Beyond Showroom Diversity and Other Thoughts

Dennis Sanders

Dennis is the pastor of a small Protestant congregation outside St. Paul, MN and also a part-time communications consultant. A native of Michigan, you can check out his writings over on Medium and subscribe to his Substack newsletter on religion and politics called Polite Company.  Dennis lives in Minneapolis with his husband Daniel.

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293 Responses

  1. M.A. says:

    There ought to be a similar article written for the conservative antipathy to education and science.Report

    • superdestroyer in reply to M.A. says:

      Conservatives are not anti-education or anti-science. In the 1990’s conservatives were the ones leading the push against “Junk Science.”

      If you want to amuse yourself with education statistics look up the educational achievement gap between blacks and whites in every state. The gap is larger in many of the blue states that it is in the many of the red states. Progressives have demonstrated for decades that they have no ability to educate blacks and Hispanics any better than conservatives.Report

      • M.A. in reply to superdestroyer says:

        Ahh yes, “junk science.” The favorite conservative term for “stuff I don’t understand” or “stuff that contradicts the bible.”

        Today the GOP stands against teaching critical thinking skills in school, for fear it will lead to children questioning their parents’ assertions.
        Today the GOP stands continually trying to force creationism into schools.
        Today the GOP shows contempt for those who put in the time and effort to reach the level of a doctorate in any field, especially any doctorate who disagrees with the biblicalists.
        Today the GOP shows immense hostility towards the idea of making college affordable and the idea of making state-sponsored public universities viable.
        Today the GOP puts their worst anti-science people onto the House Science Committee. People like Todd Akin, Paul Broun, Michael McCaul, and Lamar Smith.

        The GOP and conservatives have no legs to stand on when it comes to science or education.Report

  2. Mike Schilling says:

    Speaking of Dreher, I was struck by this piece of his entitled Ebonics & Young Earth Creationism. He’s pointing out how foolish it would be to teach Creationism in public schools, and his reductio is that if you teach that kind of fringe science just because some of the parents want it, you’re going to have to teach genuinely ridiculous stuff like the way some of the black kids talk.Report

  3. greginak says:

    I agree it isn’t fair to say “conservatives=racism”. That certainly isn’t true. Other than in shoutfests i don’t’ think that even comes up. But after that you list several items that strongly suggest R’s have a major problem taking the concerns of black folk seriously, with race baiting, with trying to even offer solutions to problems blacks face and think solely offering up a few dark faces is good enough. The problems R’s have with blacks are glaringly obvious to every one except most R’s.

    I can tell from the liberal side, if i made any of the points you just made i would hear “RACE CARD…RACE CARD…RACE CARD” or “you just think all conservatives are racist”
    I not going to deny many D’s and liberal use the word racism to often or hurl stupid slander at R’s. However the reason why R’s sort of look hinky on race is pretty clear and also crying “you just think we are all racist” besides being unfair is a also a massive cop out to avoid dealing with the obvious issues they have. R’s need not only to listen to your suggestions but to also stop whining about the perceptions they have gone a long way to create.Report

    • greginak in reply to greginak says:

      PS Doing things that look a real, real lot like voter suppression is bad. The best defence is that they were trying to disenfranchise D’s of all colours, not just blacks. But that isn’t much of a defence. Given this countries ugly history of trying to stop minority groups from voting, that will always be a touchy issue. Just stay off that raw nerve is good advice.Report

      • Dennis Sanders in reply to greginak says:

        I have more to say on our voting process, but I can say that the voter ID issue is one example of being tone deaf to the concerns of blacks. I do think showing ID at a voting place is a sensible idea, one that is used in many other democracies. That said, with our history of blocking African Americans from voting, there was bound to be some resistance. Conservatives should have explained why this might be needed and how it wouldn’t threaten the voting rights of blacks. Instead, they got upset and offer wild conspiracy theories that basically fed into the perception that Voter ID was an attempt to supress the vote. The intent may have not been racist, but perception is everything and conservatives never did anything to change the perception or understand the historical context.Report

        • Dan Miller in reply to Dennis Sanders says:

          You are a lot more charitable than I am if you assume that the point of voter ID laws wasn’t to suppress voting by Dem constituencies, which certainly include black voters.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Dennis Sanders says:

          Instead, they got upset and offer wild conspiracy theories that basically fed into the perception that Voter ID was an attempt to supress the vote.

          Given the arguments conservatives actually made, it’s hard to come to the conclusion that the purpose wasn’t to suppress the vote.Report

        • Morat20 in reply to Dennis Sanders says:

          If the government actually issued, say, national ID cards like all those countries that require photo ID, I doubt anyone would be upset.

          Furthermore, given their stated goal is ‘to reduce voter fraud’ — in person voter fraud, which basically doesn’t happen — and yet they ignored absentee voters entirely, it’s very hard to believe it is anything other than a vote supression scheme.Report

        • Mike Schilling in reply to Dennis Sanders says:

          Conservatives should have explained why this might be needed and how it wouldn’t threaten the voting rights of blacks.

          “So that’s pretty much why we think voter ID is necessary to prevent fraud. It’s not aimed at suppressing the voters of any particular party, and certainly not at any particular racial or ethnic group. OK, any questions?”

          “Will African-Americans have any difficulty qualifying for a voter ID?”

          “See, that’s the kind of misconception I’m talking about. Voter ID is going to be a boon to African-Americans. For one thing, it really speeds up the identification process, which is really important when you only have one polling place per 50,000 registered voters.”Report

    • Dennis Sanders in reply to greginak says:

      “the reason why R’s sort of look hinky on race is pretty clear and also crying “you just think we are all racist” besides being unfair is a also a massive cop out to avoid dealing with the obvious issues they have. R’s need not only to listen to your suggestions but to also stop whining about the perceptions they have gone a long way to create.”

      Which is why I think conservatives need to stop getting upset everytime someone says they are racist. Instead of saying “woe is me” there needs to be a more concerted effort to press forward. Whining doesn’t win you anything.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Dennis Sanders says:

        Yeah, but…

        If you don’t respond to a criticism, it pretty much goes on record as being true. Calling someone a racist is just about the worst thing you can do, and I’m not going to sit back and let people get away with it. I agree that whining doesn’t accomplish much, but my instinctive response (punching the person in the face) doesn’t work well online, and causes all kinds of trouble offline.Report

        • greginak in reply to Pinky says:

          Being called a racist is the worst thing you can call someone????? Really, I’d say rapist is far worse and murderer is pretty bad also. How about traitor? Traitor sounds much worse then racist to me. Pedophile is way down there. Seems like there are lots of things worse than racist to call someone, especially since many people have owned up to having has racist beliefs that they changed, while once you finger a little kid, you’re sort of tarnished forever.Report

          • Stillwater in reply to greginak says:

            This is where I think both sides need to go Zen. If someone is called a racist and they know in their hearts that they aren’t, then there’s nothing to get upset about. It’s a crazy world, and people do crazy things, yeah? The only reason to think being called a racist is the worst thing is if they in fact think racism is the worst thing.

            I’ve been called a misogynist, a whitesplainer, a mansplainer, an ***hole, a dou***bag… lots of things. I usually take a pretty reflective attitude towards those accusations, because they might be accurate!

            I do get really irritated when I’m called a liar, tho. Grrr.Report

            • greginak in reply to Stillwater says:

              When you are accused of having of some “bad” belief seriously looking at yourself and what you have said to see if there is some truth to that is one kind of response. Immediately screaming how unfair the accusation is, is another kind of response. One of those responses can lead to a conversation another looks like someone is way over sensitive and won’t even think about it.Report

            • Brandon Berg in reply to Stillwater says:

              If someone is called a racist and they know in their hearts that they aren’t, then there’s nothing to get upset about.

              The problem is that in politics, perception matters more than reality. If a candidate is accused of racism, it doesn’t matter that the accusation is baseless—there are people who will take it seriously and vote accordingly. If someone accuses a commentator of saying something racist, it doesn’t matter that the accusation is disingenuous or the product of piss-poor reading comprehension, because there are people who will write him off as a racist and ignore anything else he says. If someone says a policy proposal is racist, it doesn’t matter that it’s bullshit; it still makes it harder for that policy to get enacted.

              When personally accused of racism, we private citizens can (and should) just tell the race card sharks to go fish themselves and not give them a second thought. The real problem with frivolous allegations of racism is the effect they have on politics.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                The problem is that in politics, perception matters more than reality.

                But none of us on this board are politicians. Unless … well … we think the words we write have more political significance than factual significance. Who thinks that?

                Those that do are engaging in propaganda and not honest discussion or debate.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                This is interesting. Democratic politicians are routinely called traitors, socialists, and pro-terrorists, but rarely with much effect, because we all know that the people doing it are full of malarkey. Why isn’t the same true about Republican politicians called racists? It must be because the accusers have more credibility.Report

              • M.A. in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                That and the fact that R’s have repeatedly committed racist rhetoric in the real and recent history.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to M.A. says:

                Ecch, anyone can quit sinning and turn around. Metanoia, the Greek word, theologians use it, a change of heart. Happens all the time. The angels rejoice in heaven when a sinner repents.

                The Republicans seem to have come around to a change of heart on immigration. Look, all this damnation from history is all fine and good, happens to be true, a good deal of it. All the more reason to lay off this line of rhetoric: we want the racist to have a change of heart. But that change of heart has to begin with an honest assessment of things as they are: we all harbour some ill-founded prejudices which honesty might compel us to acknowledge.

                All this Republican bilge about Democrats are this, Liberals think that, it can all be refuted from the evidence of our lives.

                I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the “isness” of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal “oughtness” that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.

                -Dr. Martin Luther King, Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1964.Report

              • M.A. in reply to BlaiseP says:

                All too true.

                But the change of heart, the truth of it, the believable response as opposed to the believable response; that tends to begin with three words, “I have sinned.

                What the GOP have been doing isn’t that. They deny they ever sinned, then they deny that their sins were sins, then we’re expect to believe they are turning over a new leaf anyways. Any wonder we’re not buying it?Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                As the worthy Dennis himself observed: Ignore the trash talk. The GOP isn’t a person.

                The Democrats sin and I don’t see them out there in sackcloth and ashes, repenting their manifest errors and shortcomings. I see both political parties shrieking and waving their bony fingers at each other. Obama promised to give us open government and he didn’t. Said he’d put up all those bills so people could read them. Said he wouldn’t have little confabs with lobbyists and he did. Look at all the grifters and Pharisees in the Democratic camp, all that slithery cuddling-up to the rich and powerful, not one prosecution of a crooked Wall Street exec, the continuing madness of domestic surveillance for its own sake, breeding a tiger this country will have to ride for many more decades, the greatest threat to civil liberties imaginable. Obama said he’d reform immigration and ended up repatriating even more undocumented workers than Bush43 ever did. Clinging to extraordinary executive powers, resorting to executive action in lieu of Congressional mandate, the list is very long and I’ve just gotten started.

                And when it comes to racism, the Democrats have tolerated, indeed maliciously encouraged, all manner of ethnic divisions to their own ends. The Democrats have never once stood up to the divisive Black Caucus and the Poverty Pimps and the disgraceful state of black leadership throughout this nation reflects their filthy cotton-wool-wrapped Racism of Low Expectations.

                Galatians 3:28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus..

                M.A. I just gotta say this. You’re well-intentioned I suppose, but we as Democrats have just gotta quit demanding of others what we don’t expect of ourselves. All this crapola about how the GOP denies its sins, we deny our own. Mote, beam, etc.Report

              • Kim in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Well, Blaise, then I guess I don’t know many Democrats. Cause I sure as hell know folks who stood up against the Black Caucus.Report

              • Wardsmith in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Blaise, This is an awesome post. Both parties are rat bastards and or tolerate rat bastards in their midst. MA must be too young to remember when it was the Democrats doing 100% of the voter suppression, he imagines the GOP invented it. When Democrats accuse the GOP of passing Jim Crow laws, they’re counting on the ignorance of their audience to not know that it was the FISHING DEMOCRATS who passed the original Jim Crow laws. He would probably be shocked to learn Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican, Dennis is in good company. The GOP took one hell of a lot of lumps fighting against the abuses of the Democrats over 100 years. Naturally the MA’s of the world want to pretend that never happened, along with the Pelosi’s of the world natch.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to BlaiseP says:

                See, Ward, we know this stuff, but it’s ancient history. You might as well go on about how people always diss the Greens, but the Blues were the real racists.

                But great drive-by on Pelosi. I mean, why do you think it’s called Jim FraciscoCrow?Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Thanks, Ward. I call ’em like I see ’em. If there’s one thing I’d change about the political debate, I’d make the GOP quit with misquoting old Ronald Reaganism about “…the government is not the solution to the problem, the government IS the problem.”

                When he said it, the country was in an economic crisis. The entire sentence reads “In this present [economic] crisis, the government is not the solution to the problem, the government IS the problem.” There was a crisis, all right, and it took lots of government intervention to turn things around.

                When the GOP lays off this simplistic crap about how the government is the enemy, it will make some headway with ordinary people. Of course government can get out of control, but an out of control society is no better. I just don’t understand why the GOP has to say NO to everything proposed out of political spitefulness.Report

          • Pinky in reply to greginak says:

            You know what, yeah, being called a racist is about as terrible a thing as you can do, at least the way I was raised. It discredits your entire thought process. To judge someone on the basis of his race means that you’re no better than an animal. If you want to call me a pedophile, show me a picture of me fingering a boy. That we can judge in public. But don’t claim that my motivations aren’t pure in the way I treat others. Them’s fighting words, made that much worse by the fact that there’s no way for me to defend against them.Report

            • Roger in reply to Pinky says:

              Well said, Pinky!

              The term racist is the modern day equivalent to calling someone a heathen or a bastard or wife beater. It is thrown around WAY too casually, without adequate expectations of the burden of proof. The worst abuse of them all is accuse someone of being a racist dog whistler. This has the added advantage of allowing anyone to accuse anyone else of being a heathen bastard by subjectively assuming what it is another person meant when they used a term.

              Charges of racist and dog whistler are underhanded rhetorical tricks that undermine any hope of rational discussion. It is more productive to just tell them their mom wears army boots.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Roger says:

                Given the OP and this subthread, I can’t help but think you’re favorably viewing the opposite side of the coin you’re rejecting. (Crazy I know!)Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Roger says:

                And you know who goes straight to that kind of name-calling? The moochers, the looters, the traitors, the takers, the statists, and the nanny-state socialists.,Report

              • Pinky in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I’ve never called anyone those things – well, I’ve called people statists, but that’s when they’re advocating policies that expand the state. I’m not going to make assumptions about a person’s motives. If someone denies that he’s motivated by a particular thing, I’ll assume he’s telling the truth if I can possibly reconcile it with his actions/prescriptions. There are perfectly rational reasons that a person could advocate for or against voter ID’s. I’m not going to assume that you’re trying to promote voter fraud. You don’t have the right to assume that I’m acting out of racism.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Pinky says:

                When I hear politicians who are pushing Voter ID saying that it’s the key to winning elections, I can assume that their goal is to suppress the vote against them.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Not necessarily. It could be that they just want to diminish voter fraud. Personally, I support voter ID laws without regard to whether they’d improve my candidates’ chances.Report

              • M.A. in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Your entire argument rests on the idea that voter fraud actually exists on a scale that matters, Pinky.

                It’s been proven time and again that rhetoric to that effect is nothing but lies and pretext. And when your side’s entire justification is lies and pretext, well, that would be why we don’t trust your side’s motives any more than your lies and pretext.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                MA – A right-winger may well answer that your failure to exercise even simple precautions against voter fraud indicates that your side shouldn’t be trusted. He might even put it in bold font. But that wouldn’t make it fair. The fact is, I believe that the flawed reasoning you’re using is honest.Report

              • M.A. in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                We fail to enact “simple precautions” against a threat of such limited impact and probability that it asymptotically approaches zero.

                In the same way we fail to enact “simple precautions” of erecting inch-thick steel meteor strike shields above every household.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Pinky: If the GOP were serious about voter fraud, they’d go about it in a different way. For starters, they’d care about absentee ballots.

                Actually, for starters they’d say “Wait, in person voter fraud? It doesn’t actually happen, and if it did it’d still be the stupidest, most useless form of voter fraud imaginable. Anyone with brains would rig the count or machines, which is traditionally how voter fraud has been done.”

                And by “traditionally” I mean “the only way to rig a vote that has more than a thousand or so voters”.

                One has to either assume the GOP is run by complete morons who are accidentally supressing Democratic votes, or the GOP is run by people with a few functioning brain cells who want to supress votes and are using ‘voter fraud’ as the excuse. There’s really not a lot of middle ground here.

                (All those graveyards voting? Did you think they bussed in voters to play the dead? No. They just enrolled the graveyards so they could add votes by rigging machines. It’s very suspicious when only 10,000 people vote but your tally has 20,000 votes on it)Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                They really think that there’s so much in-person voter fraud that it swings elections? That would require a huge leap of faith, since there is no data anywhere to support it.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Well, they must. Otherwise why are they passing laws that they have actual proof are supressing thousands or tens of thousand of legitimate votes in their states?

                Unless the GOP believes better to deny 10,000 real voters than to allow 1 fraudulent vote. (One fradulent in-person vote. Absentee ballot fraud is OK).Report

              • M.A. in reply to Pinky says:

                And yet.

                All this held until one night in 2006. At the time, my roommate worked at a local bank branch, and that evening when we got into a conversation, he mentioned to me that the bank required two forms of identification to open an account. Of course, who wouldn’t? But then he told me this crazy thing: customers would show up with only one ID or none at all — and it wasn’t like they had left them at home.

                “Really?” I said, blown away by the thought of it.

                “Yeah, really.”

                And here was the kicker: every single one of them was black and poor. As I’ve written elsewhere, this was one of the moments that opened my eyes to a broader reality which, in the end, caused me to quit the Republican Party.Report

            • greginak in reply to Pinky says:

              Okay if you think being a called a racist is worse then being called a rapist that is fine by me. I don’t see it myself.

              There is a way to “defend” yourself against racism. Its to seriously listen to why someone said that. Let me say this clearly PLENTY OF PEOPLE THROW AROUND THE CHARGE OF RACISM WAY TO OFTEN. Was that clear. But if someone points out that a certain policy is going to have far more impact on certain minority groups or if it looks targeted straight at them, then thinking about race and how the other person might see it, seems wise.

