Post-post-racial America


Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a freelance journalist and blogger. He considers Bob Dylan and Walter Sobchak to be the two great Jewish thinkers of our time; he thinks Kafka was half-right when he said there was hope, "but not for us"; and he can be reached through the twitter via @eliasisquith or via email. The opinions he expresses on the blog and throughout the interwebs are exclusively his own.

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230 Responses

  1. Avatar Robert Greer says:

    That’s not even the worst part. If Obama loses, it’ll be to a candidate whose church has racialist ideology in its very scriptures. Mitt Romney apparently has no ideological allegiances except to the church to which he has sworn a blood oath. How do we think American minorities will react once this becomes common knowledge? What kind of response will we expect from the international community if we elect as our chief diplomat someone who believes in American exceptionalism as a matter of nonnegotiable religious dogma, and has pledged fealty to this idea with secret rites?Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      “Mitt Romney apparently has no ideological allegiances” is a sufficient and complete sentence.Report

      • Avatar Robert Greer says:

        I don’t think this is quite accurate. Even when Romney was an elite corporate manager, he was still putting in dozens of hours each week into his church. You don’t get to the position of Stake President without being a very committed Mormon — only about one in a thousand Mormons reaches this level.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe says:

          Are you sure the casuality is not reversed? – Mitt Romney is a rich and sucessful person, so the Church hierarchy wanted him in. (he didn’t strike me as particularly sucessful during his mission phase, though I don’t think very many are).

          In any case, Mormon Church ideology is a flexible thing, otherwise we’d be talking about potential First Ladies plural.Report

          • Avatar Robert Greer says:

            The connection in Mormonism between wealth and righteousness is more tenuous than many recent writers have argued. And the Church’s ideology is less flexible than you think: Although Mormons are barred from marrying polygamously in this life, Mormons still “seal” multiple wives to one husband for marriage in the hereafter. Similarly, the racial ideology that undergirded Mormonism’s segregation policies is written right into the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price themselves.

            Romney was by all reports about as successful as anyone in his mission, which is to say, hardly at all. But the point of the mission isn’t so much to convert people in far-off lands as it is to strengthen the faith of those who go on missions. It seems to have had that effect on Mitt Romney.Report

    • Avatar George Turner says:

      That’s not even the worst part. If Obama loses, it’ll be to a candidate whose church has racialist ideology in its very scriptures.

      Reverend Jeremiah Wright approves this message.Report

  2. Avatar Roger says:

    Are the whites racist when they vote against a minority? Are the minorities racist when they vote for a minority? Which side is more or less racist? And how are the Asians voting?

    Has anyone done a survey where they ask the racist questions… Are you voting for or against Obama because he is black? And what race are you?

    Any thoughts how this would come out?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      I don’t care about the economy, foreign policy, civil liberties, drone attacks, or bailouts.

      I just care about whether the guy running for office is a mason.Report

    • Avatar Matty says:

      I’d say it is racist to vote against someone because you think their race disqualifies them from winning. Voting for someone and thinking their race is one of the positives less so. Or are there people going around saying “I would vote Republican but I couldn’t being myself to vote for a white guy”?Report

      • Avatar Remo says:

        Actually, no.

        Thats racist on the same way. Just of a ‘less offensive’ type.

        Just like when a woman expects you to pay a restaurant bill, or to hold a door open to her. That is sexism.

        Racism is to let race interfere on your judgement – at all. You can’t pretend it isn’t just because you are giving a advantage to the minority.

        Even calling someone african-american is racism. Because you are implying that they are somehow different from white-american. If it was not racist, they would all be americans.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          “Racism is to let race interfere on your judgement – at all. You can’t pretend it isn’t just because you are giving a advantage to the minority.”

          No. That is not racism. That is racial prejudice. It’s different.

          And, yes, I’m being serious.Report

          • Avatar Glyph says:

            Kazzy, isn’t this a distinction without a difference in this case? Shouldn’t the important thing be, “hire the right guy for the job, *regardless of his race*?”

            From that WaPo article/poll:

            In that contest, 80 percent of all nonwhites supported Obama, including 95 percent of black voters, according to the exit poll. In the Post-ABC tracking poll released Thursday, Obama again draws support from 80 percent of nonwhites, and backing for his reelection is nearly universal among African Americans. In other words, Romney appears to have made no inroads in chipping away at Obama’s support among Hispanics and African Americans.

            It is being posited that the fact Obama is losing ground among (some) whites is indicative of an ugly racial dynamic; the implication being that there are some whites who are letting racial components affect their decision as to who is the best man for the job.

            Yet the ‘nearly-universal’ support for Obama amongst African-Americans is indicative that there is no racial component whatsoever in their collective decison-making process?Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              Well, there has long been “near universal” support for Dems among African-Americans. I believe they typically pull 90%+. 95%+ isn’t really a far cry from that.

              Furthermore, racism and racial prejudice is not a distinction without a difference. The argument behind that theory is that racism is the combination of prejudice with power and privilege. If whites decided to vote, en masse, for only white candidates, you know what happens? We only get white elected officials. Black folks and people of color can’t do that. And while this particular instance is a function numerical power, there are a great many other ways that the racial prejudices of racial minorities and whites differ in their aggregate impact.

              To the article itself, I’m uncomfortable with the knee jerk assumption that any white opposition to Obama is itself racism. So the fact that Obama is (or appears to be) losing disproportionately among whites doesn’t necessarily scream “racism” to me, though it does make me wonder.

              Boiling down further, the question seems to be is this: “Is black people voting for a black guy because he’s a black guy the same as white people refusing to vote for a black guy because he’s a black guy?” My answer: no.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                there has long been “near universal” support for Dems among African-Americans – good point.

                If whites decided to vote, en masse, for only white candidates, you know what happens? We only get white elected officials. – so, since we know this did *not* happen last election, is the question moot? Or are we positing that the last one was an aberration?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Is which question moot? My point with the theoretical of whites voting en masse was to demonstrate the way that prejudice intersects with power. If you are not in a position to realize your prejudice, you are not in a position to be racist.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Well, I guess my read of the OP is, paraphrased, “Obama’s disproportionate loss of ground amongst some whites, is indicative of an ugly racial dynamic.”

                But last election, whites voted in numbers (not all whites, but enough) sufficient to elect Obama.

                Why would some of them dropping away now be auto-imputed to racism, rather than to some other factor? What percentage of them would need to re-elect Obama, in how many elections, before they could be safely considered no longer potentially-racist?

                IOW, the ‘preference distribution’ between Romney/Obama (or Rep & Dem, if you prefer) amongst whites appears to be far more ‘balanced’ or less-striking statistically, than it does amongst non-whites – and it is the preference distribution of whites that we are questioning?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Here is your problem… “ugly racial dynamic” does not necessarily equal “racism”.

                Furthermore, the mere fact that fewer whites are supporting Obama this time than last time is not necessarily racism. But if it is because they are less forgiving of a black politician than a white politician and, therefore, more quickly abandoned him… well, suddenly we have to think of it differently, no?Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Yeah, I can see that. I just have a hard time getting alarmed over a 60/40 preference split amongst one racial group, which seems within normal tolerances given the fact that I don’t see the parties/candidates as all that far apart, when another racial group splits 95/5 (which seems far more striking to me). I am aware this could be a function of where I “sit”.

                Put another way, if there were 2 bosses, one white, one black; and the white boss hired whites (or Republicans) 60% of the time, and blacks (or Democrats) 40% of the time, while the black boss hired blacks (or Democrats) 95% of the time – well, I know which boss *I* think the EEOC should probably look into.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I agree that a 60/40 split itself is not cause for alarm. Curiosity? Maybe. If it is 60/40 one year and then 60/40 the other? It’d pique interest.

                Again, the number themselves are less an issue and more the reason behind them.

                Suppose both those managers had offices in predominantly black areas. Suddenly the white manager’s hiring practices are more suspect, no? Context matters. Greatly.

                FTR, I wasn’t necessarily saying that whites DO give less room-for-error to black officials; only that IF that were the case, it is something that could make a 60/40 split concerning.

