The Racist Vote

There’s much chattering among the blogs today about Kevin Merida’s Washington Post story about racism and the Obama campaign. In particular, young volunteers working “on the ground” are encountering unvarnished, full-frontal racism for the first time. For example,

Victoria Switzer, a retired social studies teacher, was on phone-bank duty one night during the Pennsylvania primary campaign. One night was all she could take: “It wasn’t pretty.” She made 60 calls to prospective voters in Susquehanna County, her home county, which is 98 percent white. The responses were dispiriting. One caller, Switzer remembers, said he couldn’t possibly vote for Obama and concluded: “Hang that darky from a tree!” …

… On Election Day in Kokomo, a group of black high school students were holding up Obama signs along U.S. 31, a major thoroughfare. As drivers cruised by, a number of them rolled down their windows and yelled out a common racial slur for African Americans, according to Obama campaign staffers.

Of course, the rightie bloggers deny that reactions such as this to the Obama campaign have anything to do with racism. Nor does a T-shirt portraying Obama as a monkey with a banana have anything to do with racism, according to this guy.

When a story hits this many outlets simultaneously it’s pretty clear that there is a coordinated effort to establish a new “meme.” This meme: if you’re white and vote against Obama, you’re an ignorant racist.

This will be a common theme right through the election in November: racism may cost Barack, the post-racial candidate, the election (white racism that is, blacks voting over 90% for Obama isn’t “racism.” It’s payback, just like the verdicts in the Reginald Denny case were payback).

This is what decades of affirmative action and racial victimhood politics have done to American society.

Perhaps the above is what decades of brain-cell-destroying chemicals in drinking water have done to American society.

Most of the anecdotes in the story take place in Indiana and Pennsylvania, where the famous white working-class voters gave their votes to Hillary Clinton. Publius writes,

… let’s face it — race is playing a big role not just there, but throughout the Midwestern white working classes.

That’s not saying all white working-class Americans feel this way, or even that most do. But a lot do — and everyone knows it. And that’s a big reason why Clinton is up by such obscene margins in West Virginia and Kentucky. We should stop pretending otherwise.

There are legitimate reasons one might prefer Clinton to Obama as a presidential candidate. However, when we see consistently that white, older, less-educated voters tend to prefer Clinton, it’s, um, naive to assume that all those folks made their decisions based on those legitimate reasons.

Coming from a white, small-town, working-class background myself, I suspect many of those Clinton voters are profoundly ignorant people with limited experience of the world outside their (often racially homogeneous) communities. And if you’ve spent much time with die-hard white racists, you might notice they are not so much sinister as they are profoundly unremarkable. Without race, they’d have little self-identity at all.

And although racism trumps sexism with this group, better-educated Clinton supporters shouldn’t kid themselves that those older, white, working-class Clinton voters won’t prefer McCain in November. Time and time again, these are the same voters easily manipulated into voting for whatever knuckle-dragging troglodyte the GOP is selling. Of course, it’s not “CC” (conservatively correct) to say this out loud.

Kyle Moore writes,

I’ve bitten my tongue. I’ve tried not to essentially point out what I have personally viewed as the “racist vote.” I’ve refrained from looking at the split in West Virginia, and while I’ve whispered it here and there, I’ve held back at saying, “OF COURSE HE’S GOING TO LOSE THERE! THOSE PEOPLE ARE RACIST AS FUCK!”

And why? Because the campaign hasn’t done that, and because I’m afraid of, what? Pissing off white people? Making them feel guilty? Stirring up racial tensions that I know to exist?

Because I still want them to vote the Democratic ticket in the fall?

Don’t cause too much of a ruckus. Folks are going to be racist, but it’s not the American thing to do to call them out on it. The folks who wave the Nazi flag, they’re okay to call out, but heaven forbid you should discuss the racial tensions the Bars and Stars evoke.

And all of a sudden it seemed silly. We’re looking at how Obama can’t win the white vote in the Appalachians and the Rust Belt and the SOUTH of all places, and we’re pretending it has something to do with him being elitist because we’re all too afraid to insult white folks by claiming maybe some of them, maybe just an eensy teensy bit of them might be just a little itty bitty bit racist.

On the positive side, I understand younger votes in these same areas are more likely than not to support Obama. But if Obama wins the nomination and then the election, it might signal to politicians going forward that you don’t have to pander, wink and nod at the racist vote to win elections. And wouldn’t that be grand?

On the other hand, Gary Kamiya writes,

McCain isn’t running against just any Democrat but against a black liberal named Barack Hussein Obama. Obama’s name may be the most potent weapon in the GOP’s armory. If you want to believe that America is a governable country of informed citizens and not a nation of ignorant, Fox News-watching sheep, the single most depressing fact to come out of the Bush years is that vast numbers of Americans continue to believe that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the 9/11 attacks. According to a 2003 Washington Post poll, nearly 70 percent of Americans believed that. And in a poll taken last September, 33 percent of Americans still believed it — presumably the same 30-odd percent of Americans who will vote for a Republican even if he is running on a platform of sacrificing all the nation’s firstborn children to Beelzebub.

Call it the Dumbshit Factor, the Nobody Home Problem, the Absentee Ballots from Mars Issue. Whatever you call it, it’s the Republicans’ built-in advantage this fall. If you’re not in the “reality-based community” infamously derided by a senior Bush official, then you won’t care if Iraq is a quagmire and the Middle East is a powder keg and the country is falling apart and the economy is on the verge of a depression and gas is $4.30 a gallon. You won’t care because you won’t know, or if you know you’ll blame it all on liberals, feminazis, evil bureaucrats and gays. As you watch Fox News from your Barcalounger orbiting somewhere beyond the confines of space, time and logic, you will vote for the old white guy with the Anglo-Saxon name, not a Muslim terrorist sympathizer who helped his cousin attack America.