              And i still think there are far worse things than being called a racist.Report

        • Dan Miller in reply to Pinky says:

          The best way to respond would be for the GOP to reliably attain 30% of the black vote, have more than a few black delegates and officials, and stop indulging in racially charged rhetoric.Report

  4. Stillwater says:

    Regarding point three: you said you don’t think Romney nor the GOP is racist but that they don’t understand nor care to understand black people’s issues and concerns. I guess you’re trying to make a distinction between a desire to actively harm African Americans (racist) and a lack of desire to do anything at all (disregard?). I guess I can see the distinction, and in some sense I think it’s valid. One way it might make sense is to say that ideologically conservatives aren’t racist since the principles and policies they espouse are color-blind, and in particular, aren’t intended to harm or disproportionately negatively effect blacks.

    Problem is, that ideological argument doesn’t map onto the politics of the issue very well since conservative’s failure to court (or even communicate with) blacks and black communities is intentional. Or appears to be, anyway.Report

    • M.A. in reply to Stillwater says:

      “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money.” – Rick Santorum, considered frontrunner for GOP nomination.

      But don’t worry, racism isn’t at all a part of the same party that produced Santorum, or any of the other stuff assembled here.

      Colin Powell says “there is a dark vein of intolerance in the Republican Party.

      His former chief of staff , Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, was even more blunt: “Let me just be candid: My party full of racists. And the real reason a considerable portion of my party wants President Obama out of the White House has nothing to do with the content of his character, nothing to do with his competence as Commander in Chief and President, and everything to do with the color of his skin. And that’s despicable.”

      To argue that every member of the GOP is a hardcore racist is incorrect. It is however my view that those non-racist memebrs of the GOP who aren’t cleaning up their party are engaging in self-deception, a sort of “see no evil, hear no evil” while ignoring the loudness of their party’s speak-lots-of-evil wing.Report

    • superdestroyer in reply to Stillwater says:

      the of misunderstanding is wrong. In many of the red states, white Republicans live in much closer proximity and have more interactions with blacks that liberals in most of the blue states.

      However, what most conservatives learn from their interactions with blacks is that blacks are the most liberal voting group in the U.S, that black support very high taxes on others, that blacks support a separate and unequal view of government, and that blacks have zero interest in any conservative issue.

      Do you really think that the more conservative party can really appeal to a demographic gropu where over 70% support race-based reparations?Report

      • Michelle in reply to superdestroyer says:

        Do you have any statistics to back up this rant? Voting Democratic does not necessarily equate with being liberal, especially given that the other option is a party that uses race as a means of divide and conquer.

        Having lived in a few big blue cities (Chicago, LA, Philly) and now a red state, I’d say my daily interactions with black people are about equal. Then again, if you live and work in a large urban area, you’re likely to have interactions with people of color, immigrants, and a whole lot of people who are different than you are.Report

      • ThatPirateGuy in reply to superdestroyer says:

        Also in red states white democrats can listen to white conservatives go on racist rants that include racial slurs and calls to lynch the president.

        We can also see conservative city councils members name parks after the founder of the KKK.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Stillwater says:

      Having concluded that color-blindedness is the appropriate attitude to hold and the best way to demonstrate absence of racism, reaching out to people of color specifically is something that feels very uncomfortable because it might be racism. And it’s not easy to find the nuance between treating people equally and at the same time being aware that not all people are equally situated. Nuance is not something that the GOP does well. (Not the Democrats are all that much better at it.)

      I suppose a GOP that offers decent policies about education, poverty, equalization of justice, and violence — and “cut taxes, more standardized tests, and give everyone deadly guns” are not those policies — is better than the present and yes, such a party will attract a larger number of blacks than it does currently.

      But the dog whistles have got to stop. It’s possible to identify Republicans who do reach out, who want to make inroads into the black community, who see in the black community strong church-centered communities and people who want strong families and the chance to work hard so as to get ahead in life, and to pitch to them that they want the same things for everyone and look, here’s some policies we like which we think would do those things, won’t you join us in making them happen? But their efforts are thwarted by other Republicans who say the most jaw-dropping things, and the Republicans who reach out then have to go back and rebuild their credibility again from square one.Report

      • M.A. in reply to Burt Likko says:

        But their efforts are thwarted by other Republicans who say the most jaw-dropping things, and the Republicans who reach out then have to go back and rebuild their credibility again from square one.

        If only they didn’t do things like let the bigots, racists, homophobes, and irresponsible gun owners represent the party.

        But Romney’s campaign actively ran off their most prominent, openly gay worker.
        And instead of saying “these people are too stupid to represent us”, the GOP puts people like Akin and Mourdock on the House Science Committee.

        I think we’re back to the problem of those who are content to simply sit by, pretending the worst of it doesn’t exist, rather than cleaning up their party. There is guilt by commission and guilt by omission, some of the GOP are guilty of one and some of the other and the pair add up to at least 90% of their membership rolls, with the remaining 10% who are guilty of neither and actively trying to clean up their acts far too few in number to have any effect.Report

  5. Leet Shure says:

    “At some point, somewhere in the last 40 years, the GOP just stopped taking Blacks seriously and ceded the community to the Democrats.”

    That is the most gracious summation of the Southern Strategy I have ever encountered.Report

    • Michelle in reply to Leet Shure says:

      Agreed. While I don’t think Republicans are racists per se, since the 1970s, they’ve gone out of their way to play on whites’ fears of black people as a means of winning votes. I think they pretty much ceded the African-American community to the Democrats after the 1960s, figuring they didn’t need black votes to win national elections. “Urban,” for Republicans, provides a code word for “places inhabited largely by minorities and other Democrats.” Hence their desire to limit the power of the big cities through gerrymandering and their latest electoral college schemes. Given that their base is rural and suburban, I don’t see Republicans addressing the needs of urban dwellers anytime soon.Report

      • superdestroyer in reply to Michelle says:

        The Republicans are the family of middle class married whites with children and grandchildren. The places in the U.S. that are the least friendly to middle class whites who want to have children are the urban cores. Housing the the few good neighborhoods is incredibly expensive, the public schools are lousy, the crime levels were higher, and the standard of living for married middle class whites is poorer. Liberal white Democrats have the lowest birthrates of any group in the U.S. That is why cities are very liberal and have almost no conservatives.Report

  6. Jason M. says:

    Seventh, if the GOP wants to make conservatism attractive to African Americans, it needs to start paying attention to cities again.,/i

    Antipathy for cities is a profound problem for the GOP, with consequences that reach far beyond and African American outreach.Report

  7. Michael Drew says:

    Dennis, if you ever wanted to give your take on how you think both/either race-baiting and/or (especially) dog-whistling work as intentional or unintentional political communication phenomena, I’d be really interested to read it. We’ve had discussions trying to chart out what exactly *is* a dog-whistle communication here before – how to define it in the abstract, recognize it, etc. – relating earlier to the food stamp meme in the campaign, and then recently in the context of anti-Semitism and the Hagel nomination (though we didn’t discuss it so much in the latter case). I’d be very interested to hear your general thoughts on these phenomena – how to recognize, understand, and deal with them so that they neither allow unspoken bigotry to do its dirty work in politics, nor unduly constrict dialogue about race and ethnicity.Report

  8. BlaiseP says:

    The American Conservative movement has consistently opposed Affirmative Action over the years. I have my own problems with AA but do not see any alternative: nobody who comes out of the courthouse after a well-tried case is happy. The fact is, America is not done with racism and perhaps it never will be.

    When the laws against racism were passive, nothing changed. Those who would complain about Activist Judges, a common refrain among today’s Conservatives, should understand how any changes were made.

    I’ve known racism and racists. There’s a phenomenon in Israel called “My Neighbour Hassan”. You’ll find many Israelis hate the Palestinians in general. “Oh they’re all terrorists, intent upon the destruction of Israel, etc. rant rant froth froth…. but not my neighbour Hassan and his wife Aliyah. They’re great people, we babysit each other’s kids, they’re over on weekends… hee hee, I even helped him get his paperwork through for his house to be built. Now why can’t all Palestinians be like Hassan and Aliyah?”

    It’s a variant on the old argument “Some of my best friends are black”. Except in this case, Hassan and the old Likudnik really are friends. The old Likudnik sees no incongruence between his positions about Palestinians-in-toto and his take on Hassan as an individual.

    I don’t see the GOP recovering from the continuing madness of driving off their moderates. Every time a Republican exhibits an iota of sanity, he’s immediately attacked by his own party. I don’t see that coming to a halt any time soon.Report

    • M.A. in reply to BlaiseP says:

      The problem with your argument, BlaiseP, is that Hassan and his wife are likely to be Palestinian Israelis. And I’ve known a few of them; they (from my own experience) are actually harder on the Palestinian Palestinians than even the Likudniks, because it’s the Palestinian Palestinians (Hamas & Fatah) screwing things up and causing everyone else to worry about the possibility of Palestinian Israelis being sleeper agents.

      Plus, the era of suicide bombings didn’t help in two ways: #1, it caused tremendous suspicions and #2, a suicide bomb makes a Palestinian Israeli just as dead as a Jewish Israeli. They have suffered just as much from the decades of Fatah and Hamas terrorism as have Jewish Israelis, Christian Israelis, or anyone else of Israeli citizenship or residence.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to M.A. says:

        One thing we’ve known since the 1980s, the “Black Vote” is something of a myth. People who’ve “made it” vote their zip code, not their colour. Every analogy fails, perhaps this one fails particularly early. Hassan and Aliyah have corollaries in the collar counties of Chicago, a city whose politics I understand well enough to say so.

        We talk about “white flight”, a phenomenon which afflicted Flint Michigan, Chicago and dozens of other American cities. It’s afflicted cities in the UK and France, too. But we don’t talk about Black Flight, the black families who fled the dying cities into the collar counties. Some neighbourhoods on Manhattan such as Five Points went through half a dozen ethnic identities in their turn, moving out as the next group of immigrants arrived.

        This goes to Dennis’ point about how the GOP should to reach out to cities. But they’re moving against the tide: Conservatives aren’t city people. Both Hassan and the Likudnik have more in common than they have issues which separate them and you can bet your life they talk about it over steaks on the grill. People vote their zip code, not their colour.

        But this thread isn’t going to be dragged off into the weeds of the I/P fight. I chose the My Neighbour Hassan parable because it describes why people can harbour bad thinking about groups of people in general yet maintain the opposite opinion of specific people within that group.Report

    • superdestroyer in reply to BlaiseP says:

      More than blacks are eligible for affirmative action. Those who will receive amnesty is any form of comprehensive immigration reform will be eligible for affirmative action and so will their children.

      What do people who came to the U.S. for more freedom and economic opportunity need to benefit from affirmative action to make up for past racism in the U.S. It seems that blacks and others want to play a game of head we win and tails you lose and it is middle class whites who pay the price.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to superdestroyer says:

        Here’s a case in point: Augusta Georgia police department was entirely composed of white men. Though the demographics of Augusta GA are 54% black, there wasn’t one black patrolman on the force. So they were forced to hire on some black patrolmen. Time goes by. None of those black patrolmen were ever promoted. More passive legislation. Nothing happened but a promotion test black patrolmen never seemed to pass. Finally it goes to State Supreme Court and AA laws are applied.

        Let’s not have any of this boo-hooing and maudlin self-pity about Middle Class Whites who pay the price for anything. That’s complete bullshit and we both know it. The only people who were paying any sort of price were the black people of Augusta Georgia. The very effing idea that somehow half a city can be black and the police department has to be compelled into hiring any Nigger Patrolmen, then after many years, to be again compelled to promote any of them, well it’s contemptible. In the rigged game of racism, only compulsion seemed to work. Physics defines a difference between Effort and Work. Work accomplishes something. This wasn’t a case of making up for Past Racism, it was the only remedy for Present Racism.Report

        • superdestroyer in reply to BlaiseP says:

          Thank you for falling into the trap of blaming everything on middle class whites. I always find it refreshng with progressives are open in their belief that it is OK to discriminate against whites and deny them due process when it benefits nonwhites and that it is OK to have different hiring and promotion standards for white and black policemen because it only punishes middle class and blue colar whites. The same can be shown to be OK for public school teachers, civil servants, or in government contracting. However, blacks and Hispanics are held to the same standard for passing the bar exam, their medical licensing exam, or even to be airline pilots.

          I guess the elite do not mind discriminating against whites as long as the elites do not pay any costs due to the discrimination.Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to superdestroyer says:

            Thank you for denying the historical record. Furthermore, thank you for making the allegation none of those black candidates were worthy of admission to the ranks of uniformed police officers or furthermore, worthy of promotion.

            For if we are to take this comment at face value, it is a matter of record that blacks and Hispanics are not equal, that their qualifications are always less than those of White People, that their presence in the ranks of the promoted is always because they are held to inferior standards. Why not just come out and say so?Report

            • superdestroyer in reply to BlaiseP says:

              I thought progressives were the reality based community and could actually understand statistics. No one is claiming that all blacks were unqualified. However in any call for applications such as policeman, a much larger percentage of whites will be qualified than blacks or Hispanics and the only way to hire a sufficient number of minorities for diversity purposes is to discriminate against whites See

              What is odd is that is is progressives who claim they support equality always find an excuse to discriminate for social engineering purposes. Of course, the test results from the bar exams, from professional engineer exam, from medical boards, or even the foreign service exam demonstrates this. It is amazing that progressives refuse to face statistics or facts that do not support their political views.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to superdestroyer says:

                You weren’t claiming all blacks were unqualified? When I pointed to actual evidence where there were NO black people on the police force, how did you respond?

                Thank you for falling into the trap of blaming everything on middle class whites. I always find it refreshng with progressives are open in their belief that it is OK to discriminate against whites and deny them due process when it benefits nonwhites and that it is OK to have different hiring and promotion standards for white and black policemen because it only punishes middle class and blue colar whites.

                Now in this case, all those racist police officers were white guys. Unless any of them were privately wealthy, they were middle class. So yeah, in this case, that’s exactly what I’m saying, I’m blaming this situation on middle class white guys. Got a problem with that, Superdestroyer? That’s an accurate assessment of the problem as it manifested.

                Now I also said blind barbers give bad haircuts. This problem wasn’t resolved via the political process, which might have produced some viable standard whereby a few qualified black police officers might have been hired. These fucking bigots, yes, your middle class white guys, who I’m blaming entirely for this problem as it arose, once again had a solution rammed up their backsides whereby the remedy was not political but legal. They had to promote some black guy, regardless of his qualifications.

                You’re the one defending social engineering here. You might have said something about how unfair it was for those Middle Class White Guys to run their little social experiment on Augusta Georgia on the basis of an entire social engineering experiment called Jim Crow. But you didn’t. Instead, we get all this maudlin blubbering and whining and the most repulsive display of blaming the victim it’s been my fate to endure since I got here.

                Now dry your eyes and get right: when SCOTUS decided to interpret Title VII so actually qualified white candidates were given a fair shot at hiring based on a legit fire fighting test, it was proof enough this country has the good sense to recognise actual qualifications and not mere set-asides. A few minorities did manage to pass that test. None passed Augusta Georgia’s curious little test.Report

  9. John Howard Griffin says:

    I think you’re in denial about a lot of this, Brother Dennis. But, it’s probably not worth heading toward that shouting match.

    What you say is all well and good, but what policies can conservatives possibly offer to black folk? It’s not that they don’t care, it’s that they have nothing to offer. I don’t know anyone who thinks that conservatives give a $hit about us. Most people I know think conservatives actively hate us – just listen to what they say and watch what they do.

    And, as for racism, there is a fair-sized conservative media machine out there. None of this is going to change as long as there is money to be made by saying racist things or just blaming blacks.

    (And, welcome from a fellow Michigander – I grew up in Detroit)Report

    • Kim in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

      I hung out at Field Negro’s site long enough to get an earful on how conservative blacks really are.
      You get some preacherman like Huckabee up there, get him to start talking about how we need strong communities — and how you’re gonna help churches start their own credit unions (like they do in the inner city)…
      Pull something up like what UofPittsburgh is doing, where they’re helping urban businessmen grow bigger, hire more people.
      Hell, just sit down, and say, “Before Jobs, We need food! Fast food is stealing money from babies” and start saying, there will be a bit of funding for popup grocery stores (Fishes and Loaves, down the hill from us).

      Pitch it small, keep it tight and focused.Report

  10. Kazzy says:

    Great piece, Dennis. And a very belated welcome.

    When I think of George W. Bush and his appointment of two black SecStates (both of whom were highly qualified) and then when I think of this statement:
    “But what conservatives don’t know is that many African Americans tend to be in a more precarious situation than whites when it comes to employment.”
    … and the ease with which you can substitute a number of other things for “employment”, I think of a group of people who have moved towards the long-advocated viewpoint of “colorblindness”. I think GWB was the sort of guy who would interact people regardless of race, something people of his generation were told was the ideal position to take to undo racism. However, I think we’ve since realized/learned that to ignore color and race is to deny the very real divergent experiences that people of different races have in this color. So when Republicans/conservatives advocate for a policy that uniquely impacts people of color in negative ways, they don’t see how it could be the policy’s fault; after all, the policy wasn’t intended to impact PoCs… it just happened to.

    I think colorblindedness was/is an important step for our society. For entirely too long we were a nation that explicitly considered race and did so destructively. We had to stop this. Being colorblind was a way to. However, we now realize that we can’t ignore race, we can’t be “colorblind” because it denies very real realities. We have to move back towards color conscious, but in a way that is constructive. But moving from color conscious in a destructive way to color conscious in a constructive way is a bridge too far; colorblindedness served as a stepping stone.

    The best conservatives on race tend to be strongly entrenched in the “colorblind camp”, something I can’t necessarily fault them for because that was what they grew up being taught was the goal. I don’t think GWB looked at Colin Powell and saw a black man; he looked at him and saw a highly qualified SecState. This is good and bad. Colin Powell IS a black man. And he IS a highly qualified SecState. Depending on the circumstances, we are going to need to view him more as the former than the latter and, in others, more as the former than the latter. But we should never view him as only one or the other or deny the realities of being black (or Latina or gay or female) in America today.Report

    • Mike in reply to Kazzy says:

      I think that’s one of the issues that make it difficult for conservatives to reach out to Blacks; conservatives in particular and the Republican Party in general has adopted “color-blindness” as their answer to racial issues. They took King’s “Content of our character” speech and stopped there. But King, blacks, and the Democrats moved on from that. That’s thin offering to a black population that consider’s color-blindness as being thrown to the wolves.Report

  11. Kolohe says:

    Good post, Mr. Sanders. I wonder if you had any thoughts of the possibility on big C Conservatives and African Americans finding common ground (and eventual political alliance) in cultural conservatism. (though I personally am the most opposed to the cultural conservative wing of the Republican Party over any other faction in American politics today)

    Also, for the comment thread, while everyone’s patting themselves on the back on how much better they are than the Republicans, I’ll just to point to this again. The Democrats also have a fairly sizable intraparty split along racial lines, when things come down to zero sum contests.Report

  12. Roger says:

    The research on racism by party affiliation is interesting and nuanced. Here is the best study I am familiar with. Oddly, it reveals republicans are most guilty of a type of reverse racism. They seem to have lower expectations and thus overcompensate in rewarding what they see as good behavior. I suggest everyone read it….

