Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Republican Party Is Racist, Whether You Like It or Not.

Today's Republican Party, er, I mean Bob Jones University students getting
ready for Missionary work in Australia (whaa, no Christians there?).

I'm not picking on Bob Jones University or Christians per se, but, like it or not, Bob Jones is emblematic of the problem the GOP created for themselves. George W. Bush famously spoke there early in his campaign, an event that also famously forced the university to end its ban on interracial dating.

Why would Bush speak at such a racist institution in the first place? Why, for the same reason Ronald Reagan opening his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the town in the deep South where three civil-rights workers had been slain in the 1960s. Reagan's reasons for starting there are clear, and so was his use in the speech of "states' rights," which most astute political observers recognize as code words for "small government" and "individual freedom," which Southerners clearly understood to mean "the Feds should stay the hell out of the integration business and leave the South alone."

Read this article in Slate some years back by David Greenberg for all the nuances of the phrase as Reagan used it.

Since the devastating loss to a black man (again) in 2012, the Republican Party has been working around the edges of forging a way to attract black and Latino voters, as well as young adults, into the fold. It has not gone well, to say the least.

Most Hispanics don't perceive these white Americans preventing a bus
full of child refugees from being transported from one detention center
to the other as being Democrats. Problem for the GOP? You bet.

I might throw in, parenthetically, that Democrats don't deny that, prior to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, Southern Democrats were decidedly racist. Quite the contrary, we know they were. They weren't called Dixiecrats for nothing. It's just that, as Lyndon Johnson well knew when he signed the Civil Rights Act, these Southern Democrats turned to the Republican Party, where they remain today, in spite of conservative attempts at denial and revision. (Here's a link to analysis of Kevin Williamson's preposterous claims.)

Charts can tell this story well. The 1956 election:

The 1964 election:

Any questions?

Now, in 2014, the Republican Party finds it nearly impossible to reset its public image. Why is that? It's because its core ideology is based on, among other things, a deep-seated racism, which is why its reboot is so hard if not impossible. The 2012 electoral map:

Voter breakdown by gender and race:

Yes, Southern Whites, especially men, have swung to the GOP. Women, blacks, Latinos, and Asians, not so much. So, the question is, who thinks whom is racist? The answer is obvious, don't you think?

Now, let's be clear. All Republicans aren't racist, and all Democrats aren't card-carrying members of the NAACP. I'm a liberal, progressive, socialist Democrat, and I recognize my own insidious racist tendencies and my participation, for the better part of my life, in the institutional racism that scars our national identity. The difference is I want to let it go, grow out of it, acknowledge it, and then fight it.

Republicans, by and large, aren't there yet. In fact, their "there" is essentially racist, and the white Southern Christian male clearly embraces it. Until that changes, charges of racism will haunt the GOP, as it should. Non-Southern conservatives might want to change, but how many are prepared to call out their party's base? Damned few.

Where's Waldo, Romney-style. Where are the blacks, Latinos, Asians? Nuff said.

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