by Mumia abu-Jamal; this article was originally published in Partisan issue no. 26, printed September 2008.

Nader. He can't be too Black.

Long-time consumer advocate and perennial presidential candidate Ralph Nader has been sounding off on Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama as a Black man who has been far too careful to not be seen as "too Black." Nader argues that Obama has been this way because he does not want to offend the white corporate structure.

Obama responded by saying that Nader simply wants attention. Black Democratic operatives have attacked Nader as old-fashioned, out of the loop, or simply silly.

Is speaking about the absolutely dire conditions of poor Black folk old-fashioned, or somehow uncool? Apparently it is. There is such a profound distaste for the Bush regime and all they represent that Obama has gotten, is getting, and probably will get a free ride. That has more to do with his image than his substance.

Most folks haven't studied his positions on various issues. In many ways this is the nature of politics. How many people convinced themselves that George W. Bush was a nice guy who you would want to have a beer with? He was a so-called "compassionate conservative," who spoke about US foreign policy being "'umble," or humble.

He had a bipartisan track record, and had executive experience as a governor. Moreover, he was the eldest son of a president. What could go wrong?

The rest is infamy and disaster.

None of us really knows what a president will bring. And the emptiness of modern presidential campaigns seems designed to keep us as ignorant as stones.

Presidential candidates are sold like coffee or cornflakes. One is generally as good or bad as any other. It's just that the ad market has conditioned tens of millions of us to get what's branded as new or improved. This year's model of presidential candidate is the non-Bush brand.

Obama's forehead might as well be stamped "new, improved and not too Black."

Nader is one smart cookie. He has personally saved more lives than an average army. He knows what he's talking about. But to millions of folks, it won't matter. The ABB syndrome, or "Anybody But Bush," is like a massive tidal wave, and Obama is surfing that energy. Millions may look back with profound regret several years from now, when their economic fates are worse, their neighborhood schools are even worse, and the Iraq is still a dull ache in the soul.

Politics: Selling anticipation over and over again.

Column copyright Mumia Abu-Jamal 7/3/08. Mumia Abu-Jamal is a Pennsylvania radical journalist imprisoned since 1982 after being falsely convicted of killing a police officer. For the latest on the struggle for justice for Mumia, go to This column may be freely republished. The only requirement is that you run it unedited, with every word intact, including copyright information, and send a copy of the publication to: Mumi Abu-Jamal, SCI-Greene, 175 Progress Drive,Waynesburg PA 15370

Professional Joomla Support by IDL Web Inc.