The year began with Republicans talking minority outreach.
But seven months have passed and now a new poll shows Republicans generally view President Barack Obama less favorably than George Zimmerman, the man who shot an unarmed black teen from Miami Gardens in a case that African-Americans nationally view as racial.
“The African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that — that doesn’t go away,” Obama said the Friday before last, disclosing that he had felt the sting of racial prejudice and profiling.
“Those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida.”
Hispanics, too, have a different historical experience from non-Hispanic whites when it comes to another issue: immigration.
This is not the minority outreach national Republican leaders wanted.
They’ve condemned King’s comments and kept quiet about Obama’s comments on race and the Zimmerman case.
But the reaction from the far right — not so much the grassroots as the crazyroots — is another story. The crazyroots quickly decried Obama’s “race hustling,” even as some engaged in prejudicial stereotyping.
Less vehement and hostile, the far left race-baits as well, branding as “racist” those who talk about black-on-black crime or Trayvon’s troubles with school suspensions and marijuana.
These are the extremes of right and left, white and black, the ones who rant in disturbing emails, Tweets, and blogs. They probably don’t represent the vast majority.
But the racial and ethnic polarization is bound to affect the 2014 mid-term elections by pulling the political center left or right.
Which way? That’s anyone’s guess.