    And here is another bit to consider….

    If anyone else has links to research, it would be appreciated.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Roger says:

      I haven’t clicked through the links, but I think it is important to note that there are a variety of ways that racism can manifest itself. I’m surprised that Republicans are most guilty of the type of “reverse racism” described; I tend to think of Dems/liberals as being more often guilty of the racism of low expectations/paternalism.

      Thanks for sharing these.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy says:

        While the Bush administration did appoint a number of high-profile minorities, they weren’t overall much of a success:

        * Colin Powell — effectively no voice in foreign policy after being marginalized by the Cheney-Rumsfeld axis
        * Condaleeza Rice — marginalized by the same group. No successes to point to.
        * Alberto Gonzales — almost comically inept

        In fact, if you were of the opinion that “those people aren’t ready for the big jobs yet”, you wouldn’t have to look anywhere else for corroboration.Report

    • Dan Miller in reply to Roger says:

      Why do you think it is, then, that African-Americans vote so heavily for Democrats? Rural or urban, rich or poor, churchgoer or secular–no matter what the crosstab, black voters go for Dems at astonishing rates. I’d be interested to hear what you think causes this.Report

      • Roger in reply to Dan Miller says:

        I will go with what Dennis is suggesting above. I think Democrats reach out to them, include them and this self reinforces itself.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Roger says:

          a) Isn’t that exactly what politics is?

          b) Doesn’t the same analysis apply to conservatives? That they don’t reach out to black, don’t include them, and that that reinforces itself?

          (Note: no libertarian views were impugned or implied in the above comment.)Report

          • Roger in reply to Stillwater says:

            Yes both timesReport

            • Stillwater in reply to Roger says:

              Hmmm. Then you haven’t really answered Dennis’ question, it seems to me.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Roger says:

                Your total analysis of the reason why blacks vote overwhelmingly for Democrats is that Democrats reach out to them and the GOP doesn’t.

                Fair enough. Only a racialist liberal would wonder why that might be the case.Report

              • Roger in reply to Stillwater says:

                I’m not arguing with anyone here.

                My point was indeed that political coalitions create a self amplifying dynamic. More of one group gets attracted to one party. They then become part of the agenda. Which attracts more to that party. Then the agenda is crafted or tuned to the even larger proportion. It self amplifies.

                My attempted contribution to the dialogue though was the research on racism by party. The take aways from the fascinating first article are that conservatives have lower expectations and that racism is a factor of education, not party affiliation. The uneducated are more likely to be racist. Educated republicans are not more likely to be racist than educated democrats. Libertarians, of course are above the fray altogether. Just kidding.

                But do read the research. FASCINATING.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Roger says:

                I’ll read it, Roger.

                But I have to say, you still haven’t answered Dennis’ question. Providing an apolitical account of how individual people become racists has reveals nothing about why a political group (the GOP) fails to reach out to black communities.

                As I see it, anyway.Report

              • Roger in reply to Roger says:

                Who elected me as question answerer? LOL

                Seriously though, once a coalition forms around a political party, the process self amplifies. I DO suspect that uneducated, racist whites are a coalition that belongs greatly to the GOP. Of course not all uneducated racists are white.Report

              • trumwill mobile in reply to Roger says:

                The charitable explanation is that it is attempts to do so have been unsuccessful due to history and/or policy preferences and it’s a misallocation of finite resources.

                The uncharitable explanation is that they internally or consciously disregard black people.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Roger says:


                The uncharitable explanation is that they internally or consciously disregard black people.

                Wait, I thought that was the charitable interpretation. It’s better than the view that conservatives are actively trying to harm black people, no?

                I’m not quite willing to concede that it’s an uncharitable interpretation. I think it’s an accurate description.Report

              • trumwill mobile in reply to Roger says:

                My view of political parties is that they do not seek to help or hurt anybody. They seek coalitions to win elections and help or hurt people on the way to doing so.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Roger says:

                Sure. I’m down with institutional analyses. They go a long way, cover a lot of ground.

                The question on the table is why the GOP fails to actively court black voters. Presumably, according to an institutional analysis, conservatives refrain from doing so they believe an effort to form a coalition with blacks won’t help them win elections.

                Why do conservatives think that?Report

              • trumwill mobile in reply to Roger says:

                Experience. The returns have been limited where they’ve been tried (arguably but not necessarily because they weren’t tried enough). That the history and the policy disagreements create an un bridge able gap. An inability to get everybody on board or the belief that for all the reasons above the ceiling is too low to expend resources.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Roger says:


                Do you think there is a segment of conservative/Republican voters who would become less likely to vote for cons/Rs if they were to actively court black voters, even if the results of the active courting had no bearing on that segment?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Roger says:

                Excellent Kazzy. That’s one important issue. I was fumbling around for an unmuddled response and gave up. You nailed it.

                One issue is whether blacks are receptive to contemporary GOP messaging. (I think they aren’t.) Another issue is why the GOP doesn’t change it’s messaging (and policies) to appeal to black voters. My guess on that one is that the loss of traditional conservative support wouldn’t be offset by gains in black voters.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Roger says:

                Or I should say, the expected cost of changing rhetoric and policies to appeal to even a subset of black voters wouldn’t be offset by gains.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Roger says:

                I’m glad I could help out but, just for the record, I did not ask that as a “Gotcha” question, but as a genuine inquiry as to the potential response to such a change in tactics.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Roger says:

                Kazzy, not really. Or at least this:

                even if the results of the active courting had no bearing on that segment

                does a lot of heavy lifting. For it to have no bearing on that segment, that would mean that there were no policy changes. I don’t see how you could do that. How you could make any significant inroads with minority communities without re-evaluating positions on affirmative action, gun control, and so on. Even the confederate flag is an issue of sorts that would have a bearing.

                Back in the early last decade, I worked with the local GOP and a part of my area was outreach (that they had a white guy on the suburbs working on this is indicative of the depth of the problem). Fear of losing existing voters – absent policy change proposals – was never mentioned as a concern. Not once.

                The concerns were fallout that actually did result from policy changes (affirmative action was a significant issue at the time), but mostly resource allocation.

                That was a decade ago and I don’t know what has happened between now and then, though I do get the sense that it is not the priority now that it was in the Bush era (and even then, it was logistically limited). My guess is that a decision was made along the way that the votes would be too hard to get – for a variety of reasons – and that there were easier ways to get to (or stay at above) 50+1%.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Roger says:

                Kazzy, I didn’t think it was a gotcha, and I hope Will doesn’t either. Apoligies if I gave an indication in that direction. I think it’s a valid question, one that I was clearly muddling my way thru or I wouldn’t have responded the way I did. And I think it’s especially relevant if we’re going to go with an institutional analysis of why the GOP acts as it does.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Roger says:

                I should clarify something: We did actually reach out to candidates that supported affirmative action. It wasn’t a dealbreaker. (JC Watts supported affirmative action and he was considered a hero, at least where I was.) But that was nonetheless where the contention was: what sacrifices would have to be made. Which may be a distinction without a difference as far as some are concerned, but there was zero element of “OMG they’re trying to recruit the black people” fallout (or concern of that fallout).Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Roger says:


                Thanks for responding. But I’m a bit perplexed. Is it such (or does the GOP believe it is such) that any change to current GOP policies in favor of blacks or other PoCs is inherently going to come to bear negatively on existing supporters?

                Are there no policies that the GOP could adopt or shift towards that would be beneficial to both PoCs AND existing conservatives/Republicans?


                No worries, man. I know that there is a tendency, or at least the perception of a tendency, to gang up on Republicans/conservatives here, and I just wanted Will to know that was never my intention. I didn’t think Will would take it that way, but just wanted to avoid any potential for needless partisan bickering. Cheers, bro.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Roger says:

                “…but there was zero element of “OMG they’re trying to recruit the black people” fallout (or concern of that fallout).”

                This is encouraging/a relief and largely what I was attempting to get at. Thank you.Report

              • Roger in reply to Roger says:

                I think trumwill and Kazzy are hitting on the right issues. I think that once coalitions form, that the agenda that resonates with one team alienates another.

                Affirmative action seems like a no brainier to one coalition, but to the other it is viewed as a lack of principle and/or an assault on lower class whites who are excluded. I think there are a lot of other examples, but I certainly won’t bring up any potential differences between the left and the right on the role of an activist government to fix stuff. Nope. I will definitely not go there.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Roger says:

                Ecch, all this talk about how to attract/repel black people doesn’t make any sense to me. Even if the GOP were suddenly to do an about-face and try to enlist black people, what would they actually say? They’d have to take positions on the issues, issues which wouldn’t exclusively target black people.

                I’m not even sure the issue is racism. It’s a whole world view they’d have to change. They’d have to be for something, not just against everything Obama wants to do. Look at that ninny Paul Ryan, all hat and no horse, or that feeb Bobby Jindal, telling the GOP not to be the Party of Stupid. What does that mean on a positive, do-something basis? They’d have to care about more than tax cuts. They’d have to see the possibilities of government to make beneficial changes to society. That’s beyond them at this point.Report

              • Roger in reply to Roger says:

                “I’m not even sure the issue is racism. It’s a whole world view they’d have to change. They’d have to be for something, not just against everything Obama wants to do…What does that mean on a positive, do-something basis? They’d have to care about more than tax cuts. They’d have to see the possibilities of government to make beneficial changes to society. That’s beyond them at this point.”

                Blaise makes the argument that I have been trying to make for a month now better than I ever could. He is exactly right. There is a difference as wide as the grand canyon on whether government is recognized as the driver of “beneficial changes” in society. Those not of the left do not share this assumption. Their answer is that those on the left need to see the possibilities of free individuals and voluntary associations to make beneficial changes, and that this is beyond the left at this point.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Roger says:

                An interesting anecdote…

                While attending a diversity institute, I became close with a black guy a little older than me who grew up in Baltimore City and worked at an elite independent school in Baltimore County. This guy was a fascinating character on a number of levels. In some ways, he reminds me of Jaybird. He was a comic book nerd and a gamer, actually cutting out early one night to catch the premier of the second Transformers movie.

                He had an interesting life story. He was very religious but had a gay brother who he loved and accepted regardless of his faith’s teachings. He served in the military and then went into teaching middle school. He grew up in a world that he found eerily reminiscent of “The Wire”.

                And he had this to say (circa 2009):
                Black folks *ARE* conservatives. We’re very religious. We’re anti-drug because we see the impacts it has on our community. We’re largely tough on crime because of largely authoritarian family cultures. We tend to be homophobic. We’re not crunchy and we’re certainly not “liberal” in the many ways it means to be culturally liberal nowadays. And, somehow, the Republicans can’t figure this out and we never vote for them. But if they ever do…”

                Now, this was one man’s opinion… but it sure was fascinating…Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Roger says:

                Heh. Trust you to miss the point, Roger. You simply don’t see government as an association of free individuals. That tyranny can come from the private sector as surely as the public sector never seems to come into focus for you. Ride that little tricycle and ring the bell on the handlebars: any progress made toward freedom for individuals, to wit, women, black people, LGBT, Hispanics and such came from Liberal efforts. You goddamn Libertarians were firmly against the government acting against racism and many another evil and thus you remain to this day.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Roger says:

                those on the left need to see the possibilities of free individuals and voluntary associations to make beneficial changes

                You are absolutely right, and I will cease my efforts to prevent them from doing do.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Roger says:

                Kazzy, there’s often not a material cost, but there’s still an ideological one. So in the context comments, I’m counting things like minority set-asides for city and county contracts to having a cost even if most Republicans aren’t contractors seeking government contracts.

                There are some things that the Republicans came out in front of that were of little or no ideological of material cost. They expanded the county’s faith-based initiative to the city, which meant more black churches than white were getting help.

                There was also a really interesting idea an enterprising young city councilman had. He was in real estate and sold a lot of properties in minority parts of town. That introduced him to a lot of local figures and he was in tight with the AA community.

                Anyway, one of the issues that these communities were dealing with was blight. Foreclosed (and some non-foreclosed) homes that had little or no upkeep. That was keeping some neighborhoods down. So he worked with some of the banks, the realtor associations, and the city so that the city would mow the lawns and in some cases give these places paint jobs while the legal mechanics with the banks were being worked out. It was win-win-win all around. It was such a good idea that Democrats immediately signed onto it and it ceased to be a “Republican” idea (until they weren’t, see below). Which is what happened with the faith-based initiative, too. So, in order to have an impact, you have to have something that the Democrats actually oppose. And given the extent to which they are (at least in my city-county) beholden to African-Americans for turnout and such, they are unlikely to oppose.

                (In a kick of irony, the housing thing ended up being portrayed as “racist” anyway, and everybody was running from it except the councilman.)Report

              • Roger in reply to Roger says:

                I got your point. And my comment was not about whether government is an association of free individuals. I believe it can and should be. Of course tyranny and exploitation can come from the private sector too. Again not my point.

                Nor was I suggesting that liberal initiatives never did good things. Nor am I arguing against empowerment of people, which is not the exclusive accomplishment of progressives, but of liberals, including classical liberals aka those you call libertarian.

                In other words, you just tried to divert the subject by throwing out absurd allegations, along with some slurs about my goddamn tricycle. Which is a righteous machine, btw.

                My point was exactly what you said, along with the implicit other side of the coin. Let me dismount my trike and make it clear.

                Those on the left believe more in the power and effectiveness of government solutions than those not on the left. Those not of the left, especially of the classical liberal persuasion, believe more in the power and effectiveness of decentralized individuals. This is a fundamental divide. We operate under very different paradigms not just on what the problems are in society, but in how we should attempt to solve them.

                The weird thing is that anyone even pretends this is a controversial topic.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Roger says:

                Let’s put it this way, Roger: Liberals get to do all the dirty work, raising the stink about racism and sexism and abuses of power. But let us go about using the power of government to make changes to these abuses, lo here come the half-wit mouth breathers to worry about theoretical abuses of power.

                For all this cheap talk about the possibilities of free individuals and voluntary associations to make beneficial changes, let history show the Ku Klux Klan was just such a voluntary association. Every black man, every woman, every gay and lesbian denied a job or denied education or denied a mortgage was denied entry into a voluntary association. They wanted to join, others didn’t think they fit the bill. Screw your voluntary associations: we have hundreds of years of proof of what your free individuals and their voluntary associations were doing.

                I’m sure butter won’t melt in your mouth as you tell me how you decry all such doings. There was great power in the voluntary associations which tolerated injustice and tolerate it still. I’ll go with the rule of law over your pie-eyed notions about Freedom. Freedom just means I can do what I want and nobody can stop me.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Roger says:


                Do you think there might be any policy areas where Reps/cons might actually be better for blacks/PoCs but where branding or perception denies them such credit?

                For instance, I hear some opposition to affirmative action from Rs/Cs that genuinely argue it is ultimately harmful to those it intends to help. Then I hear some opposition to affirmative actions from Rs/Cs that is largely predicated on white victimhood and “special status” and “reverse racism”. I think both are real strains of R/C opposition to AA, long with probably some others. But for whatever reason, the latter is the one you most often hear about, and is what you most often associate with R/C. Supposing the former are actually correct (an argument I won’t necessarily concede but won’t insist is impossible), what can those Rs/Cs do to rebrand their position, even if some opposition is still predicated on the stance of the latter?Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Roger says:

                Or, to ask better, it is often said that certain segments of the population vote against their own best interests, usually focusing on economics. Do you think that blacks and other PoCs could potentially be voting against THEIR own best interests (whether or not those interests are related to or impacted by their race) by voting Democratic? SHOULD blacks be voting for Republicans?Report

              • Roger in reply to Roger says:


                You are just trying a diversion. A cheap magicians trick.

                You made your initial point and I agreed, vehemently. No need to kick up a dust storm around gay klansmen with bad credit or whatever you are going on about.Report

              • Roger in reply to Roger says:


                They have indeed been voting against their long term interest. Unless they were writing in “neither of the above.”Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Roger says:

                Come’on, Rog. You know what I mean. Would blacks be better off voting for Republicans than Democrats? I’m entirely open to the possibility that they, or some segment of them larger than the 5-10% that actually do) might be. And if that is the case, I think that would be a really interesting thing to look at as to how and why that happens, and what the GOP can do about it.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Roger says:

                Voluntary associations being what they are, choosing is a two way street. In your shiny, happy world, people are never denied access to equal rights and every effort to make a place at the table for others is a bad idea, especially if it’s enforced.

                So let’s all go back to Roger World, where no bothersome bureaucrats are around to make places at those tables. Must be nice, to think anyone who really wanted could sit anywhere they wanted. Can’t deny it would be a great world to live in.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Roger says:


                On your first question, the two arguments are typically made from different groups. The argument that AA actually disadvantages black people is typically made more in the academic and think-tanky world. The other argument is made more amongst politicians. It’s hard for the latter group to make the former argument because – for better and worse – it runs against the American way of thinking (the “boundless optimism”). Nobody wants to hear “If you go to this great college, you’re more likely to flunk out.”

                It’s also not what rank-and-file opponents of affirmative action are concerned about, to be honest. They simply believe it isn’t fair to those that are not granted (what is seen as) preferential access. So I don’t expect that argument to change any time soon. (Though affirmative action is much less an issue than it used to be. A rare case where the GOP has the more popular view, but have given up on legislative action.)

                On the broader question, I find it very unlikely that it’s in the self-interest of African-Americans to vote for the Democrats in the numbers that they do. (The same applies for large numbers of white voters, and elsewhere – it’s not a unique feature among black people) But that’s just not how people work. I think it’s very, very difficult to pry people away from group dynamics.

                Honestly, and this is where it gets really difficult, but I think something needs to happen on a cultural level. The group of Hispanics most likely to vote Republican are… protestants. I think I’ve read that African-American Catholics are disproportionately likely to vote Republican. In other words, group dynamics start to change when people pray together at the same church. When self-identification starts shifting away from certain racial and cultural markers towards different cultural markers.

