Tag: politics and religion

Abortion and white evangelicals

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…)

Gramma Jesus, Jubillee theology and the New Jim Crow

Dr. Iva Carruthers

By Alan Bean

Yesterday, I spent eight hours listening to Texans talk about the impact of mass incarceration (more on that in a moment).  This morning I am sitting in a McDonald’s in Beaumont, Texas eating an Egg McMuffin and listening to the weather channel compete with FOX news.  I usually tell the young woman behind the counter (if, as is usually the case, she is African American) that FOX is insulting to our president and that upsets me.  But I don’t have the energy for that this morning.

I am in Beaumont to visit Ramsey Muniz, the Latino political leader serving a federal life sentence for his part in a non-existent narcotics conspiracy.   Normally, visitors are allowed to enter the visitor’s area at 8:30, but this morning we were told that we would have to wait three hours to see our loved ones because “we’re doing a fog count.”

It isn’t foggy in Beaumont.  Seasonably humid, perhaps, but you can see for miles in any direction.  The sign on the prison door says, “No visitation until 11:30.”  No, “we apologize for the inconvenience,” or “please accept our apology, but . . .”  This is prison, folks.

I informed the four twenty-something attendants in the visitation area that this kind of messaging combined with a totally unnecessary “fog count” constitutes an insult to the families who have come to visit.  They reacted as if I was being a smart-ass (which I was).  The rules are the rules.  Fog counts are very serious business.  Some inmate might wander off in the fog.  The fact that there is no fog this morning changes nothing.

So I got in my car and drove fifteen miles to this McDonald’s.  I can afford the $3.50 in gas; most of the other visitors cannot.  They will sit in the parking log for three long hours, trying to keep the toddlers entertained.  The shame and disgrace of incarceration clings to the families of the incarcerated.

Which brings me back to yesterday’s full day of testimony concerning prisons, inmates, inmates-in-waiting (the children of the incarcerated) and the mechanics of the New Jim Crow. (more…)

Would you vote for Jesus?

By Alan Bean

Richard Cohen asks why the GOP is beating up on Mitt Romney.  Sure, the Republican candidate “espouses extreme positions he does not for a moment believe.”  But what are his options?  Republicans who hope to survive the Iowa caucuses are forced so far to the right that they surrender mainstream appeal.  If they win Iowa, their feet are nailed to the floor.

Cohen thinks this explains why GOP politicians with talent and intelligence refused to enter the 2012 presidential follies–they saw the train wreck coming.  Romney won, in Cohen’s view, because he was the most competent navigator on a ship of fools.

I suspect the Washington Post columnist is right, but how do we account for an electorate that forces Republican candidates to deny climate change, suggest that the US Constitution is a Christian document and kiss off the scientific community while systematically alienating Latinos, African Americans and women?  How do we explain the strength of the Tea Party?  Yeah, I know the Koch brothers have backed these insurgents with their megabucks, but it takes more than money to make a movement.  There is some genuine outrage simmering in the heartland.

And why, despite Mitt Romney’s lackluster campaigning and embarrassing gaffes, is this race still close?  Why is Barack Obama, a reputed radical socialist Muslim extremist, afraid to reference mass incarceration, mass deportation, pardons and commutations, Guantanamo, global warming, NAFTA, single payer health care, the rapid disappearance of American manufacturing, labor’s right to organize, a crumbling infrastructure, the tragedy of Iraq or the utter futility of Afghanistan? (more…)