                I would say that, more broadly, a nation increasingly divided with white males on one side and women and racial minorities on the other is a concern.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                “Obama’s a crappy president. He was only elected because he was black, and guess what: just like you’d expect, he’s not up to the job. Just like all the other non-whites the other side runs that only get votes because people feel guilty not to. And now you’re not going to vote for my side, just because we’re white? Racists!”Report

              • Avatar Roger says:


                Voting for someone because of the color of his skin is racism. How can my children and grandchildren ever learn to reject racism when they are surrounded by people telling them that it is OK when you are a racist for your side? It is racist when I vote for a white candidate because i am white. It is racist when my daughter votes for Hispanic Candidates because she is Hispanic. It is racist when my grandson votes for black candidates because he is black.

                Theft is wrong. Lying is wrong. Murder is wrong. They aren’t wrong when the other side does is and right when our side does it. Racism is wrong. Rules need to be universal. Adding power and privilege into it is just a rationalization of evil.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Show me where I said it is okay to be “racist for your side”?Report

              • Avatar Roger says:


                I am not trying to be argumentative with you. I respect you too much for that.

                Let’s just start over. Do you agree that I should teach those that I love that racism is bad even among minorities for minorities? I want them to judge people by their character, not their skin, and I would never accept the excuse that the other side started it. Would you?

                And yes, my daughter did face a lot of discrimination and racist taunting as a kid from other kids (and some teachers) in white, southern communities. I just believe responsibility starts from within. I demanded that she rise above it, not lower herself in to it.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                “Do you agree that I should teach those that I love that racism is bad even among minorities for minorities?”

                I think this begs the question of what racism is.

                I think it is wrong to hold someone’s race against them. I think it is okay to consider the way in which someone’s race informs their experiences and their being if the goal is to better understand that person.

                Racial prejudice, no matter who the perpetrator or who the victim, is wrong.
                Racism, which I think contains elements of power that makes it a unique social construct perpetrated by and on behalf of white folks, is wrong.

                I think a white guy saying, “I’ll never vote for a black guy,” is wrong.
                I think a black guy saying, “Obama? He probably understands me better. I’m voting for him,” is okay. Or, at least as okay as many of the other reasons people pick their preferred candidates.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                W/o a monolithic black vote, Obama gets wiped out like Carter. Still might.

                Obama will be gone soon, either in a few months or a few years. perhaps we’ll see a realignment of the black vote, at least to 75-25. It used to be a truism among black leadership it was smarter to have friends on both sides of the aisle.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                A colleague I met during diversity training said this:

                “Blacks are conservative. We’re anti drug because we see what it does to our communities. We’re religious. We’re generally anti-gay*. We’re firm authoritarians. If the GOP ever realized this and stopped insulting us…”

                * This was about 4 years ago, before Obama’s new stance and the shift on this issue within the black community.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Are there any subgroups of the population that are roughly the same size as the African-American community that vote as strongly for Republicans?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                The same size? You have to quibble and move from race to creed (“Protestants”)… though I understand that Hispanics are beginning to rival the size of the African-American bloc.

                As strongly? I’m trying to think of any group or sub-group that even comes *CLOSE* to 95/5.Report

              • Avatar LWA (Lib With Attitude) says:

                “If the GOP ever realized this and stopped insulting us…”

                Ahh, but there’s the rub.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                I’m not sure Republicans vote for Republicans as consistently as blacks vote for Democrats.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                As strongly? I’m trying to think of any group or sub-group that even comes *CLOSE* to 95/5.

                A few cycles ago, some estimates were that Mormons went 95/5, though other lower estimates were 80-85%. As I pointed out below, 95% is actually an unusually high number. Gore got about 90% and Kerry a little less than that.

                The Hispanic demographic is larger than the African-American one, I believe, but their vote isn’t nearly so lopsided (though with Obama it is moreso than with Bush).Report

              • Avatar Roger says:

                Not sure about GOP voters, but according to the Voter ID thread, I am pretty sure the chronically disenfranchised and underprivileged ( aka people who cant manage to maintain a valid ID) are considered by both parties as loyal Democrats.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                My query was legitimately that… I wasn’t trying to tu quoque or whatever, but rather to see if there are other, similar trends that might be less visible. It appears that there aren’t, which is what I suspected but didn’t know for sure.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                The argument behind that theory is that racism is the combination of prejudice with power and privilege.

                I reject this. Racism and racial prejudice are essentially synonymous.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                Note that dictionaries do not include anything about power or privilege in their definitions of racism. This is just something the left-wing racial activists cooked up, presumably because they didn’t like it when the minorities among their ranks were called out on their own racism.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                BB, it seems to me there are two separate issues here.

                Racism, by definition, is not connected to power and privilege. However, making determinations about how we deal with different kinds of racism definitely is.

                For a more black and white example (ha!) look back to the early civil rights movement in the 40s and early 50s. It would be naive to think that most blacks in America did not harbor negative prejudicial feelings toward white people. That is, by definition, racism. However, due to the power structure in that system there was no need to use courts to “combat” that racism.

                Both whites and blacks had racist thoughts; however, due to disproportionate power and privilege only one side needed to push for protection from the other.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                My snarky comment elsewhere aside, I think there is something to this. Or, more broadly speaking, a degree of racial solidarity becomes more understandable when one is in a less powerful position or one is a minority themselves.

                A white resident of Baltimore who more-or-less admits to having voted for O’Malley on the basis of his race strikes me as okay – to some extent – in a way that a comfortable retiree in Florida doing the same.Report

              • Avatar Roger says:


                I’ve been thinking about this comment and pretty much agree.

                I will just add that it is one thing to battle systemic racism and correct for race based power differentials. This of course does not call for reverse racism though, indeed, doing so concedes the high ground.Report

              • Kazzy,

                I agree with your distinction between “racism” and “race prejudice,” but it bothers me when some anti-racists appeal to the distinction as “of course, the two are different,” when I think the issue is that people (or at least white Americans) aren’t used to thinking of racism as power/privilege. In other words, I think it’s a distinction that (perhaps unfortunately) needs to be explained, which is what you’re doing, rather than assumed and then used as a way to chastise those who haven’t necessarily been exposed to those distinctions.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                That is a very fair criticism. Thanks.Report

              • To be clear, I don’t mean it so much as a criticism than as an observation. And I think you do a good job at explaining the distinction.

                And of course, I agree with distinction, too.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

              I’m not going to vote for anyone who proclaims that the US is a Christian nation. That’s not because I’m prejudiced against Christians.Report

            • Avatar Mo says:

              Because if there’s one things Asians and Latinos are known for, it’s racial solidarity with African Americans. You think there may be other reasons why Asians and Latinos are voting against Republicans at record levels?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I know that Asians tended Republican until recently. Something about how many of them were Communist refugees or some other slander.

                Recent numbers are all over the place. From the wikipedia: In 2004, Chinese and Indian Americans were more likely to support John Kerry; whereas Vietnamese and Filipino Americans supported George Bush. The Japanese leaned towards Kerry, while the Koreans leaned towards Bush.

                Sadly, there aren’t 2008 numbers on the page.Report

              • Avatar Robert Greer says:

                I wonder how big of a factor religion is here. Seems to me that the Bush-leaning groups are much more likely to be Catholic or Christian conservatives.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                Right. A big part of the Democrat’s appeal, for those to whom the promises of freebies aren’t a big draw, is that they’re the less-Christian party. Based on economic factors, you’d think the Chinese, Japanese, and Jews would lean Republican, but they don’t, because that’s the more-Christian party.Report

              • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name says:

                “Sadly, there aren’t 2008 numbers on the page.”

                Did you count them all? How many numbers were there — maybe we can edit an edit to make up the difference: “In 1952, 47% of all 18 to 20 year olds had 50% of the top 10% of 7-ups”Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          If I’m wearing high heels, or am otherwise carrying a heavy box, you better open the door for me, lest klutz go through the glass.
          I’ll return the favor. No sexism needed.Report

          • Avatar b-psycho says:

            …I was going to make a remark about why a self-admitted klutz would wear high heels. But then I realized
            1) high heels aren’t exactly function-built footwear anyway
            2) I like watching women walk in them

            So go ahead. I’ll get the door.Report

        • Avatar LauraNo says:

          Sure sounds like the rightwing definition of ‘racism’ which is a far cry from believing certain races are superior to others. Noticing a person is tall automatically makes you an anti-tall person bigot…Report

      • Avatar Teresa Rice says:

        What about Jay-Z saying that he wants smaller government but that he’s voting for Obama because he’s black?