                To the extent that it is ever changed, I believe it will be changed from outside political party mechanisms. I’m not going to hold my breath.

                (I’m sorry if I am evading a more direct answer to your question. A white guy talking about what he thinks is best for the African-American community as a whole and the ensuing conversation is not one I am anxious to enter right now and in this environment. Suffice it to say, there are at least Republican policies that I believe would benefit all Americans over the long run, including African-Americans who would oppose them. But I respect how they would see it differently.)Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Roger says:

                No need to apologize for your answers, Will. Not only do I find it refreshing that you are willing and able to recognize the trickiness of a white guy speaking on behalf of black folk (and a CONSERVATIVEish white guy, no less!), but I find your answers thoroughly sufficient and appropriate. This has been a really helpful exchange and I appreciate you indulging me, serving as my window into conservative/Republican America.

                I think your point about specific cultural/identity identifiers is spot on. For instance, if blacks in Wyoming (are there black folks in Wyoming???) were to view themselves as Wyomans first and blacks second and viewed the issues facing Wyomans as more pressing than those facing blacks, I imagine their R/D voting patterns to be different than they might currently be. Regardless, I wouldn’t fault them for whatever pattern they do prefer, because identity AND voting are both really complicated matters which I don’t feel right to judge anyone on. See the exchange I had with Murali and MA elsewhere on the “competency” of certain groups of voters. I’m not one for the “What’s the Matter with Kansas” theory… folks will and should be able to vote in whatever manner they wish without criticism.


              • greginak in reply to Roger says:

                Regarding Affirmative Action one real oddity of the discussion is that it is solely focused on blacks. But one really big group also benefited from AA; women.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Roger says:

                Greg, the odder thing still is that one of the major (I would argue the major current beneficiaries of affirmative action in college admissions is men.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Roger says:

                Kazzy, I do appreciate a chance to ramble on with people who are asking with a question mark rather than an explanation point.Report

              • M.A. in reply to Roger says:

                Will Truman,

                I think one of your comments made the entire point of what the GOP do wrong (aside from harboring many, many more racists and racist sentiments than you’re apparently willing to admit despite the mounting and repeated evidence, including statements by rather highly placed GOP officials).

                The GOP comes in making the “long view” argument. They claim that 50 years from now, Affirmative Action (or some of the other social welfare and financial aid programs) will have some theoretical negative effect.

                The problem is that right now, blacks are disadvantaged. There still is institutional racism. There still are racist police, especially once you get to smaller towns in the less populated areas of the country like Wyoming or eastern Texas or anywhere in Oklahoma. There still are all the things I mentioned over here.

                In many ways I see the conservative rhetoric on affirmative action just as tone-deaf as the conservative rhetoric when it comes to unfair abuses by employers like Wal-Mart. The conservative rhetoric, epitomized yesterday by that “preacher to the upper middle class” Dave Ramsey, was that “if you think your employer is abusing you, stop working for them.”

                I’ve heard the same sort of rhetoric from libertarians often. The idea that if someone accepts an unfair, abusive or exploitative bargain, they are complicit in it and deserve no sympathy or right to declare a grievance.

                Yet the same sort of institutional forces are at work here. Many, many blacks are trapped in cycles of poverty. This is not “welfare holding them back”, another conservative trope that has no basis in reality; this is things like trying to take care of kids as a single mother, things like trying to get a job on low education (because they dropped out of school to raise kids) or with a felony on their record.

                The GOP comes in talking about how they are “color blind”, how affirmative action supposedly needs to be done away with because otherwise employers will think the black kids had an unfair advantage and aren’t as good as white kids. That’s talking a long way in the future. In the here and now, the black kids are trapped going to public schools that the GOP politicians have treated like garbage, have denied funding and resources to. They’re not stupid, they can see all the advantages that the mostly-white suburbs grant to the mostly-white kids, things that their kids could only dream of getting in school.

                This is just like the tone-deafness of the GOP talking about cutting welfare rolls, or killing off other social welfare programs because it will “eventually” cause some sort of nebulous problem that will cause taxes to rise from the lowest point they’ve been in a century (which the GOP still consider too high) and how a black mother raising 3 kids needs to “have some skin in the game.” Her response is simple. “I’m raising 3 kids, working 2 jobs, I have plenty of skin in the game. What I need is a bit of help to make sure my kids don’t go hungry tonight.”

                The GOP doesn’t reach out to black communities because they don’t want to. They don’t listen to blacks because they don’t want to. When they DO come in to talk to blacks, it’s the same sort of tone-deaf nonsense that ignores reality as it is right now.

                Like you said:
                A white guy talking about what he thinks is best for the African-American community as a whole and the ensuing conversation is not one I am anxious to enter right now and in this environment.

                The problem is not that you don’t want to walk in and say what you think is best for the African-American community as a whole: the problem is you (the GOP at large) refuse to listen to what the black community as a whole is saying.

                The GOP doesn’t want to listen to blacks, they prefer to have blacks go away. When a few blacks come over to their side, they inevitably get trotted out to the exact same sort of tokenism and then carefully shepherded into irrelevance, because they might (like Colin Powell and J.C. Watts both did) point out things like the fact that Romney not only had zero racial diversity in his campaign, but actively ran off gays.

                The GOP policy regarding black republicans isn’t hard to understand. It’s kind of like the old idea regarding children, that they should be seen but not heard. Keep them public, visible for the “hey we’re not racist, see we have Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice” while trying to make sure they don’t say anything about the Klan-robed elephant hiding under the party tent.Report

              • trumwill mobile in reply to Roger says:

                MA, neither I nor the GOP is under any obligation to agree with what black people think about affirmative action. Nor are we obliged to agree with your (ahem, present) views in order to have a socially acceptable outlook.

                I disagree with affirmative action on the basis of race because I have determined, after having supported it for many years, that that I simply can’t justify it anymore and would prefer it be approached, if it is approached, by looking at other factors.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Roger says:

                @trumwill: what other factors would you use, given the problem only manifested in racist terms?Report

              • M.A. in reply to Roger says:

                The GOP does have an obligation to:

                Listen openly and fairly to the black community on the topic.
                Discuss honestly what the GOP would see as fair measures to attempt to remedy the issues still facing the black community at large.
                Acknowlege that the GOP has done an amazingly piss-poor and tone-deaf job of relating to and communicating with the black community in the past, apologize, and more to the point mean it when they apologize.

                They also have a real responsibility to start policing the worst of their own and kicking not a few of them out of the tent, rather than trying to say “it’s not really that bad.”

                Now, this obligation only exists if the GOP are serious about treating blacks with respect. Given the number of times I’ve seen GOP members speak very similarly to the sentiments you’ve espoused, I don’t think the GOP is serious about treating blacks with respect at all.

                This is especially true when the GOP have been so tone-deaf as to miss the obvious:

                When I was a Rand-toting libertarian lad, I believed, as I believe now, that racism of any stripe is a disgusting form of collectivism. Where my opinion has changed is that I used to think that if negative rights to non-interference were strictly observed, liberty was guaranteed, but I don’t now. Here’s how I had thought about the matter. One racist acting in a private capacity on his or her racist beliefs can’t violate anyone’s legitimate, negative rights. (No one is entitled to another’s good opinion!) Two racists acting as private citizens on their racist beliefs can’t violate anyone’s rights. Therefore, I inferred, thousands or millions of racists acting non-coercively on their racist beliefs can’t coercively violate anyone’s rights. I now think this is quite wrongheaded.

                Eventually I realised that actions that are individually non-coercive can add up to stable patterns of behaviour that are systematically or structurally coercive, depriving some individuals of their rightful liberty. In fact, rights-violating structures or patterns of behaviour are excellent examples of Hayekian spontaneous orders—of phenomena that are the product of human action, but not of human design.

                So when the GOP trots out old racist Ron Paul, who with his son sagely nods and says that the Civil Rights Act was bad because it “infringed on the liberties” of the Southern States and Southern Racists, and the rest of the GOP nods and says “well he’s right” th same as the libertarians do… what the fish are African-Americans supposed to think the GOP means when they come round playing the once-a-decade “well I guess we have to kinda sorta tokenly reach out to blacks” game?Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Roger says:

                For instance, I hear some opposition to affirmative action from Rs/Cs that genuinely argue it is ultimately harmful to those it intends to help.

                And this rings oh so true from the likes of George W. Bush, Bill Kristol, and John Podhoretz.Report

              • trumwill mobile in reply to Roger says:

                My main thing was that you seemed to equate disagreeing with black people on affirmative action as some moral or racist failure or a failure to listen. I disagree. I disagree with other things you say, but I am not going to try to disabuse you of your notions of who your enemy really is. (Which is not to say that your enemy doesn’t have problems, but it’s not worth discussingwith you at the present time.)Report

              • Roger in reply to Roger says:


                In my attempt at being both funny and profound, I accomplished neither.

                I certainly believe that the agenda of the left has contributed to the impoverishment of generations of Minorities and poor. Progressives have promoted bad culture and dependency. The left pandered to what those with lower incomes wanted, not what they needed.

                However, if minorities had gone to the GOP, the same dynamic would probably have played out. Politicians who could pander would have risen to the top and the same dynamic may have played out with different coalitions.

                In other words, the same political power which was used to deliver equal opportunity was immediately hijacked to provide and incentivize economic dependency. Left or right is just a historical accident.Report

  13. Morat20 says:

    The GOP isn’t racist. They just want racists to vote for them. *shrug*.

    Symbolic gestures after 40 years of race-baiting to go after the racist vote just doesn’t go away because it stops being politically convienent.

    You can’t pivot or message your way around 40 years of the Southern Strategy. The Democratic party underwent a civil war and tossed away a chunk of the nation for generations — they paid to shed themselves of their racist legacy.

    The GOP seems to think “hey, look, there’s a black guy on stage!” somehow erases “young bucks” and “welfare queens”.

    Worse yet — for the GOP — their sudden deep and abiding concern over voter fraud seems to, coicindentally, seem to come up only in the context of heavily black or minority districts.

    In the end, it comes down to “Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas”. The GOP might not have a choice — after 40 years, blacks don’t trust them and won’t until they show they’re serious. (And increasingly latinos). Without minorities, they need a huge % of the white turnout — especially in the South — which means they need racists.

    So they’re stuck in a box. Ditch the racists and lose. Keep the racists and win..sometimes. For a little while longer.Report

  14. NewDealer says:

    Good post.

    I think you are correct that there is nothing inherently contradictory about being a conservative and being a member of a minority whether African-American, Asian, Latino, Gay, Jewish, etc.

    However, there does often seem to be something inherently contradictory about being a minority and being a Republican. At least to me with their current politics and everything you mentioned.

    I don’t see the race-baiting you mentioned as being unintentional in the last paragraph. I think it is inherently intentional. This is part and parcel of the Southern Strat.

    Not all Republicans are racist. Many or most might not be. However, there are still a lot of John Derbyshires and other unreconstructed racists in the Republican Party. You still have plenty of people (often in the Republican Party) and often paleo-cons who are trying to prove the links between race and intelligence. Specifically that Blacks and Latinos are less intelligent than Whites, Jews, and Asians. People like Steve Sailer and the rest of the crowd. in some areas is the base of the Republican Party.

    The Republican Party is going to require a lot of policy changes before they win in cities. Right now, we feel like a right off. It seems like they cower and fear cities as being decadent realms of cool people. I think there are a lot of reasons why city dwellers tend liberal. We live in dense circumstances and see the need for public goods on a daily basis. Most of us use said goods on a daily basis as well. The NYC subway and SF transporation are very diverse socio economicaly.Report

  15. Rufus F. says:

    After a quick read, I’d agree with the things you say here. I might also add that a lot of whites really, really dislike affirmative action policies and Republicans have consistently spoken for that dislike, which might come across differently to African Americans, although I’m not familiar with how the issue polls in the black community.Report

    • M.A. in reply to Rufus F. says:

      In the black community, affirmative action policies are seen as still definitely needed.

      This is because of the nepotism aspect and decades of the invisible backpack. Elias’s post about supposed meritocracy gets to some of it.

      Blacks are more likely to come from broken families or poorer families.
      They’re far more likely, if in college, to be the first of their family to go to college.
      They’re far more likely to face onerous student loan debt (no International Bank Of Mom And Dad to rely on for college tuition or housing).
      They’re far more likely to have come from a public school starved for resources by Republican administrations and impeded by massive amounts of forcible high-stakes testing that does nothing to teach real learning skills.
      They’re more likely to be impacted by gang crime or other risks of violence in their neighborhood and school, which holds back educational progress.
      They’re more likely to be undernourished during childhood.

      They’re more likely to see their parents frustrated and tired each night, crying about how to make ends meet. Even more so with single-mother households, which are far overrepresented in the black community (see previous re: broken homes and families).

      All of this is systemic. Much of it comes from the longstanding effects of racism in society.

      Conservatives come in talking about the Martin Luther King speech every once in a while. Great goal, but we’re not there yet – and it’s hard to be there when so much of a community trying to run the 100 meter race is told that they have a second starting gun that goes off 15 seconds after everyone else’s does.

      Libertarians like to talk the same way about both economic disparity and racial disparities, many of which are tied together. They like to think they sound colorblind, and to their own ears they do. What they really come off as, though, is completely tone deaf.

      You walk into a community saying “yay everyone’s equal, nobody’s being judged by the color of their skin.” The black community looks at the condition of their surroundings, of their families, of the young blacks disproportionately affected by gang crime, drug crime and imprisonment (many given far longer sentences than whites who commit similar crimes). The black community looks at the poverty rampant in so much of it, at the hopelessness felt by a young single black mother raising the kid of a boyfriend sent off to jail who’s told she is a “leech” and that the government benefits that are the difference between her kid eating dinner and not eating dinner have to be cut because Rick Santorum says “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money” or because taxes-wise the racist radio hosts all say she “needs to have some skin in the game.”

      How do you think this is going to poll for most of the black community? Tone-deaf republicans and libertarians who’ve never talked to a single black person, who’ve especially never talked to blacks who are in black communities hit hardest by the worst behavior of those same republicans, libertarians, “conservatives” for decades and longer, come in saying how things will be so much better if we just get rid of the things that might give their kids a hand up.

      I don’t think it takes much imagination to understand why the response of black parents, black families, the black community, is to say “SCREW THAT, we still need the help to get out of the hole you shoved us into.”Report

  16. NewDealer says:

    Upon reading the comments in the first link, I am further convinced that liberals and conservatives inhabit two separate realities that happen to exist in the same material world.Report

  17. Peter says:

    Just as Republicans have written off attracting black voters as a hopeless quest, Democrats have written off attracting Christian voters as a hopeless quest.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Peter says:

      That’s not really true. If Democrats didn’t get Christian voters, they’d never win. They have recently started moving towards righting off a certain segment of Christian voter (Obama turning down Warren’s invite being an example), though under the circumstances that seems politically prudent.Report

    • greginak in reply to Peter says:

      Can’t tell if you are being snarky Peter. This is completely untrue unless you define Christian as, well, right wing evangelical, conservative Christian. Most people in this country are Christian. You can’t win the presidency without having plenty of Christians vote for you.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to greginak says:

        It has been my discovery that many right-wing Evangelicals do define Christian as explicitly that. They write off Catholics, Mainline Protestants, Unitarians (this one is tricky but I consider it a form of Christianity), Orthodox Christians, Coptics, etc.

        My Jesuit law school (though the last two deans were Jewish and so is much of the professoriat) once did a symposium on Ciitzens United and invited one of the counsel who worked for the plaintiffs to speak. He came very close to calling us all a bunch of “damn Papists”Report

        • greginak in reply to NewDealer says:

          ND- Oh i know many right wing evangelical Christians think they are the only true Christians. But if someone wants to make the point Peter is making then he should also, if he chooses, make the belief that many Christians just aren’t good enough explicit.Report

          • NewDealer in reply to greginak says:

            The issue seems to be that they think saying “I’m a Christian” is explicit enough. If a person says I’m a Christian” and attends a Quaker meeting house, the right-wing Evangelical would probably say no go.Report

          • Will Truman in reply to greginak says:

            FWIW, Peter is a longtime commenter of Hit Coffee and has never indicated a strong belief in fundamentalist or evangelical Christianity (I have other commenters who do). So I don’t think that’s where he is coming from.Report

      • Peter in reply to greginak says:

        Yes, I’m using Christian in the fundamentalist sense, not the Catholic + Protestant + Orthodox sense. In recent times the fundamentalists seem to have appropriated the term for themselves.Report

        • NewDealer in reply to Peter says:

          I don’t see why they should be allowed to do that.Report

          • Mike Schilling in reply to NewDealer says:

            I had this conversation with the woman who cleans my house:

            “My fiance is a wonderful man. He’s a Christian, though I’m not.”

            “Oh, I thought you might be a Catholic.” (She’s Latina.)

            “I am.”

            “Aren’t Catholics Christians?”

            “Oh, yes, I guess we are.”Report

            • NewDealer in reply to Mike Schilling says:

              Interesting though I generally concur. Most people I know who are Catholic will say that. Most of the Mainline Protestants will say what they are as well. “I’m Episcopalian”, “I’m Quaker”, “I’m Unitarian”, etc. Same with people I know who are Orthodox.Report

    • Morat20 in reply to Peter says:

      Except all the Christians that vote for them.

      Didn’t they win something like half of Catholics last election?

      Also, I guess there are no black Christians either.Report

  18. PPNL says:

    A black man voting republican is cool. But voting for Romney is a problem and not because of his stance on any issue. Romney is a born follower not a leader. Who knows he may have been a better president than Obama. That’s a low bar. The problem is it would be a disaster for the republican party. The last time republicans elected a pandering dweeb president the party went from controlling the house, senate and the presidency to losing all three and worse lost all intellectual and moral authority.

    Republicans could have elected Edward Kennedy president in 2000 and both the nation and the republican party would be in better shape.

    Republicans aren’t necessarily racist any more than Christians are necessarily ignorant and stupid deniers of evolution, cosmology and geology. But if Christians turn a blind eye to the ignorant and stupid then they do have some moral responsibility for it and deserve to be called on it. There is a component of racism in rank and file republicans. If the republican party not only ignores it but actively attempts to profit from it then they have some moral responsibility for it. The southern strategy means republicans deserve all the crap over racism they get.Report

  19. Tod Kelly says:

    An excellent, excellent post. I wanted to offer a “white perspective” on this point:

    “Fourth, while Rod is correct that African Americans won’t ever become a major part of the GOP coalition that’s not an excuse to just not bother with outreach. ”

    This is so very true, but not just for the goodwill that it might engender with African Americans. At the risk of sounding cynical (I’m really not right now), there are a hell of a lot of caucasians that notice the lack of Republican attempts to reach out to the African American community (and let’s face it, other minority communities as well). This sends a message that makes quite a lot of us uncomfortable with them taking power.

