Like the biblical Samson, Trump will eventually bring the entire edifice of American conservatism crashing down around him. Some species of evangelical religion will ultimately rise from the rubble, but it will be greatly curtailed, politically irrelevant and, I pray, more recognizably Christian.
Ultimately, Jimmy proved to be too good for either the White House or his beloved Southern Baptist Convention. But he was never too good; just a little better than the rest of us. He was of our tribe.
Pro-slavery comments from the audience drew unwanted attention to a breakout session at last week’s CPAC convention. The session was called, “Trump the Race Card: Are You Sick and Tired of Being Called a Racist and You Know You’re Not One”. Unfortunately, some attendees were racist and proud of it. Or, to put the matter more delicately, they were proud of “their demographic” and feared that once-dominant white folks are gradually being disenfranchised. (more…)
By Alan Bean
Quentin Tarantino has definitely been reading Michelle Alexander. Last month, while talking up his new movie, Django Unchained on a Canadian talk show, the controversial film director launched into a discourse on the American war on drugs:
Like most celebrities with a limited grasp of the issues, Tarantino garbles his facts a bit. Most drug war prisoners aren’t held in private prisons and aren’t working for corporations who exploit prison labor. This happens, to be sure, but it isn’t the typical scenario. (more…)
By Alan Bean
The American electorate is more racially divided in 2012 than at any time in the recent memory. This encourages the simple conclusion that white Americans prefer Mitt Romney to Barack Obama because Mitt is white. But a recent report by the Public Religion Research Institute paints a far more complex portrait of the white American voter.
As has been widely reported, white women are about equally divided between the two candidates; it’s the men who break strongly for Romney. In 2008, Barack Obama carried a higher percentage of the white vote (41%) than any Democratic candidate since Jimmy Carter in 1976. Moreover, working class whites give Mitt Romney a favorability rating of 45% compared to Barack Obama’s 44%; among college educated whites, both men are favored by 49% of those surveyed. If white America throws its support behind the Republican candidate in tomorrow’s election (as they assuredly will) it has little to do with a birds-of-a-feather firing of mirror neurons.
The white electorate divides sharply along five distinct fault lines: education, gender, age, geography and religion. The Public Religion Research Institute Survey compares the white working class to college educated whites. College educated white voters favor Romney, but by a scant 2 points; the white working class favors Romney by 13 points (48-35).
In other words, when we are talking about “the white electorate” we are primarily talking about white working class voters. In this election, 80% of minority votes will go to the Democrat; Romney will be the overwhelming favorite of the white working class; and white college educated voters will fall somewhere in between these extremes. Since white middle class voters comprise 36% of the voting population, their clout is difficult to exaggerate. White college educated voters account for 21% of the electorate, black voters, 11%, and Latino voters, 13%. (For the poll under discussion 11% of white voters are neither working class or college educated).
As we have seen, white women are far more likely to favor Obama than their brothers, boy friends and husbands; and this applies just as much to the white middle class (41%-41%) as to white college educated women. White working class males, on the other hand, will favor Romney by 27 points (57%-28%). It should be noted, however, that working class males making less than $30,000 divide their votes evenly between Obama and Romney while working class males who have received food stamps in the past two years, favor Obama by a margin of 48% to 36%. The authors of the study use this data to argue that the white working class, contrary to popular opinion, do not always vote against their perceived interests. (more…)
By Alan Bean
An article in the Guardian, a British paper, discusses the challenges the rising tide of Latino voters in the United States poses for the Republican Party. Gary Younge argues that the ill-famed “Southern Strategy” made sense when white Americans comprised 85% of the electorate, but has become problematic in an age when the majority of babies born in the United States are non-white. These babies are almost two decades from voting age, however, so 74% of voters are still white. According to today’s Washington Post poll, Mitt Romney holds a commanding twenty-three-point lead among white voters.
This is the major dilemma for the Republican Party: racially loaded messages may appeal to many white voters, but they lose you minority votes. You can win white votes by railing against the entitlement-addicted 47% and the crime-prone “illegals” who cross the border in search of welfare, but not without giving Latinos and African-Americans a bad name. White racial resentment remains the greatest single force in American politics. The economy tops everyone’s list as an election season concern, but these issues are viewed through a racial lens. Black voters cannot be persuaded that Obama wrecked the American economy; white voters can.
Three-quarters of white evangelicals vote Republican. If you ask them why, they certainly won’t tell you they feel more comfortable voting for a white man. They may say that Obama is a free-spending socialist and we need a president who believes in American capitalism. But most, I suspect, will say it’s all about abortion. Republicans want to stop the Holocaust and Democrats don’t–simple as that. (more…)
By Alan Bean
As things presently stand, Mitt Romney can count on 60% of the white vote, 33% of the Latino vote and 0% of the African American vote.
Not 5% . . . 0%. There may be a few thousand black Republicans nationwide willing to pull the lever for the white guy, but there aren’t enough of them to constitute a single percentage point.
I would have thought that a small but measurable contingent of black voters would be with the Republican candidate. He is the pro-life, anti-gay rights candidate, after all, and black evangelicals have a reputation for being pro-life and anti-gay rights.
And what about the small sliver of the black electorate wealthy enough to be helped by Republican fiscal policy? What’s with those guys?
According to the Washington Post, Republican candidates like George W. Bush and Bob Dole captured just over 10% of the black vote. Hardly a stellar performance, but an improvement on an absolute electoral vacuum.
The lack of Latino enthusiasm for Mitt Romney is understandable. A harsh anti-immigrant stance lay at the heart of Romney’s primary season strategy and the new Republican Party platform shifts to the right of their standard bearer.
Romney made a point of attending the NAACP conference in July where he claimed to be the candidate who would do the most for African Americans.
No one was fooled.
When the Republican candidate used his NAACP address to flay “Obamacare” it was obvious that the folks assembled before him weren’t his real audience. Romney’s cynical handlers were hoping that the sight of their man being booed and heckled, however politely, by a room of black opinion leaders would help his standing with the white electorate.
And we’re not talking about the conservative white voters who wouldn’t vote for Obama if you held a gun to their heads. The message was aimed at white swing voters; the folks on the fence.
This level of cynicism has characterized Republican political algebra since the notorious Southern Strategy was cobbled together in the late 1960s. Racial resentment runs so deep in America that a solid majority of white voters can be manipulated by a thinly-veiled racial pitch.
You can’t be too gross about it, of course, no one outside a few counties in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia wants to be accused of overt, “I love the Nigra, in his place” bigotry. But whenever Romney contrasts Obama’s entitlement nation with the personal responsibility America dear to the hearts of Republicans he’s fishing in the slough of racial resentment.
When white voters think welfare, they think black, and Romney’s handlers know it. The bogus complaint that Obama has scaled back work requirements in the welfare-to-work system doesn’t have to be true. To most white swing voters, sending out checks no-questions-asked is just the sort of thing a black president would do for his kind.
This is called “dog whistle” politics, the theory being that only conservative whites can hear the high-pitched whine of racial resentment. Although, from a Republican perspective, it hardly matters, the ears of African Americans have become highly attuned to dog whistle politics over the years, and for good reason. If you’re black, that ear-splitting siren always spells trouble.
This year the squeal is so loud and persistent that zero percent of African American voters fail to hear it. It’s white moderates, the kind who generally vote for Democrats, who remain deaf to the whistle, and so long as that’s true the Southern Strategy marches on.