        There are some people who will vote for Obama simply because he’s black. My sister talked to some black voters where she worked and they couldn’t have cared less whether Obama was a drug dealer or was in a gang or a teacher or whatever, they just didn’t care, as long as he was black they were voting for him. I am not saying that all or even a majority of blacks think this way but I do think more blacks think this way then is admitted in the media and elsewhere.

        I think it is just as wrong for a white person to refuse to vote for a political candidate just because he happens to be black. We need to get past race and look at the person’s character and beliefs. I do think the overwhelming majority of people in our country don’t vote based on race.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Yes. But something like 95% of blacks voted for Gore. So what you’re looking at is not people changing their vote, but deciding to make a vote for someone whose policies they mostly support (bearing in MIND that Obama consistently takes a more conservative tact when he’s talking with blacks. See his father’s day speech).Report

          • Avatar Will Truman says:

            It was around 90% that voted for Gore. A little less for Kerry. The 95% figure does seem particular to Obama. It suggests that perhaps race was a factor for Obama and the black vote. Maybe the minority vote more generally. The huge margins of Hispanic and Asian going D was not as much the case in 2000 and 2004. It could be attributable to a number of factors, but one of them may be an increased willingness to support someone who is different like they are different.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              thankie for the stats.
              Perhaps race was… If we grant that the “general American” swing between Gore and Obama, in general, was … maybe 2%… then we’re seeing maybe a 3% change… which might be due to racism, or it might be due to the large amounts of unemployment in their community.Report

            • Avatar KatherineMW says:

              Or maybe it’s because the Republican party’s serious issues with race became a lot more evident during the campaigns in which Obama was participating (esp. 2008), and during his time in office, making minorities less inclined to vote for them.Report

          • Avatar Teresa Rice says:

            But the number of black people who voted for Obama increased in 08′.

            But the same can be said for the white male or female who votes Republican. Obama could have been red, white,and blue with green polka dots and I still wouldn’t have voted for him because I disagree with about 98% of his positions. Many whites who voted for Bush were not going to vote for Obama based on his policies not his skin color.

            Unfortunately the race hustlers have overplayed the racism card – whole deck – and the charge of racism has become an utter joke.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              “Unfortunately the race hustlers have overplayed the racism card – whole deck – and the charge of racism has become an utter joke.”

              This is a very real problem. Empty charges of racism make it harder to substantiate real instances. Of course, treating every charge of racism as if it were empty also stymies that.

              “Many whites who voted for Bush were not going to vote for Obama based on his policies not his skin color.”

              No doubt. If anyone argues otherwise, they should not be taken seriously. Of course, that refers to “many” not “all”.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Elsewhere, I said that this is a problem with no easy solutions. One side has an incentive to speak as racially-charged as they are allowed to. The other side has an incentive to clip and muddy whatever speech they can by declaring it as code.

                If I were to try to come up with a way of talking about it, it would be to go after the clearer code most vociferously and focus primarily on that. Talk about reparations through liberal economic policies? Talk about Americanness? We need to hit at those things as hard as we can. Other things, like accusations of socialism or weakening welfare reform… even if they are entirely baseless, it’s the baselessness that needs to be confronted head on. At least in my view.

                Oh, and when Democrats run an ad with a black Republican congressperson with a gleaming gold tooth punching an old white lady… it’s actually damaging for the NAACP to defend it. At least in my view.Report

        • Avatar Chris says:

          Let me ask you a question: do you think there might be a rational reason for black people to vote for someone because he/she is black? For example, imagine we live in a country in which black people are systematically disadvantaged. Might it be rational to believe that a black person in power, even as a symbol, can compensate for some of that disadvantage, and that it is therefore to their advantage, as black people, to vote for a black candidate because he’s black?Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            I think many white folks see themselves as disadvantage, particularly at the hands of blacks, women, and other “special interest groups”. Thus, they tend to think that their positions are rationale in the same way you and I might argue that black folks’ position is.Report

            • Avatar Chris says:

              Yeah, but there’s a difference between being deluded about your position in society and actually recognizing your position in society.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                It’s frustrating when West Virginians remain so deluded as to not recognize how privileged they are.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                They’re a considerably lot less priviledged now that Byrd is dead…Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Did you read what Kazzy wrote?

                And have you ever been to West Virginia?Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                My experience is that those who are most inclined to think expressly along the lines that having a white president is better than a non-white president is – with the exception of the old – as likely as not to come precisely to those who are the least privileged among whites, broadly speaking. The increasing class stratification of the Confederate Flag comes to example.

                Looking at these people and thinking that the primary issue is privilege strikes me as wrong-headed. More privileged whites (economically comfortable, in an economically prosperous place, etc.) feel themselves more likely to be able to afford to be broadminded on issues of race and less inclined to feel the need to expressly identify as white to begin with.

                I use West Virginia as a stand-in for White America that Correct-Thinking America appropriately looks down upon. Not coincidentally, it’s not a remarkably prosperous place.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I am from rural Tennessee. I went to school in Kentucky and Texas. When I was at Kentucky, I used to go into West Virginia on Thursday nights to go to the 18 and up bars (the drinking age was 21, but getting in was half the battle, right?). Many of the people I went to school with were from Appalachia, as at the time Kentucky had an aggressive Appalachian scholarship program. I don’t look down on these people. In a lot of ways, I am these people.

                That said, when white people think that black people and women are oppressing them, they’re deluded. That’s all I said. And I’d argue that the reason racism is common among poor white people is not unrelated to privilege and power, because privilege and power are pretty well served by poor white people blaming someone other than rich white people for their troubles.Report

              • And I’d argue that the reason racism is common among poor white people is not unrelated to privilege and power, because privilege and power are pretty well served by poor white people blaming someone other than rich white people for their troubles.

                I suspect there’s a fair amount of truth to this explanation, but I also don’t think it’s the sole reason.

                On the one side, you’ve got politicians and opinion leaders screaming about how the reason these folks are suffering is affirmative action (and, if we’re being honest, it is indeed a policy whose negative tradeoffs are felt entirely by poor whites, even if the positive tradeoffs outweigh the negatives to society in aggregate). On the other side….you’ve basically got mockery and derision from politicians and opinion leaders. Shockingly, they’re increasingly listening to the side that at least is pretending to give a crap about them.

                For what it’s worth, it’s also notable that many/most of the poor whites that demonstrably withheld support from Obama because of race come from areas of the country that: (1) were, relatively speaking, anti-slavery and pro-Union hotbeds, and (2) are places where residents have local roots going back to well before the Civil War.Report

        • Avatar Roger says:

          I would like to add on to Teresa’s comment.

          There are racists among us. We can find racist blacks, racist whites. I think it behooves us to stand up against such racist actions. It is wrong to wear the tee shirt on this OP, it is wrong to hang a chair. It is also wrong though to lower our level of rationality to dog whistles. It is too easy to dismiss opposing views as racist by reading hidden dog whistles in everything. Even though dog whistles and racists do exist.

          That said, Chris brings up a great point. Is it racism to vote for Obama for his symbolic effect? Let’s say I don’t vote for him because he is black, but because I think the symbol of a black man in the white house would be healthy for the country. Is that wrong? Oddly, I can see that as not racist.

          It is the difference between hiring someone because he was a X as opposed to taking the diversity of the staff into consideration. Sometimes I think the team could use more variety, all else pretty much equal.Report

          • Avatar Chris says:

            Roger, I asked it that way because it’s pretty much what I’ve heard from people: Obama as president is good for black people, not necessarily because Obama is more likely to push for policies that will be beneficial to more black people (though he probably is), but because having a black person in the highest elected position in the land, the position often referred to as “the most powerful person in the world,” is a good thing for the black population in and of itself. I don’t see anything racist about that. I don’t think it’d be sexist to want a female president for similar reasons. Now, if we were to say, “Having a white president will allow us to maintain white dominance in this country,” I’d probably think that was racist.Report

            • Avatar Glyph says:

              I am personally ambivalent about Obama’s achievements; some I like, some I don’t.