    Most Americans don’t really see the difference between a 37% and a 39% tax rate as being the dividing line between freedom and despotism, and so with moderates and independents that kind of GOP message tends to lose the urgency it’s supposed to carry. However, racism/sexism/homophobia – whether real or perceived (and so very much of it is perceived) – shows up vey large on moderates’ and independents’ radar. When I see Daily Caller-Chuck E. Cheese types of stories float to the surface of the right’s media, I wonder if they can’t see that they aren’t simply losing future black votes, they’re losing a hell of a lot of future white votes as well.Report

    • Morat20 in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      You’ve got that right. And if you think about it, the only group that catches as much mockery as black Republicans are log-cabin Republicans.

      And given the GOP’s problems with the young (which, thinking about it, have a mirror in what I’ve been reading about more evangelical church’s problems with the young), that’s not a small deal.

      There are undoubtably plenty of 18 to 30ish voters who might be receptive to some of the GOP’s message, but not so long as they think they’re being medieval on race or sexual orientation.Report

  20. DRS says:

    Well, I read your post and I’m not sure what you’re saying that hasn’t been said by other writers on other sites (professional media and nonprofessional blogs) for a few years at least.
    Blacks and Republicans should talk more and respect each others’ views. Okay. How? And perhaps just as importantly – why?

    If a political party wants people to vote for its candidates, then it will come up with ways to appeal to those voters. The GOP just doesn’t want these particular voters enough – yet. When it loses a few more elections, then maybe it will get humble enough to come up with strategies to appeal to non-traditional voters.

    Are Republicans racist when it comes to blacks? Is that their default setting? No, they’re not racist – but they are contemptuous of blacks. Blacks, in their opinions (tweeted and re-tweeted continuously in a never-ending circle of sites), don’t want to work, like to have unmarried and continuous sex, are all on welfare, depend on affirmative action for everything and etc. etc. etc. Blacks apparently embody everything in modern American society that is bad or scary or anti-social. There are apparently no middle-class blacks anywhere in the US – or if they do exist, they got their positions though racial preferences and are consumed with insecurity because they don’t feel they deserve their success.

    Blacks aren’t looking for Republican votes. Republicans are looking for as many votes as they can get. It seems to me that the onus is on the GOP to start bridging the divide, regardless of whose fault it is that it exists in the first place.Report

    • Morat20 in reply to DRS says:

      I’m not sure how that isn’t racist. You just described Republicans as having a negative stereotype of black people.

      I mean, sure, they’re not burning crosses on lawns but how is it NOT racist to think “Black people are lazy moochers”? Stereotyping an entire group — negatively — by skin color alone is racism.

      It’s like, you know, kinda the definition.Report

      • DRS in reply to Morat20 says:

        Well, I wouldn’t disagree with you as a technical issue, but since Republicans don’t think of themselves as racist and will shut down any dialogue before it begins if they think you’re going to accuse them of it, then it makes sense to lift the label and identify what’s underneath. It makes it harder for them to avoid the discussion. And I thought that was the point of this whole thread.Report

        • Roger in reply to DRS says:

          Yeah, I’d pretty much call that racist.

          Again though, I would recommend reading the research on racism by party. Racism is primarily a factor of low education, not party affiliation. Poorly educated people of the left are prone to racism too.Report

          • PPNL in reply to Roger says:

            Yes, exactly. But here is the thing. If the republican party seeks to gain power by exploiting racism it makes no difference if the leaders of the party are themselves racist. The party itself still is.

            The southern strategy was republicans catering to low education democrats who were driven by racial issues. As a result the republican party, the party founded to fight slavery, was possessed by the ghost of the old confederacy. The south rose again in the very body that defeated them in battle.Report

            • M.A. in reply to PPNL says:

              Which is what makes the irony of GOP partisans shouting “we are the party of lincoln, the democrats were the racists back in the 60s” so strong.

              The Democrats were, once upon a time, the part that held the South. They abandoned the South, and the racism inherent therein. Lyndon Johnson was being far too optimistic when he predicted that the passage and signing of civil rights legislation would only cost the Democrats the South for a generation; it’s now been 3 or perhaps 4 and the GOP have held the old Solid Racist South since the first election thereafter, the moment when Nixon and Atwater led the GOP down the road to selling their souls.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to DRS says:

      Are Republicans racist when it comes to blacks? Is that their default setting? No, they’re not racist – but they are contemptuous of blacks. Blacks, in their opinions (tweeted and re-tweeted continuously in a never-ending circle of sites), don’t want to work, like to have unmarried and continuous sex, are all on welfare, depend on affirmative action for everything and etc. etc. etc. Blacks apparently embody everything in modern American society that is bad or scary or anti-social. There are apparently no middle-class blacks anywhere in the US – or if they do exist, they got their positions though racial preferences and are consumed with insecurity because they don’t feel they deserve their success.

      I call BS on this. Sure, there are rank-and-file Republicans who believe this, just as there are rank-and-file Democrats who have profoundly ignorant and bigoted views of those who are more economically successful than they are. Neither party has a monopoly on stupid people (though my analysis of NLSY . But it’s not in any meaningful sense a fair characterization of the views of the party as a whole, or of the typical Republican.Report

      • M.A. in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        And I completely disagree.

        The views of the party as a whole reflect the views of the rank and file. Now, more than before, due to the hyper-partisan and hyper-“idealism” brought by the polarizing factors of gerrymandering, constant threats of primary challenges, and the forces of the media bubbles the GOP and conservative “movement” have worked very hard to erect.

        When Newt Gingrich comes out and says blacks don’t want to work and don’t want to learn work ethic, he may or not believe it, but he is saying something he thinks the rank and file believe and he is explicitly playing for the votes of those who hold racist views. Same for Santorum, for Romney, for pretty much their entire last crop of Presidential candidates.Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to M.A. says:

          When Newt Gingrich comes out and says blacks don’t want to work and don’t want to learn work ethic

          This is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about when I said that you have a history of grossly misrepresenting things that other people say. That never happened. Yes, I know exactly what you’re referring to, and this is a gross misrepresentation.Report

          • DRS in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            Brandon, you’re the one “grossly misrepresenting” what Gingrich and others said. We’re never going to get anywhere in this dialogue if you don’t stop lying to yourself.Report

            • M.A. in reply to DRS says:

              He can lie to himself all he wants.

              It’s when he lies about others, and lies about what others say, that I see a problem developing. And he’s just done so in claiming I have “a history of grossly misrepresenting things that other people say.”

              “In general, a comment will be deemed inappropriate if it makes no attempt to address a point germane to the original post or another comment and instead contains nothing more than a blanket personal attack directed at the author or another commenter…”

              Brandon’s just lied about my history and did so in the process of making a completely unwarranted attack upon me directly.Report

              • M.A. in reply to M.A. says:

                Right here is what Gingrich said. It is both offensive and racist.

                And Gingrich was applauded by the rank and file.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to M.A. says:

                Actually, he said black people should demand jobs not food stamps, and poor people lack a work ethic. You and I may well interpret that as ” blacks don’t want to work and don’t want to learn work ethic,” but until he says those words we are just interpreting.

                And while I agree with you that I believe that was exactly the message Gingrich was trying to send, M.A., you’re running out of warnings: stop calling people that disagree with you liars. Most of what you contribute in the comments (and IMHO, 100% of what you contribute in your guest posts) adds to the quality of this site. But not enough that we’re going to allow the comments section of the League to become an Examiner-like flame war vehicle.

                So really, knock it off.Report

              • DRS in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Excuse me, but to be strictly accurate I’m the one who called BB a liar.Report

              • M.A. in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                BB called me a liar, Tod. I’m not going to put up with that and I do not believe I should have to.

                You ignored Wardsmith and now you’re defending BB. He called me a liar, and you’re coming down on me instead. Those two apparently have privilege to twist and rewrite quotations, to make all sorts of nasty insults and lies, and to never be called on it.

                If that’s how it’s going to be, just say it now and I’m gone.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to M.A. says:

                I’m not defending anyone, and I’m not seeing wordsmith anywhere in this thread; if he crossed lines elsewhere, I have yet to come across it.
                And if BB called you a liar in this thread, I’m not seeing it. (I don’t actually read every single comment on the site, or even most.)

                I’m simply telling you that you need to understand the difference between saying another commenter is wrong, skewed, incorrect, biased, overreaching, misrepresenting, etc., and calling them a liar. All of the former can assume good faith; the latter pretty much shatters any attempt at it. And “good faith” is what we’re trying to foster here – we’re making a pretty conscious effort to be more upfront about that these days.

                I had hoped that since I am agreeing with the point you’re trying to make you’d see that this isn’t about “sides” so much as discourse.

                Shorter me: I really don’t want you gone, you contribute too much good. I’m ask you to not reach for the napalm so quickly.Report

              • M.A. in reply to M.A. says:


                That whole thing. Not one of you would stand up to say that Wardsmith throwing around “asshole”, insults such as “Unlike you, I have a real life and a real profession” followed by “I’ll wait while you pull that next espresso”, or calling me mentally damaged was crossing the line.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to M.A. says:

                Ah, I had indeed not seen that. I’ll say this here and I’ll copy it over on that thread:

                ward – M.A. is correct in calling you out on that thread. Pretty much everything there was way beyond the commenting policy. I need to ask you to refrain from doing stuff like this in the future. I’m asuming you know exactly where you overstepped, but if you need clarification let me know.

                I’d have noted this earlier, but hadn’t seen the thread until now.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to M.A. says:

                And apologies to you, M.A., that I had not seen this earlier.Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to M.A. says:

                Brandon’s just lied about my history….

                Here is what I believe is your first guest post here. See comment 11 on that thread, where I showed that the claims that formed the heart of your post were completely false, and also pointed out that I had explained this to you earlier when you had made the same claim in a comment.

                See also comments 13 and 14, wherein you claimed that Rector was objecting to a new poverty measure on the grounds that it indexed the poverty threshold to CPI, when in fact he was objecting to it because it indexed the poverty threshold to the median income.

                Here you back up your claim that the average work week is 55(!) hours with a web page that says nothing of the sort.

                And, of course, your oft-repeated claim that I called you an anti-semite.

                I’m not saying that you were lying, necessarily. But your inability to correctly interpret the words of others has essentially the same effect: Your attempts to summarize the things other people have said or written frequently result in gross misrepresentation.

                I apologize for the lack of more recent examples, but having read enough of your comments to get a good sense of what you’re about, I rarely bother anymore.Report

          • Roger in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            I just watched the video and side firmly with Brandon.

            Newt is stressing the importance of jobs to develop skills. This of course applies to all poor kids.

            I am no fan of Newt, but jobs are exactly what we need for the poor.

            The commentator is just one of those liberal versions of Limbaugh, brainwashing the more impressionable sheep.Report

            • Tod Kelly in reply to Roger says:

              Despite my not liking the way M.A. communicated his stance, I have to say that I think he’s correct.

              I agree that you can take what Newt said and attach no dog whistle to it, but I think it requires to great of a stretch. FWIW, my argument at the time (as well as now) about the comments is here:


              • Roger in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Thanks for the link and the discussion, Tod.Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                The video that you link to in the post has Gingrich saying that he doesn’t know of any community where people would prefer food stamps to paychecks. In context, it’s pretty clear that what he means is that Obama promised jobs but only delivered food stamps, and that the black community should hold him accountable for that.

                Given that he explicitly said the exact opposite in the first half of that clip—that no community anywhere in America prefers food stamps—it’s a pretty big stretch to say that he must have meant in the second half that blacks prefer food stamps.Report

            • Rod Engelsman in reply to Roger says:

              I am no fan of Newt, but jobs are exactly what we need for the poor.

              Really? That’s not what you were saying the last time we discussed trade policy and out-sourcing to third-world sweatshops. In fact I remember you being quite dismissive of any concerns over jobs and insisting that the only thing that mattered was “productivity”.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Rod Engelsman says:

                In Rogerworld, the shortages are divided among the peasants.Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to Rod Engelsman says:

                Are the workers in third-world “sweatshops” not poor?Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                Or do we just not care about them because they’re foreigners?

                Wait…no. That can’t be right. Europe is actually the primary destination for outsourcing from the US, and I never hear people complaining about that.

                It can’t be because they’re Asian, though. Racism is something Republicans do.Report

              • DRS in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                Racism is something Republicans do.

                You’re making progress. Very good. Keep it up.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                Brandon, I’ll give you an 8 for effort and a 10 on style points. But unfrotunately a 0 on execution. Liberals generally oppose outsourcing. Liberals generally oppose sweatshops. So saying liberals are racists because they only oppose sweatshop-sourcing is incorrect.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                Brandon, if the world were properly organised, there’d be no excuse for grinding poverty anywhere. If the capitalist proposition is the only route to meaningful progress in the world, (and I firmly believe this is true), why isn’t the whole world reasonably prosperous?

                The people of the Third World could be doing all sorts of interesting, useful things. They’re not stupid, I think we’d all agree. If they’re amenable to working for low wages in a world where things are cheap, why would Liberals and trade unions have any problem with this? Do you think we’re stupid or something, that we can’t see how the prosperity of other nations would only increase our own export markets for goods and services? Do you think we’re not capitalists?

                Let me disabuse you of two lies you’ve been told over time. Liberals are capitalists, every bit as interested in profit and private ownership as anyone else. More so, in fact, because we know why capitalism gets twisted around the axle and grinds to a halt in fugged-up countries. Two reasons: those countries are run by crooks and the people aren’t educated.

                Democracy and free enterprise always arise where the people don’t suffer under despots and ignorance. Granted, it often takes very different forms, but once it takes root, it’s awfully hard to stamp out.

                Here’s the second lie you might have been told: Liberals aren’t interested in anything but handouts for poor people and thus keeping them in the grinding trap of poverty. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In a world where the working man had some say-so, he’d be able to negotiate a living wage for himself on the basis of the value he added to a given proposition. It may well be that for the poor to rise in the world, the rich may have to become astronomically wealthy.

                Can you imagine the consequences of every human being with at least the purchasing power of the lowest-paid American worker? That’s well within the realm of possibility, if even a moderate fraction of corporate profits flowed down to the workers. It would be a goddamn capitalist paradise. Trade would flourish, national debts would be repaid, the world would be closely bound by networks of trade and information. Wars would be considered counterproductive to trade: the corporations would be so powerful they’d take these countries by the scruff of the neck and shake them until these seedy little politicians saw double.

                Look at the USA and China: democracy is coming to China, slowly but surely. Slow as it is, and fraught with peril, we haven’t gone to war with China because our trade networks wouldn’t allow it.Report

              • BlaiseP: If they’re amenable to working for low wages in a world where things are cheap, why would Liberals and trade unions have any problem with this? Do you think we’re stupid or something, that we can’t see how the prosperity of other nations would only increase our own export markets for goods and services?

                Stillwater: Liberals generally oppose outsourcing.

                Neither of these are wrong, exactly, as it depends on which liberals you are talking to. Or which conservatives. This is one of those issues that doesn’t generally cut down party lines. If anything, it cuts across up and down. Which is to say, the high leaders of the parties are far more supportive and the rank-and-file skeptical of the trade that results in outsourcing. At least, that’s my experience.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Will Truman says:

                Liberals don’t like to see little kids chained to looms. Look, here’s what Liberals do in the Third World, absolute facts here: consider the market in high end coffee. All those do-gooders went down to Central America and East Africa and Jamaica and started up these little cooperatives. Now the high-end coffee market works exactly like the high-end wine market, everyone knows about the varieties of Guatemalan highland coffee as surely as wine connoisseurs know the domaines of Burgundy or the hillsides of Sonoma.

                But there are countries where coffee markets haven’t been similarly influenced. Ethiopia is one. Arguably the best coffee in the world, certainly the origin of commercial coffee (some say Yemen ) but it’s all priced by the government and the market is completely screwed up. Lots of corruption. I had a look at that situation and backed away from it. If the Liberal Do-Gooders were let in there, they’d have that market straightened right out and pronto.

                When outsourcing means abusive exploitation, Liberals are against it. But when it comes to making markets work in the hinterlands, nobody does it better than Liberals, capitalist Liberals that is. The feebs and the grifters are out there with glossy pamphlets featuring starving kids with snotty noses, any donations to them will end up paying for first-class tickets to Snottynosistan and drinks in the Snotville Hilton and will not end up wiping any noses. The last thing the poor need or want is our pity. It’s all quite contemptible.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

                Either disregard that garbled sentence or, you know, charitably interpret to make the rest of my argument coherent.Report

              • Roger in reply to Rod Engelsman says:

                Rod and Blaise,

                Good question.

                If a job can be done productively, that is if the cost is less than the benefit created, then it will be demanded (hired). If it can be outsourced or automated MORE productively it should be, this will raise our standard of living.

                When you artificially raise the wage above what an unskilled person would be willing to accept, then you increase the likelihood of it being outsourced or automated or eliminated altogether. This coercive wage does not raise productivity, it lowers it while eliminating jobs above the baseline. The automation or outsourcing are actually efforts to minimize the artificial loss of productivity of the market distortion.

                The net effect of substantial increases above the market rate is to regulate lower skilled individuals out of the market. This effectively eliminates the bottom rung of the ladder. It is cruel. However it supplies a never ending stream of dependents to vote for government cheese. Aka Blaiseworld. or perhaps France.

                Absent market interference of Blaiseworld, supply will meet demand and those seeking jobs will find them. However, there is the possibility that the going rate will be too low for the person to support themselves according to our standards. If this is the case, we are better off subsidizing the low skilled, worker with aid rather than demanding above market wages, which lead to no job and the same need for what is now even more aid.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Roger says:

                Blaiseworld speaks German, not French. Stop your pathetic little rain dance. It doesn’t even make sense, mathematically. In a world of supply and demand, it never occurs to you what might happen if the world’s purchasing power were to be increased on the basis of wages reflecting even a moderate fraction of the value added by labour. I’ve raised this point before and you’ve yet to answer it.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP says:

                You can’t increase “the world’s” purchasing power by shifting business revenues from one group to another. You can increase the receiving group’s purchasing power, but it is not an increase to the sum total purchasing power of all.Report

              • Michelle in reply to Roger says:

                Absent market interference of Blaiseworld, supply will meet demand and those seeking jobs will find them.