Kamiya also says,

The issue is whether America is still the scared, reactionary, sclerotic, profoundly creaky nation that it has been for the last eight years, or whether it’s ready to shrug off the Bush era and begin anew.

That is the question, isn’t it? Are we going to continue to be led by the lowest-common-denominator candidates? Will ignorance and bigotry continue to be treated as virtues? Can we shake off the demagoguery of the dumb and apply something resembling intelligence to our national policy decisions?

11 thoughts on “The Racist Vote

  1. Harassment & nitpicking time:

    McCain is an Anglo-Saxon name? Now you’ve got Sinn Fein and the SNP on your case.

    Otherwise: Spot on.

  2. Well it did not work very well in my house where my wife insists that my deciding to vote for Obama was because of deepseated misogny and I thought that it best not to point out that my wife occasionally engages in some African American sterotyping herself. I think all people have a tendency to engage in tribalism and skin color is one of the easiest ways to identify a tribe. As a general rule I think where people of different skin colors interact closely on a regular basis that they tend to form tribes on the basis of other characteristics like income, education, political outlook etc. Similarly where there is virtually no contact with people who have different skin color, I think there is a greater tendency to form tribes on some other basis. While there are certainly the type of people you describe, the real problem for Obama are the white folks with Democratic tendencies who have some contact with Africa Americans but that contact is limited to seeing groups of young black people waiting for a bus with pants at mid thigh listening to loud and obscene rap music or reading about the latest drive by shooting or have lost out for a job, promotion or college spot and learned that an African American got the spot or being pan handled by an obviously alcoholic or drug abusing person with dark skin. Those folks likely will not consider themselves racist, but will have a hard time not feeling uneasy about voting for someone whose skin is darker than theirs. I admit that I am not entirely comfortable with Obama’s racial heritage (and his position on the Imus deal a year ago did not help), but in the end I was very comfortable with his intelligence, education and temperment. As to Clinton, I am mostly just tired of the old politics, particularly the Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton style, but I think the character flaw which lead her to make up the nonsense about dodging sniper fire sealed the deal.

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  4. I posted this elsewhere it it touches on the racial strife the elite might be planning to spring on us, which is what Obama is going to be about if he wins.

    “There is no difference between Republicans and Democrats in substance, just style. Republicans today molest you and make you feel soiled before hammering it home, Democrats call it foreplay and tell you it will feel good before they do the same, perhaps with a lubricant. I prefer the Clinton style of buggery, but would rather a Democracy where we all get off, to the Fascist rape (soft or hard) of the working class that is going on.

    This is why the next President will be a Democrat. Those on the right are waking up and starting to focus on government being the problem, even a Republican government. By having a Democrat as President, they will focus on their enemy, the Democrat, and not the fact that the government itself is fascist, no matter which party is in power.

    The liberals on the left have proven themselves to be spineless wimps. Before GWB I considered myself a Republican, now I know better and am neither a Republican nor a Democrat. The leaders of both are un-American and traitors to the constitution, and would be hung from the lamp-poles if people were able to see through the MSM propaganda and figure out what they have done.

    If the last 8 years had occured under a Clinton Presidency, the right would have been shooting up DC and Wall Street, aiming at the liberals, who wil fight back with their keyboards. Thats why the elite will feed them Obama or Hillary, and when things continue downhill, as they will, the right will revolt, and martial law can be imposed. That I believe is the elites plan.

    I think they prefer Obama, as they would love to re-establish the racial strife of the 60’s and early 70’s. They might even empty out some of the prisons to help fuel the fire, after all we do have the largest prison population in the world, and they get free health care, thats expensive.”

  5. Well, I’ll go with Martin Luther King’s admonition..”Judge a man by the content of his character, not the color of his skin.” With that watchword as my guide, Obama is the only candidate who holds up to my ideal of leadership and integity.

    I know racism is alive and well in America..I see it daily. And if racism prevails then it’ll be..America, you reap what you sow!

  6. Barb – I been drinkin’ some tonight so I unerstan ol’ PFT. Cuz he’s not a Repub or a Democrat and he can spot a conspiracy a mile off. The ‘elitists’ (and we all know who they are) have cooked up a deal to get Obama elected so he will bring about the racial strife of the 60’s which will allow the righties to impose martial law which will.. I dunno what it will do… But that’s the plan and I am going to have another drink. Gawd, I love a good comspiracy theory.

  7. Anyone who doesn’t vote for Obama is a racist, right?

    The Obama campaign has cried wolf on that one too many times.

  8. Wow! Hillary won West Virginia. “Surpire, surprise, surprise…”
    Hillary wins big in the states bordering the Appalachian Mountains. Draw your own conclusions…

    Yes, racism is alive and well. And many people will say one thing in public, while voting completely differently.
    That is why we need to ‘get out the vote’ with young people. That’s what we’re concentrating on here in my part of NC. They don’t look at the world the same way as do many of us older voters. They didn’t live through the Civil Right’s movement; through the Affirmative Action fights. There is resentment there… It is a resentment of economic’s – how come “they” move ahead and we don’t (and it is this, which breeds racism). I lived throught those years; was an activist for Affirmative Action, so, I I took away a different message than many older voters. And the young people may well be the difference. In fact, they will be.

    There are social movements in this country which come quickly and move us towards a more progressive future. And they seem to happen every 60 to 80 years. From the 1770’s and ’80’s, to the Civil War, to the 1930’s and ’40’s, to today. These movements wash away the past in a tsunami of sheer number’s wanting change. And change comes from the people, not from the leaders (Thom Hartman). And people are ready for change. Especially the young. And in that, there is hope…

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