              But I love that there has now been a black President for a role model, someone not a sports or entertainment figure, that black kids can aspire to being like someday, to give them – I say this without any sarcasm or irony – Hope.

              I think that one intangible alone probably justifies a lot.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Glyph, I’ve heard the argument recently that re-electing a black president may be even more important than electing one the first time. Not getting re-elected will be interpreted as Obama being a failure as president, and many people will attach that failure to his race.

                I don’t know that I agree that it’s more important, but I can definitely see how it’s important.

                That said, I’m still not voting for him. But I’m in Texas, so nobody cares.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Well, it’s not apples to apples, but I got the sense that at least some of W’s re-election votes were not necessarily out of love for the man himself, but out of a desire to ‘send a message to the terrorists’ – that message being, we won’t take the action we think you want us to take, or throw the current President over, or appear unsure of ourselves, while you are watching to see what we do.

                Better to be wrong, than weak or disloyal or easily-influenced-by-terror, sort of (Eff you, I won’t do what you tell me).

                What you are describing almost sounds like that, but in a different direction. Voting as a way of sending messages that have nothing really to do with the job of President itself.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Voting as a way of sending messages that have nothing really to do with the job of President itself.

                I’m OK with that. It doesn’t seem much different than voting or not voting for someone based on any other single issue.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Agreed, and in some people’s eyes I will probably “throw my vote away” in part to make a statement about certain things that are at least partly outside the President’s bailiwick or control.

                But then this gets problematic when we want to consider racism, no? After all, what’s the difference in the end between someone who doesn’t vote Obama because he doesn’t like black people, and someone who didn’t vote for Kerry because he’s funny-looking (and don’t pretend there’s no prejudice against funny-looking people, always has been, always will be)?

                Both decisions were made without respect to what kind of job the man might do; and in the end isn’t *that* what the vote is really supposed to be for?Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                I don’t think you could say that Kerry’s face is all that asymettric.
                Or that he looks like an owl:

            • Avatar Roger says:

              Yeah, I think this is a great point, Chris. I am not saying I agree with the voting logic completely, but it does seem to be a rational reason to vote for someone.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            +10. Thanks for listening to what we’re really trying to say. Diversity can be a really valuable thing (and yes, I can quantify that in dollars 😉 ).

            Some people use dogwhistles. Other people accidentally say things that sound like dogwhistles.

            But it’s REAL easy to tell the two apart. You explain why what they just said was hurtful. The innocent apologize — and the others are stupid AND racist.Report

          • Avatar Teresa Rice says:

            Roger, I am in full agreement with you.Report

        • Avatar b-psycho says:

          …Jay-Z is an idiot.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      Whites are not necessarily racist when voting against minorities but there are a lot of factors (psychological, historical, sociological) that need to be taken into account. We can not deny racism outright. I certainly think it is at least a semi-unconscious factor. Some thoughts and questions in no particular order.

      1. The civil rights movement is still fairly recent history. We still have plenty of people alive who can remember Jim Crow and Segregation. We still have people alive and voting who went tooth and nail against the Civil Rights movement and other progressive movements from the 1950s-70s. I’m not saying that a vast majority want to return to Jim Crow but some must and others must certainly still have lingering thoughts from the era when causual racism was okay.

      2. Is it acceptable for John Sununu to say on national TV that Powell only endorsed Obama because they are both black? This is done to make the endorsement less legitimate because Collin Powell is still respected (whether he should be or not is another question). What if Hunstman came out for Romney and a Democratic politician said it was only because they are both Mormon. Wouldn’t the GOP be up in arms? We can either call out all tribalism or no tribalism. We can’t cherry pick between some tribalism being okay and some tribalism being not okay.

      3. As to your survey: Most people would not answer those questions honestly. People don’t want to sound bad.

      4. Nixon’s Southern Strategy was real and that is when Whites especially blue-collar whites began fleeing the Democratic Party. Maybe racism is not the exclusive reason for many whites (except Jews who might or might not count as white) from leaving the Democratic Party in droves but I think simple logic can show an Occam’s razor.

      5. Why is the Silent Generation (those too young to fight in WWII and too old to be Boomers) much more conservative than the Greatest Generation and those that followed?

      The United States will probably be a 50/50 nation or close to it for the foreseeable future. Though these things change quickly but I feel very odd about being part of a seeming minority of whites (or at least passing) who vote liberal and Democratic. What part of my background sets me as different? Is it my Judaism? Education level? Urbanish background? Etc.Report

      • Avatar Roger says:

        I agree tribalism is a problem in many forms. This includes those acts initiated by the minority tribe and those by the majority tribe.

        I will suggest that if tribalistic behavior is wrong, then it is also wrong to accuse people of tribalism without proof. I’d say it is worse to be a racist than a cheat. However, we expect a burden of proof to accuse someone of being a cheat. We should demand the same burden with racism. And no, Occams razor is not sufficient proof. Indeed it strikes me as prone to rationalizing.

        As to the survey. Of course some people would lie on an anonymous survey. Those that are most racist probably wouldn’t though. After all, some may even be proud to be a racist, or confused on what is or is not racist. I see no reaon though why blacks, Asians, Hispanics or whites would be more or less likely to admit it. Alternatively, social scientists could study racist behavior and voting propensity and tease out the correlations if they wanted to. I’m surprise Tom hasn’t already supplied a link.Report

        • Avatar NewDealer says:

          I think one of the many problems is that a lot of people (especially white people) think of racism and bigotry as being things that exist facially only. Everyone recognizes someone like Jim Phelps as being openly bigoted or a KKK member.

          The problems arise from institutionalized racism and disparate impact which I think do exist. Look how the drug war is waged more brutally against minorities. Why was crack punished harder for so many years than cocaine?

          I think we need to think of racism as being something beyond active bigotry and even though the word drives me up a wall with how often it is used and overused, privilege does exist.

          The code words used are often kind of obvious.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

            Everyone recognizes someone like Jim Phelps as being openly bigoted

            Is that why Barney Collier never got any of the “undercover surrounded by sexy babes” assignments?Report

        • Avatar DRS says:

          2. Is it acceptable for John Sununu to say on national TV that Powell only endorsed Obama because they are both black?

          How’s this for proof of racism – or more accurately pandering to racism? In order for Sununu to make this claim he had to ignore the fact that Powell gave a detailed explanation of the ways he disagreed with Romney on foreign policy and military matters. But no, it was because they were both black. Sure, John.Report

        • Avatar Trumwill says:

          One of the issue of accusations and accusations of false accusations is that, at the end of the day, it’s pretty rare whether we actually know something in any specific instance is tribalist or not. It seems pretty obvious to me that when Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck (at least I think it was those two) talk about Obama’s policies being a form of “reparations” that is pretty racially charged and tribalistic. But I can’t prove it. Nor could I prove that the empty chair wasn’t a dog-whistle, even though I don’t believe it was.Report

          • Avatar NewDealer says:

            I don’t think the empty chair was a dog whistle but less savory sorts turned it into one by hanging empty chairs if effigy. Okay that is not even a dog whistle as much as blatant bigotry and racism.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              There’s not much question about the hanging chairs, in my view. I’m referring to the conversation we had at the League prior to that, where the empty chair was considered a reference to The Invisible Man and the context of a white man lecturing a black man without identity or agency (at least I think I’m getting this right) is out of a race playbook (or at least needs apologizing for on the grounds of race, racism, or racialism).Report

            • Avatar Glyph says:

              I didn’t hear about the hanging chairs, that is pretty messed up.Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

          FTR, Obama ’12 button @ Dem convention: ONCE YOU VOTE BLACK YOU NEVER GO BACK

          I find the “White” T-shirt in the OP far more offensive, but only in degree, not kind.Report

    • Avatar b-psycho says:

      If a white person opposes a minority candidate because they’re part of an ethnic minority, then that’s racist. If a minority opposes a white candidate because they’re white, that’s also racist.