                This sounds so good in theory but never seems to work out in practice. See: history of the Gilded Age.Report

              • Roger in reply to Michelle says:

                THIS Gilded Age:

                “During the 1870s and 1880s, the U.S. economy rose at the fastest rate in its history, with real wages, wealth, GDP, and capital formation all increasing rapidly.For example, between 1865 and 1898, the output of wheat increased by 256%, corn by 222%, coal by 800% and miles of railway track by 567%. Thick national networks for transportation and communication were created. The corporation became the dominant form of business organization, and a managerial revolution transformed business operations. By the beginning of the 20th century, per capita income and industrial production in the United States led the world, with per capita incomes double that of Germany or France, and 50% higher than Britain.” (Wikipedia)

                So, Michelle, your example of free market’s never working in practice is the era where we made the most progress ever against poverty? Bizarro world. This era was better for humanity in terms of true progress out of poverty than any period ever, before or since.Report

              • Chris in reply to Roger says:

                I suppose that by this logic, given the transformation of Russia from a poor backwater agrarian society into an industrial giant and world superpower in its first few decades under communist rule means that communism works.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Roger says:

                There are a non-zero number of folks out there that do, in fact, argue something to the effect of “say what you will about Stalinism…” and then say “to be sure” a handful of times before arguing that very thing.

                It was probably more common when I was a kid than it is today, though.

                To be sure.Report

              • Chris in reply to Roger says:

                Jay, yeah, I’ve heard it (though it’s been a while).

                The wonderful thing about capitalism is that its decentralized enough not to produce any Stalins when, for example, the capitalists are wiping out entire populations of native peoples, or enslaving the native peoples of other nations. One of those things happened during the exact same time period Roger’s celebrating here, and in fact, the reasons he’s celebrating the period are not inseparable from that thing happening. But there’s no Stalin, so we can say, “The market works. Look at how far we advanced in the 1870s and 80s,” and no one will think we’re celebrating a monster like Stalin.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Roger says:

                During the 1870s and 1880s, the steam engine.

                I’m not sure this is a great predictor for any particular economic system’s general efficacy.

                Because, yanno, the steam engine.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Roger says:

                Over time, we’ve come to understand the USSR succeeded in spite of the Communists, not because of them. Khrushchev once defended Solzhenitsyn’s publication of Ivan Denisovitch saying There’s a Stalinist in each of you; there’s even a Stalinist in me. We must root out this evil.

                The USSR would have become a superpower in any event, China, too. There was no shortage of talented scientists and intellectuals in either country. There’s a good argument for saying Communism did nothing but stunt the rise of both countries by murdering the thinkers. Well, they murdered millions of others and enslaved millions more.

                Every time these rush-rush industrialisations take place, the roads to progress are paved with human bones. See Peter the Great and the creation of St. Petersburg.Report

              • Michelle in reply to Roger says:

                Roger–the Gilded Age worked well for the people at the top but not so great for the working class who were subject to unsafe working conditions, low wages, and ridiculous working hours. And, if they were really lucky, they got to send their kids to work for a pittance because child labor wasn’t illegal. The union movement and the movement toward regulation did not arise in a vacuum; rather these movements arose because the “free” market system worked far better for some than others. Likewise, the antitrust movement arose because, as it turns out, plenty of businessmen weren’t all that found of competition.

                Your theories of the free market work well when they’re not confronted with history. The whole notion that the market works by some kind of laws just like nature is nonsense. Markets are human creations subject to human whim and capriciousness .Report

              • Chris in reply to Roger says:

                Also, we put Andrew Jackson on the $20, but at least we don’t have a Stalin in our history!Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Roger says:

                There’s a reason it’s called the Gilded Age and not the Golden Age. The one is just cheap plating, the other the genuine article. Mark Twain coins the phrase.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Roger says:

                And there are people who’ll say the same about Hitler (you know, at first, before he started to go bad.) About the same number as when I was a kid, unfortunately.Report

              • Roger in reply to Roger says:


                The steam engine, coal, the railroad, the corporation, insurance, modern investment techniques, chemical engineering, the telegraph, faster ships, better steel all supported by modern science and connected by the first large scale free markets.

                The processes of discovery, invention, investing in good ideas, better transportation, larger markets, division of labor and exchange, international markets and such all blossomed together. I can recommend several dozen good books on the topic. Barriers to Riches by Parente and Prescott is good. Better yet, Bourgeois Dignity by McCloskey. Douglas North is also a good source.Report

              • Roger in reply to Roger says:

                No Michelle,

                The guilded age and the industrial revolution were the great breakthroughs for the rest of us. There have always been rich aristocrats who stole from or ensurfed the peasants. The industrial revolution was the beginning of the increase in living standards for the rest of us. Impoverished farmers were freed from the land that they were tied to and they went to the cities an towns where they could work for wages. They left the farm because the towns were BETTER.

                Starting around 1800 living standards, lifespan, productivity and Health began to increase substantially for the masses for the first time since the advent of agriculture about ten thousand years earlier. The industrial revolution and the guided age were the first time ever in any society since the formation of the universe, where people didn’t scrape buy in a Malthusian world.

                The working hours were an improvement over what they had back on the farm. And the kids worked as serfs too.

                I am not trying to defend everything that was done back then, I will only state that you pointed to a particular era as proof that market’s o not work, yet the era you are pointing out was the most magnificent ever for the masses. The era you point out was the beginning of the current middle class.Report

              • Roger in reply to Roger says:


                Powerful people and states have exploited the less powerful since there were people and states. I started this thread by suggesting the benefits of free markets and people being allowed to apply for jobs without having a@$holes forbidding them from getting jobs via artificial minimum wages that boot them ou of the market. Michelle, oddly enough pointed to the era of greatest human enrichment as an example that I was wrong. I corrected her.

                Now you jump in and blame free markets for exploiting and enslaving native people. Free markets are defined as voluntary, non coercive relationships such as employment or trade between willing adults. Free marketers cannot exploit or enslave natives without no longer being free marketers. I repeat, you cannot mutually agree to voluntary exchange with a gun to your head and a chain on your ankle.

                I will agree that politicians and bad men did use the outputs (such ad wealth and trchnology) of free markets to exploit and enslave. Bad men and leaders of state always have and always will. This doesn’t exactly lead to a good argument though with someone such as myself who wants to minimize the power of bad men and statesmen, does it?

                Said another way. Exploitation didn’t start with free markets. It did begin to end though.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Roger says:

                Exploitation didn’t start with free markets. It did begin to end though.

                A fair amount of truth there.Report

              • Chris in reply to Roger says:

                Roger, my point, which is quite simple, is that both market-based economies and planned ones tend to screw people over at the same time they’re making giant leaps forward in industrialization and improving the standard of living in aggregate. Only one of us is eliding part of this equation.Report

              • Roger in reply to Roger says:


                OK,fair enough, but it does seem you may be implying that the exploitation of natives contributed significantly to the advance in living conditions in the west. I would disagree (though note the modifier significant*). The scale of improvement of living standards, and the ability to scale the gains widely argues against this hypothesis.

                * I agree that some of our improved living standard probably came via exploiting foreigners.Report

              • Chris in reply to Roger says:

                Roger, I suppose my larger point is that material gains always come at the expense of someone, and large and rapid gains come at great expense to a great number of people. This is true of whatever materialist system produces those gains.

                I think it’s undeniable that the advances in this country came at the expense of Native Americans and African slaves. For one, much of the reason why the economy of the United States expanded so rapidly is that, unlike Europe (which was producing as many if not more technological advances as we were, within a significantly less free system for the most part), we were able to exploit an increasingly large supply of natural resources, largely by displacing the people who’d lived in the regions where those resources were found. Again, this seems undeniable to me. And while you may think it’s possible to tell the story of the great American industrial and economic advances of the 19th century without this, history says otherwise.Report

              • Roger in reply to Roger says:

                Yes, we stole the lands and exploited slaves. But this had been going on for longer than recorded history. Everyone with power had been enslaving or ensurfing and stealing lands. I say this not to justify it, but to clarify that there was nothing NEW that explained the novel increase in living standards during the 19th and 20th century.

                Average daily living standards have been running at subsistence levels of $2 to $3 per day (equivalent). This was true in France in the 17thC, China in the 11th, Rome in the 1st, a well as Mesopatamia, New Zealand and Belize. Something changed with the industrial revolution and it wasn’t taken from others.

                Now we have substantially more people than ever, living longer and better at substantially higher standards of living. With those with free markets and rule of law living standards that are 20 to 40 times higher per person per day.

                These didn’t come at someone else’s expense. More people didn’t get richer at the same time off others expense. We learned to create wealth in a positive sum process. New inventions, new materials, new types of transportation and the power of division of labor and exchange. We became more productive and found ways to grow twenty times as much food with one fiftieth the number of people. The same with factories and entertainment.

                Exploitation doesn’t raise average living standards for all. It actually lowers the average. Free markets, science and technology created wealth.Report

              • Chris in reply to Roger says:

                Roger, you’re basically stating my point. Of course the market system didn’t invent exploitation. And perhaps, over the last century, it has done more to reduce exploitation than any other system. But it took exploitation to get it to where it is, and it still takes exploitation to maintain its position (just ask the people in developing nations who make the shit that we buy).

                Also, your concept of coercion and mine are not equally broad, as yours seems to only include coercion by the state.Report

              • Roger in reply to Roger says:


                It required exploitation in the sense of the word that the present required the past and the past included exploitation.

                Your comment on exploiting those in developing nations that make stuff reminds me of the old Groucho Marx comment on how he would never hire a communist, for fear he would be exploiting them.

                You are of course right that I don’t believe offering someone a job is exploitation. In general it is doing them a great service. As they enter the free enterprise net they too are seeing their standards of living rise above any of their ancestors ever. The last ten years has seen more humans rise out of poverty than any other, and the gains are going to those that embrace markets.

                This all comes across as crazy talk to progressives though, doesn’t it?Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Roger says:

                Oh, it’s this argument again.

                1. I set up shop in dirt poor country.
                2. Dirt poor people line up in droves to apply for jobs in my shop because it’s at least marginally better than their next best alternative. 3. I’m exploiting them.

                There’s always something between 2 and 3 that never seems logically persuasive to me.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Roger says:

                The part between 2 and 3 where you could pay workers even more, but it might take 1/2 a point off your share price on Wall Street.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Roger says:

                “Could.” Indeed. But how “could, but didn’t” logically entails “exploitation”…that’s where the fuzzy logic never really works clearly for me.Report

              • Chris in reply to Roger says:

                James, my temptation is to say that it was a common argument, both by slave traders and owners, as well as by colonialists throughout South America, Asia, the Pacific, Australia, and Africa that, sure, things aren’t so great for the slave or the subject, but it’s better than living in the dirt-floor thatch huts they were in before, so we’re clearly doing a good thing, even if we’re not doing the best thing, right?

                But to be less inflammatory, I will simply note that if your idea of helping people is to make them work 16-18 hours a day and then sleep in the factory, so that they can send a few bucks home every month, then there might be something wrong with your underlying paradigm. Sure, things were bad in developing nations as our world grew up around them and it was no longer tenable to live traditional lifestyles because those lifestyles simply don’t allow you to survive in a modern society, but might their be other models for obtaining labor from people in those nations without a.) essentially forcing them to work for you because there’s no alternative that leads to survival, and b.) treating them as something less than fully human in the process? I know that this is the best way to keep our 55″ flat screens under $1500 and our designer clothing somewhat affordable to the middle class and still allow Western companies to make a lot of money for their shareholders, but maybe we could think of some things we value more than, or at least should value more than, the almighty dollar and our ultimately frivolous creature comforts?Report

              • Chris in reply to Roger says:

                The “exploitation” comes from the fact that these people have essentially been put in a position, not entirely independent of our own lifestyles, in which they have no choice but to work extreme hours in close to if not well into the realm of inhumane conditions, for extremely low wages, so that a company can save a buck.

                This is well within my definition of exploitation. If it’s not in yours, then perhaps we can start working out where we both draw the lines between legitimate uses of labor and exploitation, and how we might find some common ground.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Roger says:


                I’m not really here to argue the merits, but I’ll note that you did a great job of demonstrating why I don’t find the argument persuasive. You claim “no choice,” although that is demonstrably untrue, and your first instinct was to compare the situation to cases where people were in fact forcibly denied any choice.

                The problem isn’t that the comparison is too inflammatory, but that the comparison cannot stand up to serious scrutiny. And yet it seems to be your real underlying comparison, the one you really believe, or at least the one you really want to use. No doubt it’s emotional power is great, but it’s a rhetorical power not a logical power.

                that if your idea of helping people is to make them work 16-18 hours a day and then sleep in the factory, so that they can send a few bucks home every month,

                And this is more rhetoric. It attempts to sway me by emotion (and includes a none-too-subtle mis-statement of my position, intended to shame me) rather than swaying me by logic.

                Our position is more simple and less dependent on emotional rhetoric. If a person has voluntarily chosen to accept a job, with appropriate level of knowledge to be able to make the choice rationally and no deception (fraud) in play, there is no exploitation. “No exploitation” does not necessarily mean ideal or even preferred outcome on the part of a third-party observer. It simply means the choice was made rationally and without force or fraud. (And we don’t think not having any better alternatives counts as coercion, because that leads to logical silliness really quickly (they offered me a million bucks and I was coerced into the job because all my other options were worse!))

                I think the fundamental disconnect between us on this issue is that So-Sci Chris gets abandoned in favor of Philosophy Chris on this issue. So-Sci James and So-Sci Chris can communicate, but So-Sci James and Philosophy Chris not so much.Report

              • Chris in reply to Roger says:

                James, where we disagree is on what constitutes choice, then (though I think it’s possible to be exploited in a position one chose to be in). If your “choice” is between working a job with inhumane conditions for very little pay, or you and your family potentially starving, or at least barely continuing to exist, then you don’t really have a choice.

                I’m not sure that pointing out facts, very relevant facts, constitutes an emotional argument. The facts are: inhuman conditions for almost no money, in a situation in which the only choice is between working in a sweat job or potentially starving (and not just you, but your family starving). Those tug at my emotions, to be sure, but that’s because the are what they are.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Roger says:

                I’ll say this about it James, if we both want an empirically measurable criterion for what constitutes exploitation, then we have to go with something we can both agree on. One thing that comes to mind are the cultural norms both you and I have for what constitutes a fair compensation package. Taking wages out of the calculus, I think we could both say that culturally we embrace limited work hours per day, limited hours per week, bathroom breaks, no forced abortions, no company script, freedom to leave the compound, etc. Now, maybe you disagree that those ought to be our cultural norms. In fact, I think you probably do. But other, liberals in particular, think that those norms are justified. (Perhaps mistakenly.)

                So I’d suggest that for lots of liberals, sweatshop labor is exploitative insofar as it violates our currently held cultural standards of what constitutes a fair or just employment contract within our one culture, and isn’t otherwise. So if a US based company outsourced to locations where those normative violations occur, then part of the reason is to bypass those norms.

                Of course, those norms themselves require an independent justification. But merely as a description, it seems to me that the mere existence of those norms coupled with the intentional violation of those norms by outsourcing firms grounds what liberals view as exploitative labor practices.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Roger says:

                To say it’s not a choice seems to me to be obviously a false claim. The real “not a choice” is the condition the person is in prior to the availability of the job. The job is, by definition, an improved situation, else the person would not opt for it. To conflate the two is logically unjustified. Put yourself in the position of the third world person. Would you prefer to have that job available or not? In which situation would you feel you had more options, more choice?

                Saying “it’s not a choice,” seems to me to be something we first worlders can say only because of our privileged position.

                Stillwater–Exactly, which is why I reject it as a definition of exploitation; it’s a moving standard, an essentially moral standard based on a belief that the western standard of living, a continually evolving standard, should be the measure. I asked Chris to put on his So-Sci hat. So let’s operationalize the concept of exploitation, so that we know it when we see it. “Meets western standards” is, I would argue, a really lousy operationalization of the concept because it’s a moving target. (In the debates about equality and the middle class we’ve run into that issue before–some people are comfortable with setting up a moving target, but that’s a lousy So-Sci move; it’s a cheat of an ideological move, enabling a person to always claim that more has to be done.) We have to have a reasonably fixed standard so we can actually do meaningful comparisons across cultures and across time.

                My suggestion for operationalizing exploitation is that it means fraud or coercion took place so that one party to the transaction did not gain or did not gain what they would have in the absence of the fraud or coercion (did not gain the amount that would lead a person to voluntarily enter the transaction).

                That isn’t morally satisfying to some folks. So I know it’s not going to be acceptable, and I’m not expecting them to accept it. My point is that it’s a more reliable way to operationalize the concept, and in my mind it’s superior precisely because it stays away from all the moral feeling and evolving western standards.

                Again, my point is not to argue for this position, in the sense of hoping to persuade any of you. It’s to explain the position to make it clear why the two sides cannot agree. The fundamental approaches are too widely divergent. So when these essentially moral objections are the basis for a person’s approach, and they use those fundamentally moral objections to argue with someone like Roger, they have no hope of being persuasive because they’re using a standard that to a person like him is essentially irrelevant and misguided.

                It’s like the abortion debate, when one side talks about the fetus as human and the other talks about women’s autonomy. The standards are mutually incompatible, so the two sides are talking past each other.Report

              • Roger in reply to Roger says:

                Chris and SW,

                May I suggest you are missing Groucho’s logic?

                If you are defining offering someone a job as exploitation you are in effect condemning them for offering a job.

                The implicit hope you have, of course, is that what really happens is the job offerer just makes the same offer to the same exact people for more. This is where economics eats your lunch.

                It gets back to my analogy of the Timex and Rolex watches. The only thing that allows Timex to compete is a lower price. If Rolex wanted to put Timex out of business, they don’t need to burn down their factory and kill their CEO. All they have to do is establish a regulated minimum price on watches that is above what any Timex is worth. At five thousand dollars minimum, the case for Timex is gone and Timex goes with it.

                You guys are recommending the same thing with higher minimum wages, higher union wages and better sweatshop wages. You are in effect telling the potential manufacturer to set up shop elsewhere with higher skilled workers.

                Your definition isn’t just different than ours. Yours leads to harming the people you mistakenly hope to help.

                Libertarians are accused of using their heads instead of their hearts. I believe we are using our heads to serve our hearts and rejecting actions which feel good and cause harm.Report

              • Chris in reply to Roger says:

                James, technically, it is a choice, to be sure, but it is a choice that is no choice at all. It’s as though I said, “You can swim here in the middle of the Atlantic, or you can work on my ship in physically and mentally exhausting conditions for slave wages. Which is it going to be?”

