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Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of Barack Obama's election as the first black US president. Ten years! What an epic night. People were celebrating in the streets like the original ending of Return of the Jedi. Black folks were crying ... good tears, not the "does anyone know the nearest stop for the Underground Railroad?" tears from 2016. We had achieved something unprecedented. So many states, including Florida or Georgia, had never even had a black governor (not yet) but the US had a black commander-in-chief. It was a milestone Americans of all races could appreciate, because it meant that racism was officially over. A former coworker had already insisted this happened in 2003 when Halle Berry won an Oscar (so "Spike Lee can just shut up!") but this was less irrational.

I tend to only use the term "post-racial America" ironically, but the notion was promoted in all earnestness back in 2008 when Obama looked to do the impossible. The beautiful dream was that the country was becoming more diverse and more tolerant. The less attractive reality was we were only becoming more diverse.

When Obama crushed war hero John McCain, black voters made up 13 percent of the electorate. White voters were 74 percent -- a staggering 15 percent drop since Ronald Reagan's 1980 victory over Jimmy Carter. Roughly the same percentage of white people voted for McCain as they did Reagan.


There was so much collective back-slapping, most of us happily ignored this fact and its implications. I recall a white high school classmate posting on Facebook that Obama wasn't actually the first "black" president but the first "biracial" president. His mother was white, after all, and his white grandparents raised him. Yeah, there was a brief period when even conservatives wanted a piece of the Barack.

Obama was able to run a color-blind campaign in 2008 (unlike Hillary Clinton in 2016 who confronted racism and a racist opponent head-on). George W. Bush had wrecked the economy, and even white folks in Mike Pence's home state of Indiana was willing to put the black guy in charge if he could turn things around, which he did. But Republicans soon realized that Obama would prove easy to demonize and obstruct: Although Bill Clinton had mostly tied with Bush and Dole for the white vote, Obama had overwhelmingly lost it. All that was necessary was to wait for his misstep, the opening where they could convince white America to stop seeing Obama as a pre-rape Bill Cosby/pre-murder O.J. celebrity but instead as a black man, as someone who wasn't on their side. This occurred when Obama dared defend a personal friend who was unjustly arrested for breaking into his own home (at least he wasn't shot).

"Gates-Gate" was in hindsight like the "bigger than Jesus" moment that ended Beatlemania. Soon we got Tea Party rallies, and a Tea Party Congress. And morons including one who'd later become president started to question whether Obama was even born in the United States. I rejected Clinton in 2008 early on because I shamefully thought she had too much "baggage." I naively thought that the Right couldn't repeat the same hit job on the mild-mannered Obama. How wrong I was.

The white Left tired of Obama after a couple years --- sort of like what happened to Michael Jackson after "Thriller." Obama was just another "warmonger" because they'd forgotten he was elected president of America not Care Bear Land. He was a "corporate stooge" because he only helped millions gain access to affordable health care. If he'd only just wished away Republicans and Joe Lieberman, we could've all had the Canadian hook up. And I wouldn't have had to pay for my bionic arm out of pocket like a sucker.

But black folks showed up for Obama in 2012. C'mon, we're the ones who bought Michael's "Invincible" album the day of release. You had to know we'd be there for our boy Barack. The Romney campaign sure didn't. They modified their internal polls to reflect the black voter turnout of pre-Civil War America. They couldn't conceive of old black ladies on walkers enduring ridiculous long lines to keep Obama out of the One-Termers Club with Jimmy Carter.

Romney did carry 59 percent of the white vote to Obama's 39 percent. That was roughly equal to the performance of George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis, but white voters were 85 percent of the white electorate in 1988 and just 72 percent in 2012. It's as if white people weren't solely selecting the president. That can't be right. It's hardly a surprise that Chief Justice John Roberts would decide just one year later that we don't need really need the Voting Rights Act.

Black voters truly flexed our electoral might in 2012, and ever since, the efforts to suppress our vote are obvious and unrelenting. Regardless, we kept a mall-cruising perv out of the Senate, and tomorrow we might save the country. It's exhausting, often terrifying, work. But we won't let Obama be our last hurrah. You know why? Because on November 4, 2008, we were happy, and maybe the joy lasted as long as Black Panther was in theaters, but they can't take it away from us.

That day has personal resonance with me, because it was one of the last times I spoke with my mother. She watched Obama win but didn't live to see his inauguration. She was excited that night but not shocked. I'd gotten engaged that summer, so I think there was no more shock left in her.

Watch my favorite presidential acceptance speech until Kamala's in a couple years.

And now it is your OPEN THREAD.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Seattle. However, he's more reliable for food and drink recommendations in Portland, where he spends a lot of time for theatre work. His co-adaptation of "Jitterbug Perfume" by Tom Robbins runs from March through May at Pioneer Square's Cafe Nordo.

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CLEAR YOUR CALENDARS FOR FEBRUARY 7! And then fill them back up with whatever the fuck you want, because Michael Cohen has announced through his lawyers that he is too scared to testify before an open session of Congress that day, citing threats to his family from Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani.

Wonkette has no reason to believe Cohen isn't being serious here, and NBC News reports Cohen's wife and father-in-law are particularly concerned about their safety if the man who used to call his boss MIS-TURRRR TWUMP goes to Congress and tells the truth this time. Still, we must pause to note that this is the same guy who said this to NPR reporter Tim Mak, back when Mak was at The Daily Beast:

"I will make sure that you and I meet one day while we're in the courthouse. And I will take you for every penny you still don't have," Cohen told Mak [...] "And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know."

"So I'm warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I'm going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting. You understand me?"

It's not so fun when the shoe is on the other foot, IS IT, MICHAEL?

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Did Nancy Pelosi do something to give Donald Trump the mistaken impression he has leverage here? We don't remember her doing anything like that!

Trump sent Pelosi a letter this morning to say that, despite how she told him to stay the fuck out of her House because of his government shutdown, he would still be coming to the House on January 29 to deliver his State of the Union address. And for some weird-ass reason, Trump and his advisers in the White House actually thought she would back down. It's both hilarious and alarming that Trump and his people are that stupid, isn't it?

Anyway, Pelosi took the dare. She took the dare. Was there anybody besides those dumb fucking idiots in the White House who thought she wouldn't take the dare?

Pelosi sent a letter right back to Trump to kindly explain to him that no means "go fuck yourself," and that if he'd like her to stick her foot further up his ass and kick it around a bunch, he's welcome to test her some more:

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