      The latter doesn’t get talked about much because, well, numbers. If blacks intentionally withheld their votes from candidates that weren’t black, then there wouldn’t be much voting going on by blacks at all. Whereas outside of overwhelmingly minority-populated areas white people could easily get by never voting for a minority for anything. Doesn’t make it right when it does occur (I’ve actually written recently about blacks tossing Obama’s record out the window out of racial solidarity), only that it can’t occur much because…numbers.Report

    • Avatar DRS says:

      Were blacks racist when they voted for Bill Clinton in such large numbers? Or did they just become racist when Obama won the nomination?Report

  3. Avatar Morat20 says:

    I don’t have the crosstabs in front of me, but IIRC it’s not that Obama has “lost whites”. He does decently with whites.

    Except in one geographic area, where they really, really, really hate him.

    I mean Ohio is 83% white. Yet Obama is, at worst, tied there.

    Claiming Obama has “lost whites” does a GREAT disservice to, well, whites. And Obama. And kinda sugar coats the fact that the whites that hate him generally come from places that still enjoy their confederate flags.Report

    • Avatar MBunge says:

      In the wake of the Civil Rights movement, our elites forged a basic non-aggression pact. As long as Southern White Elites essentially stopped actively trying to turn back the tide, all their history of racism and segregation would be forgiven among the elites and the Southerners would even be allowed to continue race-baiting back home, as long as it was at least slightly indirect.

      I’m not sure how terrible that would have been if our two major political parties had remained geographically and ideologically diverse. Terrible, I mean, as compared to blackballing a couple of generations of Southern White Elites and then engaging in a protracted period of Political Reconstruction. But when the GOP saw a path to power by appealing to Southern Whites, there was no way it was ever going to end well.


    • I trust The Other Nate on this stuff; he says the South isn’t the reason why O’s numbers with whites are so bad ( & that they are indeed historically bad (

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

        Elias, Is it that the high number of black in the South is offestting the whites abandoning Obama or that white Southerners are no less inclined to vote for Obama than white northerners?Report

      • Avatar Mo says:

        This ( is a bit stale (goes back to August), but directionally it shows the South story and it isn’t from Gallup.

        In mid-August, Romney held a commanding 40-point lead over Obama among white working-class voters in the South (62% vs. 22%). However, neither candidate held a statistically significant lead among white working-class voters in the West (46% Romney vs. 41% Obama), Northeast (42% Romney vs. 38% Obama), or the Midwest (36% Romney vs. 44% Obama).


    • Avatar Trumwill says:

      Thanks to the Electoral College, it ultimately doesn’t matter all that much how much the Republicans clean up on the white vote in the south. Romney can win the entire region, by the largest margin imaginable, but will still lose the election without the white vote elsewhere. With the exception of North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida, the South has been written off. And those three states won’t get Romney across the finish line (Kerry almost won without them, Obama would have won without them in 2008).

      If Romney wins, it’ll be because of the national map.Report

    • Avatar Snarky McSnarkSnark says:

      I understand that Obama is broadly rejected by white Southerners, but it would be interesting to see the breakdowns: how’s he doing in non-Southern white America?

      The frantic “othering” of Obama by conservatives over the last four years leads me to believe that there is, at least in part, a racial component of their discomfort of him. I’m not saying that this is necessarily a racially-driven hatred of the man. But for people of my generation, there are certain cultural archetypes: Gregory Peck is presidential.

      I think these archetypes are stronger, and deeper, than we suspect. I know people–all of them older–that wouldn’t dream of treating someone of a different race differently, but nonetheless have an inchoate discomfort with the very idea of Obama as president that they cannot quite articulate…Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Obama screams “city boy” to a lot of rural folks. Also, “young whippersnapper” and a bunch of other things.
        Not all “I don’t like him” is because of race.Report

        • Avatar joey jo jo says:

          I don’t rule out that some people dislike him because of race but conjure up secondary or tertiary rationales and present them as primary ones.Report

  4. Avatar George Turner says:

    What about all the whites who bitterly oppose Obama because they want to help the poor, minorities, and women, all of whom have suffered far more than whites under Obama’s term?

    If whites were as racist as implied, wanting to maintain their privileged status at the expense of blacks and women, they’d be backing Obama 100%because under no conceivable scenario would Romney hurt minorities as much as Obama has. This brings up the obvious question, are white Obama supporters racist, laughing maniacally everytime they see black unemployment numbers or the number of women leaving the workforce? Why yes, of course they are.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      Because when I think “What party really wants to help the poor, minorities, and women” I think “GOP”.

      Because the last two decades have just been an endless parade of legislation at all levels designed to combat poverty, increase access to health care, improve social mobility, raise standards of living, increase wages…

      Now that the funny is aside, really the only way you can possibly convince yourself that the GOP gives a flying fart about any of that is if you believe, in your soul of souls, that trickle down economics and reduced regulation will bring about an American utopia.

      And even most Republicans will happily admit that even if it WOULD, that’s not really why they want to slash upper bracket taxes and can those pesky regulations about air quality and whatnot. It’s either a perk or a con, depending.Report

      • Avatar Roger says:


        I am not sure they give a flying fart either. I will say that as an independent I give a well grounded toot to the plight of the poor. And I am convinced that economic growth is their best ticket, and that over regulation and top down interference are major stumbling blocks that we have thrown in their way.Report

        • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

          Roger, be honest with yourself. You’re as much an independent as I am a trapeze artist.Report

          • Avatar Roger says:

            I have nothing but disdain for the two political parties. I assure you I have no intention of voting for Romney, and hope to talk my wife out of doing so as well. And yes she is an independent too.

            Do you use a net when you perform?Report

          • Avatar James Hanley says:


            Are you saying that you’re sure Roger always votes Libertarian, since he is so libertarianish (note big L and little l)?

            Or are you saying that you’re sure Roger actually always votes Republican?

            I can see either as possible interpretations.Report

            • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

              I’m saying that there’s a zero chance Roger, based on his statements on this board, would vote for the median Democrat. An actual independent would be 50/50 for both major parties. If you only vote for third parties, you’re not an independent, you’re in some other category.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                An actual independent would be 50/50 for both major parties

                Oh, come now. That’s randomness, not independence. You could spend the next three days working on an essay about that and you wouldn’t be able to justify that claim.

                If you only vote for third parties, you’re not an independent, you’re in some other category.

                That’s why I asked if you were suggesting he only voted Libertarian. But note that he doesn’t; even more, hasn’t.Report

              • Avatar trizzlor says:

                That’s randomness, not independence.

                I think Jessie has a point in the context of parties. Independent just means that you’re abstaining from voting in party primaries. We imbue it with a feeling of independent thinking and self-reliance, but really it’s just a choice not to be represented. In that sense, it’s only logical when your vote is so evenly split between the parties (either 50/50 or 0/0) that you would be as well represented in either primary. On the other hand, if you never vote for one of the parties, then it makes no sense to register Independent and avoid having an input on the other.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                I would definitely like to get the terminology of this nailed down, because I got into a similar argument on these boards before.

                To some people “Independent” means “may vote for either Romney or Obama”. In other words, the axis is R–> I–> D, in which (I) can go one of two directions, left or right (and if it consistently picks one over the other, then it’s not really “I” at all).

                To me, “Independent” means “may vote for Romney, Obama, Johnson, Stein, etc., or may just stay home and drink in the dark.”