                Sure, before my ship came along, you had no choice. Now you do have a choice, but is it a choice in any meaningful sense? And even if it is, does it mean that by my working you the way I am, I’m not thereby exploiting you and the fact that your only other choice is to swim in the middle of the Atlantic (hoping maybe a more humane boat captain comes around)?Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Roger says:


                You’re still not operationalizing the concept in a reliable way. It seems to be based on a “fair enough” standard, but that’s no good because it’s too fuzzy.

                My standard is clearer and more logically defensible. “Am I better off because the ship offered me hard labor at slave wages?”

                Of course “slave” wages is another example of emotional rhetoric, and while it may be a positive signal to those who agree with you, it is a negative signal to those who disagree with you. By which I mean to once again emphasize that my primary purpose is not to persuade you to agree with our approach, but to emphasize the ways in which our approaches differ so as to be nearly meaningless to each other. I don’t expect to persuade you my view is correct, but I do hope to get you, as a fellow social scientist, to see where I’m coming from, and why you can’t really hope to persuade me with the approach you’re using.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Roger says:


                This last comment of yours gets us back to our old discussion of leverage and sweatshop labor. I don’t want to rehash that argument, but one thing that was left open at the end of it – and one thing that was overlooked by both sides in that argument to some degree – was the idea that even if we could agree on a meaning of “exploitation” in those contexts, the utility, practicality and possibility of implementing any useful measures to minimize it required further argument.

                One thing I feel pretty comfortable saying at this point in the discussion is that normatively, I disagree with a conception of exploitation that limits it to only force and fraud. (I won’t go over that again, either!) I think the very act of hiring people into sweatshops under the conditions I outlined in the above comment does in fact constitute a form exploitation.

                A second thing I feel pretty comfortable saying is that even if sweatshop workers are being Stillwater-exploited they might still rationally choose to accept an employment situation on subjective utility grounds, so in that sense they aren’t being Hanley-exploited. (You have a narrower conception of exploitation than I do.)

                A third thing I feel pretty comfortable saying is that (contra Creon Critic, to some degree) there really isn’t anything we can do legislatively from here to prevent what’s going on over there in any event (at least as I see it.) So my belief that sweatshop workers (some or most, but probably not all) are being exploited doesn’t necessarily entail the use of our government to remedy what I see as a moral problem. In fact, I’m inclined am, however disinclined to accept Hanley-exploitation as the standard by which

                And one other thing about Chris’s boat at sea analogy: I think some of the resistance I feel to fully accepting Hanley-exploitation is that it permits individuals with differential power to violate what I can only refer to as a baseline of human dignity. That is, if the only moral constraint on an employment agreement is consent from both parties, then the party with the greater power (or less desperation) can extract concessions from other which strike me as immoral, even tho no force or fraud is exercised before or after the arrangement is agreed to. Compelling women to have abortions, strikes me as just this type of agreement. The agreed to contract might have made that provision quite clear, and both parties agreed to it, but it still strikes me as wrong.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Roger says:


                Exactly. Our arguments cannot convince each other at the fundamental level, because we are basing our positions off of differing values that are not subject to reconciliation.

                And I agree that could we come to agreement on that level–which we can’t, because it’s a values difference–it wouldn’t automatically determine that we agree on policy. There’s a gap between basic values and policy preferences that gets filled in with related issues (such as expected effectiveness of the policy, anticipated side effects, etc.).Report

              • Chris in reply to Roger says:

                For the sake of this discussion, let’s say that exploitation occurs in these cases when, by virtue of a paucity of available options, you are able to extract labor from me at a wage and under conditions that anyone who had any other option would not choose. So for example, if my choices are between potential starvation and working for you at significantly lower wages, and under significantly worse conditions, than anyone who wasn’t in immediate danger of starvation would agree to, then you are exploiting me. To be sure, I am better off with your job, but a.) I don’t really have a choice, because the only other choice is death and disease, which is not a choice at all, and b.) the “better” here is such an extremely low standard that it is hardly any standard at all. The exploitation is made all the more clear when it would be possible, with minimal cost to you, to raise the wages and working conditions enough to allow some amount of dignity and comfort.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Roger says:

                could we come to agreement on that level–which we can’t, because it’s a values difference–it wouldn’t automatically determine that we agree on policy.

                Yup. I think it goes the other way too. The fact that two people have different moral frameworks doesn’t mean they can’t agree on policy, for the reasons you mention.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Roger says:

                I set up shop in an impoverished location. Since it’s better than the alternative (nothing), I can pay starvation wages. Also because it’s better than the alternative (nothing), I don’t bother putting in fire exits. The result is a hundred people burning to death. By the logic being offered, I did nothing wrong, because people freely chose to work in the firetrap. And if you tried to coerce me into observing basic fire safety laws, and as a result I moved someplace more lax, you would be guilty of hurting the people who, as a result, lost their jobs.

                This is not a hypothetical.Report

              • Roger in reply to Roger says:

                Fire escapes cost money. In rich countries we have high enough wages that it is considered irresponsible to fail to invest in fire escapes, smoke detectors, emergency first aid kits, near local fire stations, blah blah blah. In poor countries you cannot be sure of any of this (except after the fact of course.)

                It may be that the workers would be better off with slightly higher wages and none of these safeguards. You dont know this before the fact, because you are not in their shoes facing their tradeoffs with their values and goals, and if you think you do you are playing God. I will allow people in distant lands the power to decide this tradeoff themselves.

                By the way, if I was to rank who benefits workers in poor countries the most to the least, here is my ranking….

                Sweatshop owners get the highest praise, as they are actually doing something for the workers, offering a job in exchange for labor. A distant second are libertarians, who are trying to defend the good sweatshop owners do on average. Last are progressives who are trying to eliminate the jobs through their bleeding heaters combined with ignorance on secondary effects. Thus progressives are the only ones actually harming anyone.

                My guess is you guys would reverse the rankings. Interestingly enough it is an empirical question.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Roger says:

                Fire escapes cost money.

                Uh-huh. I’m done here.Report

              • Roger in reply to Michelle says:


                Of course it worked. The master planning quickly increased productivity of Russia during this era by coercively trying to replicate techniques discovered via free markets.Report

              • Chris in reply to Roger says:

                Ah, see? It was the markets, really, that caused communism to succeed as well as it did (by your standards) in those first few decades. I like that you threw in the word “coercively” as well, as though it applied only in one case and not the other. This is a perfect comment in that it is impossible to argue against, because it doesn’t really say anything.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Roger says:

                It’s also incoherent, it seems to me. And question begging. Whevs.Report

              • Roger in reply to Roger says:

                Uh, yea.

                This isn’t like some kind of hidden historical fact. The communists took factories, technology and business practices invented or discovered in the west and applied them coercively to the peasants, increasing the living standards of those they didn’t kill off.

                Do kids nowadays study some other interpretation?Report

              • Roger in reply to Roger says:


                Would you try to step up your game a bit and stop the inane “question begging,” “circular,” “incoherent,” “ideologue” snarks? If you have something to add to the conversation, please do so.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Roger says:

                Those comments are adding to the conversation. That you can’t see why is a problem, one which I’m increasingly cognizant of.

                I don’t know where that leaves us.Report

              • Roger in reply to Roger says:


                So if I complimented someone when they told you you were writing useless platitudes (that generated three days of comments), if I told you you were an ideologue when you were agreeing with me (because I obviously didn’t read your comments and just wanted to dismiss you with a snark), if I told you your arguments were circular without offering proof, or if I told you your arguments begged the question and again never explained….

                You would think I was adding value? Really?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Roger says:

                You would think I was adding value? Really?

                Absolutely. If I was in fact making vacuous, question-begging comments, there would be value in that.Report

              • trumwill mobile in reply to Roger says:

                Guys, I would let this thread go.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Roger says:

                And, obviously, the communists were simply aping capitalist techniques. They created nothing, they discovered nothing, they innovated nothing. Or if they did, it was things that would have been created, discovered, and innovated even faster under a free market. Obviously.Report

              • Roger in reply to Roger says:

                The dynamics of catch-up growth are quite different than being at the innovation lead. All the history I have read tracks the innovation lead from northern Italy to the Netherlands to England and then to the US. The innovation lead passed on like a baton in relay race.

                Those not on the lead position certainly can and do contribute ideas and institutions to economic progress, and the communists did as well. However, as a general rule catch up growth, especially master planned growth is much easier and faster as the laggards can import good, proven ideas easier than they can create novelty.

                I am sure I can find some literature on the topic if you are interested and can suspend your incredulity for a moment.Report

          • Mumbles in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            I personally see no reason to give Gingrich the benefit of the doubt, and I’m absolutely certain that the vast majority of black Americans also see no such need. It may work in another country, but in the US the stereotype of the lazy black dates, at least, to the end of slavery. There is also a tradition of referring to black people as government leeches that dates back to the time black people were first allowed to use government programs. And both of these are still issues that black people get confronted with, today, often by people who are going out of their way to do them harm. When Gingrich refers to Obama as “the food stamp president”, and says that he’ll go to the NAACP to talk about why black Americans shouldn’t be “satisfied with food stamps”, he has stepped directly into those long traditions, whether he meant to or not. It’s particularly egregious in the case of the NAACP, which has a history of “demanding paychecks” that goes back more than a century.

            This is no different than when President Obama referred to rural Pennsylvanians as “bitter” people who “cling to their guns or religion or antipathy toward people who are not like them”. It’s bad enough that what you say around the statement does not matter, and the only correct response to people’s anger is to say that you misspoke, that you apologize, and here’s what I *meant* to say.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        I started to add that parenthetical comment about the NLSY, decided not to, and then forgot to delete it before submitting. But since I started….Report

  21. Michael Cain says:

    Seventh, if the GOP wants to make conservatism attractive to African Americans, it needs to start paying attention to cities again.

    I would have reversed this somewhat: if the GOP wants to remain relevant, given demographic trends, they need to make conservatism attractive to the folks in cities and inner-ring suburbs, which will (probably) make it more attractive to African Americans. What I don’t see, but hope to hear from you, is how that might be done. The very first step would seem to be an admission that circumstances matter, and I just don’t see the current Republican Party adopting that. That there are circumstances where light rail makes more sense than more lane-miles of highway; that there are circumstances where realistically keeping guns out of the hands of the bad guys means making things less convenient for good guys as well; that where population density is higher, pollution is a more serious problem and higher levels of regulation are necessary.

    I will admit that the Democrats are not necessarily a lot better, but the population patterns are working in their favor. For example, in the area of energy policy, a carbon tax will hit rural areas like a ton of bricks. Most of the responses that work in urban areas — mass transit, tiny vehicles, higher density to reduce transportation needs — simply don’t work in rural areas. FDR cut the rural areas a bunch of special deals to reflect their circumstances; I’m not sure but what the Republicans have ticked off the current generation of Democrats to a degree that will preclude that.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Michael Cain says:

      I think you need to take it a step further (and I hope that Dennis does). Republicans run against the concept of city-folk. Cities are full of out-of-touch liberals, corrupt political machines, and moochers – at least according to the Republican narrative. There’s some element of truth to the narrative, but let’s be honest, it’s a lot easier politically for the Republicans to talk about how government aid causes dependency in the cities than how it does the same thing among farmowners.

      I think where a lot of commenters are going wrong is assuming that the white Republican is thinking of a lazy black guy when he conjures up images of deadbeat dads and welfare queens. If anything, I think that there’s less patience for “white trash” among whites, and probably for any other color trash among their own groups. But the question is, what do you do with that sentiment politically? We have a problem in this country, largely cultural, largely but not solely urban, among urban whites, blacks, et cetera. More basic than “how do you sell the policy” is “what policy do you recommend”. The libertarian would say defund everything and let people suffer, but no one wants to see suffering. The social conservative would call for school choice and, I dunno, school choice again, and wonder why no one’s excited about school choice. (That’s where I am.) The RINO would call for fiscal restraint then look shocked as prison costs continue to climb. But in his heart, the conservative knows that government can’t solve people’s bad decisions. What does that leave us in terms of policy?Report

      • greginak in reply to Pinky says:

        Policy…well it means directly trying to address problems. If a party doesn’t think they have an answer or there shouldn’t be one then say that and deal with the static. For example health insurance/care has been a major issue in this country for a long time and the R’s did squat. As recently as 2012 they offered a hearty handful of nothing to actually address problems people were having. Block grant medicaid and cuts…woo hooo…that really isn’t even trying to solve the problems people have with getting medical care.Report

        • Pinky in reply to greginak says:

          Greg – I think you missed my point. (OK, I was rambling, so it was pretty easy to do so.) What if your city policy really is practically non-existent? Not that the Republicans don’t have any city policy. Consider three formulations:

          1) The problem in the cities is mainly created by the residents. There’s little government can do to get people to help themselves.

          2) Federal government for national problems; local government for local problems. The problems of cities should be handled by city government.

          3) Government tends to make things worse. The best thing for the cities is for government to stop distorting incentives.

          Those are three formulations that many Republicans could support. The first is more social conservatism; the second, federalist; the third, libertarian or mainstream conservatism. If government can best help at the margins (#3), and the main problems of the city are social (#1), then a practically non-existent urban policy is entirely consistent.

          You say “directly trying to address problems”. But isn’t that formulation activist? Should conservatives be required to articulate activist policies? There are only so many direct actions that they’d endorse. And if they don’t, how would urban voters recognize the difference between limited government and indifference, or malice?Report

          • Dan Miller in reply to Pinky says:

            “The problems here are created by the residents” isn’t likely to be a winning message in a mayoral race anytime soon. These three formulations don’t strike me as an effort to actually reach out to urbanites.Report

            • Pinky in reply to Dan Miller says:

              Aye, there’s the, for lack of a better word, rub. What if the best policies are unglamorous? Making a few things that don’t work well, work better. Recognition that there’s nothing government can do about the rest. Is that enough to win races on?

              (Of course, I’m stating all this in broad terms. Law and order is a traditional Republican issue, and there are plenty of conservative school initiatives. And the people-caused problems in urban areas are caused by a small percentage of people; the other problems of garbage disposal, zoning, et cetera are non-partisan. There should be enough here for a good Republican candidate to win on – and sometimes they do.)Report

  22. BlaiseP says:

    @trumwill: outdent here, if you’d like.Report

    • trumwill mobile in reply to BlaiseP says:

      I think that ultimately it should be rolled in with a economic class. That would disproportionately favor non-Asian minorities, but not exclusively and without the loophole that institutions can pluck the African-American students of means.

      I should add that whole I oppose affirmative action now, I think it had been necessary to jump start integration to some degree. I don’t think we are where we want to be, but I don’t think it’s up to race-based preferences to get us further.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to trumwill mobile says:

        Advocatus Diaboli: how would any such revised AA (let us call this AA2) be any less arbitrary than AA itself? Who gets to delineate the guidelines for AA2? I’m given to understand colleges and universities already offer subsidies and scholarships for so-called underprivileged students.

        To push this into the realm of the truly absurd, let’s posit a situation where university admissions were reduced to a lottery system.

        Here’s the truth of it: most of these underprivileged kids applying to Ivy League schools have been picked out of the wreckage of the public school system and fostered by individuals with the power and means to increase their odds. They’re a little-understood counterpart to the legacy system. When Clarence Thomas was nominated to SCOTUS, he tearfully thanked the nuns who encouraged him to attend College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA.

        Clarence Thomas had a strong support structure behind him. He was raised by his grandparents. His grandfather owned a thriving business in fuel oil and ice. Devoutly Catholic and hardworking, Clarence Thomas’ grandfather propelled a boy from direst poverty into a situation where that nun would change the course of his life.

        But to hear Clarence Thomas talk about it, anyone could have done what he did. Despite the manifest race prejudice he’d encountered (he would later indignantly leave Holy Cross over just this issue), Clarence Thomas would go through life with a chip on his shoulder. He’s opposed to AA in all its forms, completely unaware of his own blind spot: not everyone got the breaks he did. Yes, he worked hard, his ambition driven by raw anger at a system which seemingly recognised his talent, his rise through the ranks forever besmirched. Was he a smart, hardworking guy who’d earned his stripes? Or was he just a beneficiary of AA? Because he couldn’t reconcile this in his own mind, he would set about burning the very ladders on which he’d risen, ladders which had been erected against the bastion walls of racism at very great cost in lives and political effort.Report

        • Will Truman in reply to BlaiseP says:

          I don’t know that it would be less arbitrary, but college admissions in general are arbitrary. Kids who are admitted fail out (sometimes as part of the design) and kids who could have made it are left out.

          When I was in high school, a couple of my best friends were Hispanic (in one case, marginally so – his name and that was it). As best as we could tell, they were targeted across the country by affirmative action programs. And why shouldn’t they be? They went to a great school, made solid (though not great) grades. And they would allow the school to check the “Hispanic” box. Except… these aren’t the kids that AA should be targeting. They had means. They had the support network. I suspect that what happened there was not unusual. Probably more the rule than the exception to the rule.

          The advantage to targeting underprivileged kids more generally is that it would be more likely to focus on the kids that need the leg up. In the minority communities, it would mean that my friends wouldn’t be accepted into colleges above their grade. It also wouldn’t disadvantage whites who similarly lack the support network, the schools, and so on.

          None of this would be a 1:1 correlation, of course. Many poor folks have a solid support network. But I think it would be closer to being on-target than looking at race specifically. And, due to the economic distribution in this country, would favor disadvantaged minorities disproportionately. It wouldn’t cause nearly as much ill-will and would be much easier for me, personally, to defend.Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to Will Truman says:

            America’s not done with race prejudice, not yet, not while we have a Congressional Black Caucus which won’t admit anyone who doesn’t conform to their notions of Negrotude. Race prejudice is a sword which cuts both ways. Were anyone to form a Congressional White Caucus, we’d never hear the end of it yet somehow we tolerate a Black Caucus.

            Were it up to me, we’d have AA2, very much along your lines. But my solution would be hugely different: instead of rescuing a few bright kids from the wreckage, I’d start at the other end of the educational river, at the source, when these kids are just little kids, something akin to Head Start. We already have the statistics on the kids who enter the prison system when they’re teenagers, tons of statistics. We know they come from fatherless families. We know the school system failed them. We can predict who’s going to enter the prison system with astonishing precision.

