almost anyone, anywhere, can provide the rest of the world of video footage of, well, anything. It wasn’t so long ago that if a police officer attacked an unarmed minority, the resulting complaint was a case of he said/he said. Now, however, there is footage that can be uploaded to the collective mind of the rest of the world, often before the incident is even over.

In other words, acts of injustice are becoming increasingly difficult to hide.

So, what of it? A recent CNN poll states that in the last ten years, 25 percent of Americans feel that racial tension has stayed the same in the United States, 10 percent of the population feels that racial tension has decreased, and a whopping 64 percent feels that tension has increased, all under President Obama’s watch.

Obama and Racism [Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]Of course, President Obama’s second term is almost over. So, then what? Is a black president really the issue with increased racial tensions, or is it just a culmination of our history and the state of affairs in America today?

One writer, Isaac J. Bailey, a Politico commentator, actually thinks that the deepening racial divide under President Obama is a good thing. Bailey states that for the last quarter of a century, the racial issue in the United States has been swept under the rug, so to speak. Instead of confronting racism head on, our country has agreed on an unspoken “phony” peace that in the end solves nothing. Bailey states that the deepening of the racial divide under Obama is actually forcing all Americans to examine how they feel about racism, and what they want to do about it.

What do you think? Is America more racially divided now than it was when Obama took office?

[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]