                More axes/directions. This to me makes more sense to call “Independent”. The 1st definition seems no more “Independent” than does the rope used in a game of tug of war.Report

              • Avatar Roger says:

                I just use it to mean not willing or interested in joining any currently defined party. Not sure if that is the only definition though, Glyph. Jesse is totally right though that I am rarely ever tempted to vote Democrat, at leat since Ann Richards was governor in Texas.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Ann Richards was awesome.Report

              • Avatar dhex says:

                “An actual independent would be 50/50 for both major parties”

                that makes no sense at all. presumably an independent lacks overt party affiliation or preference, not a complete lack of political beliefs.Report

              • Avatar trizzlor says:

                My state changed the voter label option from “independent” to “unenrolled”, which must’ve been thought by some brilliant marketing strategist. “Independent” sounds like you’re your own man and nobody tells you what to do; “unenrolled” sounds like you missed the deadline on something. I’m guessing that this simple word substitution will most of the 2/3rds independents that always vote for one party decide to shit or get off the pot.Report

              • Avatar Trumwill says:

                That is pretty brilliant.Report

            • Avatar Roger says:

              I have never voted big L either. Not yet at least.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Oooh! Oooh! can I be an independent too!?
          I voted Republican! Once!Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        Because the last two decades have just been an endless parade of legislation at all levels designed to combat poverty, increase access to health care, improve social mobility, raise standards of living, increase wages…

        Well, that apparently came to a screeching halt four years ago, judging by actual results. Even some prominent black leaders were roundly chastised for pointing this out after they threw fits over the worsening plight of minorities under Obama.

        Wanting to help, claiming to help, are different than helping. After all, who could possibly have done more to help the plight of workers than Stalin? Equal rights and full employment! Onward with the march of Soviet labor! It didn’t work and everybody lived in misery, but I’m sure they also had fools who argued that Stalin was obviously the best deal for the workers, because anyone who opposed Stalin was obviously an evil-capitalist factory owner who wanted to exploit the people.

        At present, the bravest people in the nation are blacks who publically support Romney because under Obama everyone is suffering, especially minorities.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          all I can hear is sparrows.Report

        • Avatar Johnny Scrum-half says:

          I wouldn’t think to blame Obama’s policies for the “worsening plight of minorities” that began “four years ago,” when there was a pretty big financial catastrophe that looks more like the culprit to me.Report

          • Avatar George Turner says:

            Yes, and if Obama is re-elected, the worsening plight of minorities will still be Bush’s fault, just “because!”Report

            • Avatar LWA (Lib With Attitude) says:

              You’re giving us the conservatives version of “Whats The Matter With Black America”, or why are black people voting against their own financial interest.
              Lets sweep away any argument over whether this is true or not, or whether yo are sincere or not, and stipulate that all is so.

              So why are black people so resistant to voting “correctly”, for a Republican?

              What could the GOP do to win them over?Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                The GOP can never win most of them over because there are some racist cards that the GOP won’t play, like accusing Democrats of burning black churches, raping black women, putting them in chains (even though Democrats actually did that, and even went to war for the right to keep doing it), etc. As Johnson said, “Them n*****rs know who to vote for. They’ll vote for me.” The GOP won’t touch that with a stick.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Because the guy who got the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts passed is the real racist. Yawn.Report

              • As usual, conservatives’ problems are everyone else’s fault but their own.Report

              • Avatar LWA (Lib With Attitude) says:

                Actually, I wrote that in a rare non-snarky moment.
                The Dems have lost the blue collar whites and the Repubs have lost the blacks for similar reasons, namely that they sense the respective parties don’t share their concerns.

                Palin voters do sense that liberals don’t share their values; all our talk of “helping the poor” only signals to blue collar voters that liberalism has nothing to offer the working class.
                I don’t think thats true, but what matters is perception. The 47% don’t think of themselves as the 47%; those who benefit from government are always Other People.

                Likewise, one can make the argument that Republican pollicies will benefit black people, but 40 years of the Southern Strategy is pretty hard to wipe out. Hell, one single set of Obama-as-witch-doctor signs from any given Tea Party rally could have unravelled the Party of Lincoln.Report

              • Avatar Teresa Rice says:

                If anyone is interested I wrote a post in response to the 47% comment Romney said at the fundraiser –

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Reality check: “If Bill Clinton had been in the White House and had failed to address this problem, we probably would be marching on the White House.” —Congressional Black Caucus chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)

                Some other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, however, have not been as restrained in expressing their frustration with President Obama, as well as with the tea party.

                “It’s not personal,” Cleaver insisted of their attitude towards Obama. “They’re attacking his policies, or lack thereof, with regard to this gigantic unemployment problem among African-Americans. If we can’t criticize a black president, then it’s all over.”

                Raw Story (

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        Now that the funny is aside, really the only way you can possibly convince yourself that the GOP gives a flying fart about any of that is if you believe, in your soul of souls, that trickle down economics and reduced regulation will bring about an American utopia.

        The thing is, this does very much appear to be true. Aside from the theoretical reasons to believe this, there’s the fact that, excepting resource-rich Norway, every country which implements the kind of economic policies the left favors is significantly poorer than the US. An expansive welfare state benefit the worst off in the short run, but there’s no reason to expect it to promote general prosperity.Report

        • Avatar LWA (Lib With Attitude) says:

          Countries like Canada, the UK, and Germany?
          Sure, if you say so.
          But lets look at the flip side- can we see examples of countries where Republican policies are enacted, and how they stack up? Stack up meaning, “promote general prosperity”.Report

    • Avatar Roger says:


      I assume your point was rhetorical and not serious. You clarify of course that both sides can rationalize their views and demonize the other side at the same time. I will add only that I believe neither side is likely as bad as the other side makes out. That said, I want nothing to do with either.Report

    • Mr. Turner: you position here implies that white Republicans know better what policies will most benefit minority groups and better have the interests of those groups at heart than the minority groups themselves (who are going to overwhelmingly and almost uniformly vote for Obama).Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck says:

        I think I’d paraphrase Douglass and say that helping black people turned out worse than hating them, because when white people hated blacks they left them alone.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        He was conservasplainin.Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        Mr. Turner: you position here implies that white Republicans know better what policies will most benefit minority groups and better have the interests of those groups at heart than the minority groups themselves (who are going to overwhelmingly and almost uniformly vote for Obama).

        I’m pretty sure that whites can look at minority and female unemployment numbers, income, and net worth and safely conclude that the minorities are worse off under Obama, especially relative to male whites who are also worse off. I’m sure white Christian and Jewsih males can also look at the plight of women under fundamentalist Islamic theocracy and conclude that those women are also not better off, even though white Christian and Jewish males aren’t Muslim women.

        Even Camille Paglia has abandoned Obama.
        Paglia storyReport

        • Avatar Kim says:

          I’m pretty sure that most people can conclude that women are better off when they aren’t in conservative right-wing theocracies, yes.
          But, Mike Dwyer thinks differently, I would suppose.

          In Israel recently, a woman was beaten for saying a prayer.Report

        • This analogy fails for several reasons. But the most obvious is that it complete ignores the fact that the people who get to define what constitutes minority groups being “better off” are the minority groups themselves. To claim otherwise is paternalism of the worst order. The comparison with Muslim women in the Arabic world is only made more absurd when you consider that Muslim women are effectively prohibited from defining their best interests; minority groups in the United States are not.Report

          • Avatar George Turner says:

            Okay, so only the minority group can decide if they’re better off, and of course they’re never wrong and are always in 100% agreement, because unlike metrosexual whites at Starbucks, they don’t actually have the capacity to think as individuals.

            Occassionally you might find one or two who think differently, but those few can be discounted as race-traitors who are inauthentic representatives of their group by the simple act of disagreeing with its consensus.

            Or, more simply, local folks are always better off backing a new mega-stadium for their sports team, and always better off paying the new quarterback $10 million, otherwise they wouldn’t get so upset with opponents of such measures, and of course only a White Sox fan can understand the best interests of the White Sox.Report

            • A few things:
              1. If we’re assuming economic well-being is everything, then it may well be the case that minorities are worse off today than they were four years ago. That, however, is a vastly different statement from saying they are worse off than they would have been had McCain been President or, for that matter, Romney. No one actually knows what things would look like economically right now under such hypothetical scenarios. But you know who is most likely to have the best idea? Minorities themselves. And all of this assumes that a President has autocratic and omnipotent powers, which of course, he does not.

              2. In reality, no one can decide for the group if the group is better off. Individuals in the group, however, can decide if they are better off as individuals. However, if an overwhelming majority of people in a group decide that option A is better for them, as individuals, than option B, perhaps in large part because of how option A treats them as part of the group, then it seems safe to say that option A is better for most people in that group.

              3. It is always paternalistic to define for someone else how they should evaluate whether they are “better off.” It is no less paternalistic to say “we’re going to force you to accept bans on contraception, an end to affirmative action, and severe cuts to welfare because they are what’s best for you” than it is to say “we’re going to force you to accept a ban on 32 ounce sodas because we know what’s best for you.” By contrast, saying “whatever the benefits of contraception, affirmative action, and welfare to particular groups, we have to end or reduce them because they’re having unacceptable effects on the rest of us” is not paternalistic.Report

            • Avatar Mumbles says:

              Consider this: I know several black people who have been laid off in the past few years. The majority of them worked in the public sector – and of course, black people are a disproportionate percentage of public workers throughout the country. As I recall, Obama constantly talks about how these people should be put back to work, while the GOP has loudly stated that we need to lay more public workers off, and that the remaining workers need pay cuts and benefit reductions – and have actively done so where they could. Now, as a black guy, I look at these facts, and conclude “my friends and family are out of jobs because of republican policies.”

              Also, the disparity in employment between black and white Americans can be traced back to the Great Migration, so blaming Obama for it is absurd.Report

            • Avatar George Turner says:

              1. If we’re assuming economic well-being is everything, then it may well be the case that minorities are worse off today than they were four years ago.

              Pretty much everyone is worse off today than four years ago, aside from the occassional Obama bundler and lotto winner. Minorities saw much steeper declines than whites did. However, given this new and profound insight that minorities must be supporting Obama because they’re actually better off, latte-sipping liberals at Starbucks have apparently decided that togetherness and some form of village wisdom trumps economic data, so I’m sure the Democrats plan to deliver more of what minorities really want, which is staggering unemployment, food stamps, poverty, and dependency. Republicans are no doubt skeptical, but what do they know about black people? They’ve never even owned any.Report

              • “However, given this new and profound insight that minorities must be supporting Obama because they’re actually better off…”

                Now you’re just deliberately ignoring the point.

                Also, too: insisting that “better off” must mean “making more money, on average,” and only that is exactly the type of paternalism I’m referring to.

                Seeing as you deliberately misread my first point, and chose not to address my other points, I think we’re done here.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                Well, the argument that they don’t care about money has been advanced by Democrats for ages. It started out as a retort to abolitionists who argued that it was wrong not to pay them. “But they’re always singing and dancing! They’re perfectly happy living as slaves!” Then it was a retort to social activists who were upset by the high poverty rates. “But they’re happy! They don’t have wants or cares like a white person would!” The refrain never changes. Now it’s that they have other life-measures, so it’s okay that they’re on food stamps and can’t find a job. Besides, they’re still singing and dancing…Report

              • Yeah, you’re arguing with what you wish I was saying, not what I’m actually saying.Report

              • Avatar Mumbles says:

                Um, I’m pretty sure “satisfied with food stamps” was actually a Newt Gingrich line.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          George, when it comes to race issues, I’m not comfortable saying one way or the other (certainly at this point in history). But when it comes to women’s issues, please keep in mind that in an election where the economy sucks, gas prices suck, we’ve had an attack on our embassy overseas in which diplomats were murdered, and in which unemployment feels really high, we’ve had Republican Politicians get up and give speeches in which they said, and I’m paraphrasing here, rape rape rape no abortion rape rape.

          So… yeah, I can see how chicks might say “You know what, I’m voting for the incumbent” despite the economy, gas prices, FoPo, and unemployment.Report

          • Avatar MFarmer says:

            two idiots can be found on either side, but the media just doesn’t concentrate so much on the idiots on the democratic side, and they’ve said some stupid shit.Report

        • Avatar Chris says:

          Even Camille Paglia has abandoned Obama.


    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      What’s the matter with the poor, minorities, and women?Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        Their lack of pasty skin and external genitalia is a significant hit, but what’s really wrong is their lack of cash.

        Having boobs or being black is forgiveable. Being poor? It is, as we’ve known since Calvin, proof you’re a lazy sinner whom God personally hates.

        Sounds sarcastic — and really is hyperbolic — but I’ve listend to lots of conservatives talk about the poor, and frankly if I didn’t actually KNOW any poor people I’d come away thinking they were lazy, black, had ten kids each, and paid for cadilliacs with their welfare money.

        Or were running around the inner city, shooting each other over drugs and getting diseases from all the sex.

        I admit, I’m really at a loss as to why rural and urban poor are viewed so differently (not that rural poor are viewed well — Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo and redneck/hillbilly jokes show that), but there is a strain of hatred and anger at the urban poor that is replaced with bemusement and mere contempt for the rural poor.

        Other than the fact that rural poor are generally stereotyped “white” and urban poor “black”, I can’t think of another reason to view the two so differently.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          ” Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo” was just a troll on Toddlers and Tiaras. It was not supposed to actually get made.
          (OTOH, you should Have Seen His Face! lolwhut, when he realized they actually made the show…)Report

        • Avatar LWA (Lib With Attitude) says:

          Because the rural poor identify with the wealthy white elite, and despise their dark skinned brethren.

          Sarah Palin/ George Wallace captured this dynamic- in their world, the white billionaire CEO is just a striving entreprenuer, while that black Womyn’s studies perfesser at the community college is The Elite personified.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            Yeah, that was kinda my point. Rural poor are…celebrated isn’t the right word, but the general lens they’re viewed in is entirely different than urban poor.

            And the only substantive difference I can see between the two is that urban poor are more likely to be minorities.

            It’s certainly not, oh, violence rates or drug use. But there’s a very solid and distinct difference in tone when talking about both that I can’t find any explaination for OTHER than race.

            Living in Texas, I can happily point to Jim Crow and speak rather knowledgeably (if anecdotally) about the rednecks in my own family tree (one entire side of which hail from the Texas version of the Appalachian hills, only possible less high brow) and I can assure you however the mainstream politicians view urban versus rural poor, the rural poor folks have a rather hefty mythos that often (here in Texas) has racial components (better poor white than poor black) and has a very, very, VERY solid streak of “Government help for me I earned, government help for “them” is rewarding lazy thugs”.Report

  5. Avatar James Hanley says:

    Wait…is that t-shirt in the picture for real?Report

    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

      It’s real that it exists. Not made by the R/R campaign, but it is real.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      Yes. The Romney campaign announced it was reprehensible.

      This goes to an underlying problem. We denounce open bigotry but not anything less or more subtle. Also it makes Sununu very galling.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Well kudos to the Romney campaign for taking note of it and denouncing it.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        The more attune one becomes to subtlety, the more likely false positives are to occur and a degree of disagreement over when the whistle is being blown.Report

        • Avatar NewDealer says:

          Fair enough but solution to dog whistles is not to ignore them. That simply allows people who blow dog whistles to get away with it.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman says:

            The problem is that dog-whistling charges themselves can bring conversation to a grinding halt. Want to talk about welfare policy? Crime policy? Against a black candidate? Well…

            That’s what makes this tough. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t call people on dogwhistles, but it’s going to involve people pushing back. At which point they’re going to be accused of being apologists for racism. And on and on.

            Which, again, is not to say they should be ignored. I don’t see any good way to handle this.Report

            • Avatar Roger says:

              I very, very much agree with Will’s warning here.

              It is like dismissing the intentions or rationality of one’s rhetorical opponents. In extreme cases, you have to come to the conclusion that the other side is playing dirty or incapable of being rational. But it is a terrible idea to start this way. It shuts down communication altogether.

              We need to be aware of the existence of Dog Whistles. But we also need to be aware of rationalizing away the other sides arguments because it can conceivably be explained away as hidden or even subconscious racism. This shuts down dialogue and learning and is the path to the dark side. It perverts our midichlorians.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck says:

              Or maybe just admit that sometimes, the only person who hears the dogwhistle is you.Report

          • Avatar LWA (Lib With Attitude) says:

            Regardless of dogwhistling, what made this guy assume he would be at home in the Romney campaign?
            And how come all the black people in attendance there didn’t…

            oh, hell, I can’t even type this.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      It’s real in that someone entered a Romney rally wearing a jacket on a hot day, moved to the back of the crowd where he couldn’t see the stage but was right in front of the press booth, then when the cheering started he pulled off his jacket and was wearing that T-shirt underneath it.

      So, yes, it’s real in that “it was present on a person at a Romney rally”.Report

  6. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    If you’ve forgotten, the 1988 election was H.W. Bush vs. Dukakis, and is generally considered to be one of the more shameful extended periods of recent American history.

    For some definition of “generally,” I suppose.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      Not to mention “more” and “extended”. Whatever your opinion on the Willie Horton ad, I don’t recall all of 1988 being like Jim Crow or anything.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Yeah, I don’t know what Elias is complaining about. We’ve been a lot worse.Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        What’s rarely discussed is that “Willie Horton” is just another dog whistle, a clever play on “Tim Horton” and a nationalistic dog whistle meaning “Canadian.”

        A decade or so ago in Florida a reporter used a police scanner to record Dade County cops constantly using the N word. In response, they started refering to blacks as “Canadians”, saying things like “There’s a bunch of Canadians hanging out around the Shell Station on 3rd and MLK. Bet there’s some drug deals going down.” Willie Horton is an inversion of the formula, hiding joingistic national sentiment behind the comfortable veil of domestic racism.

        When the Tim Hortons are allowed to run loose in American society, they slowly take over everything, pushing softwood lumber and moving through the heart of New England requesting Canadian maple syrup, Canadian bacon, and getting people to watch more hockey. Since even some of the top network news anchors are Canadian, real Americans have to slip the message past the media gatekeepers by disguising it as a black issue in the certainty that Canadian media poseurs will be too focused on pretending to understand American race issues to notice that the insults and derision are aimed at them.Report

        • Avatar DRS says:

          Sorry, George. I’m afraid we’re going to have to…eliminate…you now that you’ve blown our cover. Nothing personal, you understand.Report

  7. Avatar Teresa Rice says:

    Most conservatives I have come in contact with treat blacks the same way they would treat whites, with respect and dignity, so I’m not sure what you are referring to when you talk about the treatment of blacks by Republicans or conservatives. Unless you are talking about the politician and some public figures rather than ordinary citizens. Or are you simply referring to the policies conservatives believe?

    The problem is if a person has been brought up to believe in big government policies and to be reliant on the government to be their means of support then when people who believe the system needs to be reformed calls for reform and those who want to lift these people out of poverty (reliance on government) are called “racists” and thought of being against the poor and blacks.

    Democrats (politicians) believe in big government policies – more food stamps, more welfare, more spending and they almost kinda like need to at least fill their quota so they can keep up funding for this or that program. So they need as many people as possible to stay in these programs.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      you haven’t run into the conservatives I’ve run into. There are folks out there who treat indian reservations as their own personal rape preserves, where they can rape with impunity and never get punished.Report

    • Avatar Johanna says:

      Most conservatives I have come in contact with treat blacks the same way they would treat whites , who agree and act like them ,, with respect and dignity FTFY
      I grew up in a very conservative community and I live in one now. This is what I see. It is really easy to throw out generalizations as you have here, but your generalizations are quite inaccurate. Look at the picture on the top of this post, walk the halls at my high school or my daughter’s high school as a latino or low income African American or anyone who doesn’t act or look white and you will have a better understanding on why conservative views and policies aren’t seen by many as coming from a place of respect. I didn’t grow up getting handouts, I am not a fan of big government or expect government to solve societal ills, but when it comes to compassion and respect, the Democrats beat the Republicans no contest.Report

      • Avatar Roger says:


        My experience and everything I have read about it is that human nature has a tribalistic streak. People that are different from the mainstream — whatever that is– are misunderstood and avoided and put into categories. This is not any more common in conservative overwhelmingly white neighborhoods or schools than it is in overwhelmingly Hispanic, Chinese, or any other non diverse neighborhood. If you want to see tribalism in action, just wait until a redneck moves into a liberal white neighborhood.

        In general, my experience is that racism comes pretty easy to all of us. Indeed, one could even argue that pointing out a particular political party as especially racist is just tribalistic itself.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Yes, Teresa, and naturally you’re in favor of parents stealing vegetables from the grocery store so their kids grow up to be healthy and strong. (You didn’t think they’d actually get more money, somehow, from you taking away welfare, did you? Plenty of places in this country where the best job is raiding the dump for old coke bottles. $15000 a year or so, that salary).

      Yeah, yeah, you can strawman, and I can strawman. But there are real life consequences, and I don’t think I’m asking too much of you to at least look at them.

      Because those people stealing vegetables are real folks — they pay for the rest of their groceries, too…Report

  8. Avatar DRS says:

    Teresa, believe it or not, there are poor people who aren’t black and black people who aren’t poor.Report

  9. Avatar Teresa Rice says:


    What made you assume that I was only talking about black people when I commented about people who believe in big government and those who rely on government programs? Just because I referred to the treatment of blacks in the first paragraph doesn’t mean I was only talking about blacks or even had a specific race in mind when talking about those who believe in big government. I find it interesting that you assumed that.Report

    • Avatar DRS says:

      It was this sentence:

      The problem is if a person has been brought up to believe in big government policies and to be reliant on the government to be their means of support then when people who believe the system needs to be reformed calls for reform and those who want to lift these people out of poverty (reliance on government) are called “racists” and thought of being against the poor and blacks.

      Also: “these people” are otherwise known as Americans.Report

  10. Avatar Teresa Rice says:

    That would be obvious since we were/are talking about what is happening in America. I didn’t know that using the word people couldn’t refer to Americans especially when we’re talking about America. You are being a wee bit picky about wording.Report

    • Avatar DRS says:

      And you’re being a wee bit sloppy about wording.Report

      • Avatar Teresa Rice says:

        “And you’re being a wee bit sloppy about wording.” Not really… since I was talking about people who believe in big government and big government policies.

        I’m not the one who automatically assumed that a person was ONLY talking about blacks.

        I did say “against poor and blacks” so why are you assuming all blacks are poor?Report

        • Avatar DRS says:

          I understand you’re getting embarassed about your wording, so I won’t copy-and-paste your paragraph again, but do give it a look over and see how your meaning might be obscured by poor word choice.Report

  11. Avatar Teresa Rice says:

    That’s your opinion. Or just the way your reading what I wrote. Transferring what you believe into my writing.Report

    • Avatar DRS says:

      If it makes you feel better to think that, then go ahead. But I do think you could tighten up your word use a bit so your meanings are clearer.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Not to be obtrusive here, but the issue on the table is one of my pet peaves: when people who speak loosely accuse others of deliberately misinterpreting them. If there’s a thought there, then it can be expressed precisely. Or at least clearly. Maybe not on the first pass, of course, but soon enough.

        If it can’t be expressed precisely, then the thought itself isn’t precise. And that only encourages uncharitable readings.Report

  12. Avatar Teresa Rice says:

    Do you honestly think the words “poor” and “black” are synonymous?

    “….those who want to lift these people out of poverty (reliance on government) are called “racists” and thought of being against the poor and blacks.”Report

  13. Avatar Teresa Rice says:

    If a person is known to be of uncharitable character then they will be uncharitable in their reading or otherwise. It is self-evident that is the way you operate. If you think everyone who believes in big government policies and everyone who is dependent on government assistance is black then that’s what you think. That is NOT what I said no matter which way you try and spin it. If you are utterly incompetent that you are unable to read my words properly – like how they are written- then that’s your problem.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      {{Dammit, I shouldn’t have been obtrusive.}}

      You’re a very intelligent person Teresa. That’s evident from the content of your comments. If you think DRS is misinterpreting you, it seems to me the proper response isn’t to say it’s her fault. That’s all I’m saying.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        And even this might have been too quick. I don’t mean to impugn your integrity on this issue, as much to say that from a purely neutral pov (as an observer!), when two people disagree about something there is usually a misunderstanding in the terms being used, or the intent being expressed. That sort of thing. It’s generally not the case that one person is being willfully ignorant.Report