            See, the Conservatives have an unassailable point here about Family Values: they just don’t want to pay for the cost of intervention. They’ll gladly build the prisons to house these kids, great ponds for the rivers of sewage from which a few of these kids are plucked, however arbitrarily, by the AA system when they’re old enough to enter college. For every child saved by AA, that a hundred kids who lacked the support structures are simultaneously entering the prison system, at great financial cost to taxpayers, never seems to trouble them at any meaningful level.

            AA2 needs to start at a systemic level, with a preventive focus, not a preferential focus.Report

  23. BlaiseP says:

    @Roger: I certainly believe that the agenda of the left has contributed to the impoverishment of generations of Minorities and poor. Progressives have promoted bad culture and dependency. The left pandered to what those with lower incomes wanted, not what they needed.

    It’s interesting to watch you trot out the specious argument of Bicameral Poxosis, wherein things would not have ended up any better had the GOP been involved. It’s complete nonsense: the Left was obliged to fight the issue of racism, not in the halls of Congress but rather in the courts, where justice is blind and all good remedies give everyone a bad haircut. Blind barbers never give good haircuts.

    Furthermore, if we’re to consider the impoverishment of America on any factual basis, could it possibly be the case you’ve confused cause and effect here? Wasn’t the rise of the Civil Rights movement paralleled by the Southern States’ push for Taft-Hartley and the wonderful Right to Work laws?

    EDIT: “Less than a century ago the laborer had no rights, little or no respect, and led a life which was socially submerged and barren….American industry organized misery into sweatshops and proclaimed the right of capital to act without restraints and without conscience. The inspiring answer to this intolerable and dehumanizing existence was economic organization through trade unions. The worker became determined not to wait for charitable impulses to grow in his employer. He constructed the means by which fairer sharing of the fruits of his toil had to be given to him or the wheels of industry, which he alone turned, would halt and wealth for no one would be available…

    “History is a great teacher. Now everyone knows that the labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them.

    “Negroes are almost entirely a working people…. Our needs are identical with labor’s needs: decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old-age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community. That is why Negroes support labor’s demands and fight laws which curb labor. That is why the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature, spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth.”

    —Dr. Martin Luther King, speaking to the AFL-CIO on Dec. 11, 1961Report

    • Roger in reply to BlaiseP says:

      We obviously disagree on the essential nature of either party. I believe the current day make up of the parties is greatly an evolutionary accident. Minor changes decades ago could have built different coaliions, which would have rewarded different leaders and incentivized different intellectual pundits.

      In other words, if history was replayed ten times since the civil war, that every time the current day alignment of the parties would differ.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Roger says:

        Stuff and nonsense. You said the agenda of the left has contributed to the impoverishment of generations of Minorities and poor. This has nothing to do with punditry and everything to do with the historical record, you know, the real world, where the Right to Work states systematically abolished the one means whereby the poor and minorities had any power to change their fates. If history had replayed a thousand times, it would have resolved to the same struggle. We know who won and who lost that struggle and we also know why. You’re just not up to admitting the obvious, that within your own rhetoric of Voluntary Associations lies the truth of the trade union movement, that there is power in unity.Report

        • Roger in reply to BlaiseP says:

          Actually, I suspect I did fail to follow a turn in the conversation. My bad.

          My point, which may now be moot, was that the historical coalitions are evolutionary accidents of history.

          I have no clue how the conversation changed to right to work. But for the record, the ideal of right to work is the only position to endorse if you care about the poor. Minimum wages and closed shop unions are ways to use government coercion to prohibit the employment of the less skilled.

          Lower skilled individuals cannot compete for employment with higher skilled individuals at a uniform pay scale. Thus higher mandated union wages have the effect of crowding out lesser skilled individuals. They remain permanently unemployed and thus become part of a permanent underclass getting a permanent government assistance, creating permanent skilled government bureaucratic/administrative employment, creating more financial clout for politicians and thus becoming part of the permanent political coalition.

          Here is an analogy…. Why do people buy lesser watches when they can buy Rolexes? The answer is that Timexes and Swatches are less expensive. If Rolex wanted to put cheap watches out of business, one strategy would be to establish a minimum price for watches. A five thousand dollars per watch, Timex and Swatch can no longer compete. Who would buy one at that price?

          Minimum wages and coercive union wages do the same thing, especially as they get more extreme away from the going market wage. There is no reason to hire a black inner city kid who was forced ino a crappy government school monopoly which was unable to teach him the basics at premium wages. The best tool the inner city kid has is to get a starting job at a lower, competitive wage. Then he can develop skills and experience and habits and move up the economic ladder based upon his drive and initiative.

          Please try to respond without the usual insults, Gracias.Report

          • M.A. in reply to Roger says:

            But for the record, the ideal of right to work is the only position to endorse if you care about the poor.

            Incorrect, the ideal of “right to work” is all about exploiting the poor and pushing wages to the floor.

            Lower skilled individuals cannot compete for employment with higher skilled individuals at a uniform pay scale. Thus higher mandated union wages have the effect of crowding out lesser skilled individuals.

            Incorrect. Higher mandated union wages have the effect of stopping the inevitably centralization of resources into only a few hands and ensuring that the workers have funds that can be spent not only on necessities like food and housing, but on “disposable income” items that further drive economic growth.

            They remain permanently unemployed and thus become part of a permanent underclass getting a permanent government assistance, creating permanent skilled government bureaucratic/administrative employment, creating more financial clout for politicians and thus becoming part of the permanent political coalition.

            Again incorrect. In a union shop, what happens is that lower-skilled workers are hired and then put through training programs. The employer hires workers and if training is needed, provides the training.

            What YOU are describing is what happens in a “right to work” state where employers always seek to hire only those who carry the existing, specific skillset they want.

            You’ve got everything backwards.Report

            • Roger in reply to M.A. says:

              You assume two things.

              First, that it makes economic sense to hire the unskilled kid at that rate. If not, no business will rationally do so. Job eliminated.

              Second, that there is not another alternative hire in another country, or that the job cannot be replaced via automation or other capital expenditure. More jobs eliminated.

              Take a look at the rust belt areas with above market rates for lower skilled workers. They lost jobs exactly as the theory predicted to automation, elimination and outsourcing to less distortionary states and countries.

              Please try to respond without insults. Thanks.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Roger says:

                I have built industrial robots and specialised to integrating them with entire production lines and quality control systems. I have yet to see automation eliminate a single job in over fifteen years of doing so. Not one.

                Machines are better at handling repetitive jobs. They obey rules. People are better at handling exceptions to those rules.

                If jobs have been sent overseas, that has no bearing on the problem at hand. Germany remains an industrial powerhouse, a great exporter of increasingly sophisticated goods and services, all in sync with massive trade unions. Sure, they’ve exported jobs but they replaced them with others. Every two-bit Dorf in Germany, every little cluster of houses in the forest features a machine shop chock full of high end turret lathes and quality control robots. Guess how those workers were trained? Yes, that’s right, in trade union classrooms, under the guidance of master craftsmen, whose job it is to keep pushing the technological limits.

                Not one worthwhile job was ever eliminated by a robot. Ever. Some jobs have been outsourced which should be done by robots. Little children smear glue onto the soles of shoes, sew together soccer balls and are chained to looms in other nations. They grow highly skilled at these jobs: hand weaving carpet might seem a bit repetitive, but beatings really do work wonders when it comes to missed stitches. They have a natural advantage: their fingers are small and thus they can make smaller knots, which is how carpets are priced. But I’m sure you knew that.Report

              • Roger in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I guess that explains why 95% of people are still employed in agriculture. Thanks for sharing Blaise.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Roger says:

                This explains why countries where most of the people are farmers all seem to flee in our general direction. Gosh, do you think Virgin Galactic will start selling tickets to Rogerworld soon? It must be cooler than Phloston Paradise, everyone all swanning around in the clouds.Report

              • Roger in reply to BlaiseP says:

                RUBY ROD!Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Roger says:

                Here’s what really happens when a robot comes online in a factory, Roger. This may enlighten you somewhat, but I am not encouraged to believe this will have any more impact than my last attempt to teach a pig to sing: it was a waste of my time and only annoyed the pig.

                In this case, it was a quality control robot. Previously, dozen high school graduates used to pick up the cell phone, turn it on, make a call and rate the phone. But the factory needed to double production of this device and they didn’t have the real estate to put on twice as many human testers.

                So I took twelve phones, we call them DUTs in the quality control world, and had all twelve women rate all twelve phones on call quality. The resulting matrix was our guide to implementing the robot. Turned out we needed three robots, there’s a factor called tach time: the production line moves at a specific rate, 28 seconds on an given station.

                A lot of thought and roughly a million dollars went into these robots. Also four months of my life. The adventures of these robots would fill a fair-sized novel: suffice to say the robots went through several iterations, guided by the subject matter expertise of these twelve women. Eventually the robots went online and production was doubled, as expected.

                The robots would dutifully push defective product off the assembly line, where these twelve women would re-test the cell phones, identifying the failure point based on what the robots had found, going back up the line to tweak the upstream process, for once a manufacturing process gets out of whack, it stays that way until fixed. They had the authority to shut down the entire line if they thought it necessary: failing dozens of phones is bad for business. Better to stop and fix than perpetuate failure.

                Furthermore, this manufacturer wanted to consistently fail five percent of his product, by the way. These testers had to continually dream up new ways to achieve that five percent failure rate. But since they knew those phones the best, they were able to suggest several substantial engineering improvements, remember, these are just high school graduates, not BSEE types.

                The robots were useful enough to survive four generations of cell phones. For all I know, that speaker tester is still in service, working on smartphones. Maybe the vision system bots are, too, they were pretty flexible and I know they formed the basis for subsequent generations of QC bots.

                Not one job was lost and everyone benefited hugely from these QC robots.Report

              • Roger in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Yeah, I’ll bet we’ve both annoyed our share of pigs. I too have hired and automated more jobs than I could count. way off topic.

                Let me be real clear here…

                When you force wages up above the level Where it makes sense to hire someone, their job is rationally eliminated. When the minimum wage becomes significant and systemic, then you will begin eliminating any need for an individual at all. Anywhere. As mandated wages go up, the least skilled or least dependable go first. The unemployment rate for inner city black youths is directly related to this problem. You guys screwed up their education and then raised the wage rates and mandatory benefit level so that nobody would hire them.

                This is the recipe for dependency…. Force people to go to your horribly unproductive monopoly schools so they come out uneducated and the teacher unions vote Democrat. Then raise the cost of hiring so that the unskilled never have a chance of being hired. Then guarantee them benefits.

                Oh, and then try to convince everybody that the other party is full of racists. Sneaky!Report

              • Stillwater in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Roger, everyday you sound more and more like an ideologue.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                If we’re going to agree on anything, it’s the fact that pigs can’t be taught to sing. As I said, I’m the guy who builds the robots and the integration and the rulesets. I’ve yet to see a robot replace a human. Perhaps you could be so good as to give me an example of one such replacement. People don’t do well in repetitive work.

                Let me be real clear here. When a worker produces value above his cost of employment, he’s going to be retained. We call this Exploitation but let’s attempt to take out the pejorative nature of that word, for that simple equation of exploitation determines why he’s hired at all. Perversely, in a society where citizens are viewed on the basis of their exploitability over and against their cost to society, some surprising things begin to happen. A safety net immediately forms, for every exploitable worker is a strategic asset, the more exploitable, the more valuable. We don’t stint on repair bills for machinery, we figure them into the total cost of ownership. But an exploitable worker, well, this is a treasure, more precisely, an asset. We can book the cost of his education as we might a building improvement, an increase to capital. We want to keep that worker as happy as we can make him.

                You’ve got it absolutely, completely bass-ackward, Roger. If we want a working society, we treat the workers at least as well as fixed assets. They’re how anyone makes money. Corporations are more than their machines and cutting margins. In a world of beggar-thy-neighbour, we shall all be beggars. You simply can’t conceive of a world where wages ought to reflect people’s exploitability: we pay top execs millions and by God, if they can keep their market cap growing, they’ve earned every penny. Why can’t you stretch your brittle little mind around the same concept for workers?Report

              • Roger in reply to BlaiseP says:


                Last time you accused me of being an ideologue, it was when I was agreeing with you vehemently.

                This time, you do realize you are calling me an ideologue when my whole point is that either party would have taken advantage of poor and minorities?

                If you disagree with me, rather than joining Mike, MA an Blaise in the insult game, why don’t you attempt to counter my arguments.

                Do you disagree that inner city schools suck?

                Do you disagree that wealthier people have educational choices that are denied to the poor?

                Do you disagree that government service union workers thrive off fending off competition?

                Do you disagree that black inner city youth have outrageous and systemic unemployment?

                Do you disagree with economic theory on supply and demand?

                Do you is agree that we have a problem with dependency on government aid in inner cities?

                Let me know, but please try to avoid the insults. Gracias.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Roger, what the hell do those questions have to do with whether or not you’re an ideologue? You think you aren’t. That’s fine. But it seems to me you’re incapable of seeing the world thru any other lens than your ideology, which leads you to absolutely ridiculous theories about the motives, mental states and desires of so-called “progressives” to account for why they disagree with your views.

                It’s entirely circular. And entirely a priori. (And you know how I feel about a priori theories!)Report

              • Kim in reply to BlaiseP says:

                “Do you disagree that black inner city youth have outrageous and systemic unemployment?”

                nope. they have underground employment, which is an entirely different matter.

                “Do you is agree that we have a problem with dependency on government aid in inner cities?”

                Only if the dependents are the landlords. Citing Philippe Bourgois (a little old, please let me know if the numbers have changed), the poor cannot live in Harlem on the government dole.Report

              • M.A. in reply to Roger says:

                First, that it makes economic sense to hire the unskilled kid at that rate. If not, no business will rationally do so. Job eliminated.

                I’ve been that “kid” hired on and trained for a month in order to work. So, for you saying “job eliminated”, you are simply disconnected from reality on this one.

                Unions encourage hiring able bodies and minds, encouraging and training them, and training existing workers to move up when they express an interest. Corporate environments in an RTW + “Right To Fire” state don’t.Report

              • Roger in reply to M.A. says:

                Supply and demand. If you think your case, specific to your skills is an effective counter argument, then so be it.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Roger says:

                What? Are you trying to say the employment market is the sale of people? Well, it is congruent with your advocacy of sweatshops, I guess.Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to Roger says:

            Your point was originally that the left has contributed to the impoverishment of sad cases, over which you have proceeded to weep a pint of crocodile tears. The coalition of — surprise, surprise! — the conservative Republicans and the Dixiecrat Democrats led to Taft-Hartley and the rise of the Right to Work states. How they ever found common cause perplexes only the clueless. Allow me to be that clue: the impoverishment of which you speak arose from breaking down the Voluntary Associations you’re always nattering on about, to wit, the trade union. The trade union has a mechanism for turning the less-skilled into the highly skilled: apprentice -> journeyman -> master craftsman. And they aren’t paid the same. So much for that cavilling. It’s just plain wrong.

            Here’s the reality: people buy both Timexes and Rolexes. They’re different markets. You’d know this if you took any economists seriously except your own Libertarian lunatics, ever given to analogies and seldom to facts.

            There is every reason for a trade union to induct an unemployed inner city black kid: he’s one more pair of arms in the ranks. As for public schools, they’re not a monopoly and never were: if his parents had the means, they’d put him into a private school. Many do. The public schools are left with those whose parents can’t afford to send them to private schools. Once again, Roger, will you please confine yourself to the real world and think through what you’re saying, for once? If you don’t want me scoffing so loudly, pull your socks up and think through what you’re saying. Trust me, I’ll respect a good argument, should you make one.Report

            • Roger in reply to BlaiseP says:

              Voluntary associations don’t require mandatory dues and membership. That is called involuntary.

              Of course unions have processes to improve skills to a limited degree. Nowhere near as effective as what businesses have though. Unions have incentives to featherbed, subsidize rent seekers, discourage exemplary performance, and to pay based upon seniority rather than economic contribution. This is really beside the point though that unions discourage hiring of the unskilled altogether as my response to MA clarifies.

              And your argument that richer kids don’t face a monopoly is not helping your case. Yes advantaged kids like yours and mine got the alternatives of better districts, private school or home schooling. You force the unionized monopoly on the poor kid.

              The case for the left harming the poor so they can become a permanent dependent class is pretty disheartening.

              You comment that Rolex and Timex are two different markets totally misses my point. That absent a price difference the markets collapse together. At five grand, you will only buy Rolexes. The other market is effectively eliminated. this is what above market wages does. It reduces or eliminates the market for jobs for young poor people. It effectively pulls the ladder out from under them.Report

              • trumwill mobile in reply to Roger says:

                Roger, you seem to be overlooking that RTW is coercive. It preventsa business and a union ffrom entering a voluntary associationReport

              • Roger in reply to trumwill mobile says:

                Not exactly. I am aware that RTW as written has some coercive elements which I reject (as do many libertraians). That is why I prefaced my original comments with “the ideal of right to work.”Report

              • M.A. in reply to Roger says:

                In other words, you’re not dealing in reality?

                Thanks for clarifying. But what we need to deal with is not the high minded abstractions of “well if only everything were perfect and everyone always made optimal decisions and there were no STDs and no unwanted pregnancies and and and and…”

                The real world’s a bit dirty. In the real world there are thugs, and abusers, and thieves, and bosses who are perfectly content to press an advantage to the point where no rational, thinking, ethical person should ever consider going.

                RTW + union-busting is their instrument du jour. It’s a race to the bottom, a way to see how low they can press wages while keeping corporate profits from ever “trickling down” as the conservatives always promised would happen if we just gave them cuts in corporate taxes and RTW + union-busting.

                The results aren’t good. Like BlaiseP said, please start arguing reality.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Roger says:

                Unions have no particular reason to bite the hand that feeds them. They are, after all, only one hand in the pair: management is the other hand. Both have every reason to strive for joint prosperity. Nobody’s able to force anything on the other without harming himself in the process. We see what’s happened in the Right to Work states: they seem to be uniformly worse off than before.

                Right-To-Work laws thus DO NOT attract businesses in any major way. Indeed, an excellent case can be made that these laws hurt small businesses in a major way. Your local restaurants, florists, auto shops, small enterprises of all kinds, depend on local consumption by local consumers who spend more when they have higher union-generated wages. Only large corporations really improve their bottom lines when unions get trashed, and its smaller-sized not larger-sized employers who generate the most jobs in this country.

                One other list is worth consulting in considering the effects of R-T-W laws on the overall economy — a list of which states receive the most federal aid per capita. Four out of five of these states (Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina and Virginia) are all R-T-W states. Which might suggest to some people (it does to me) that taxpayers end up having to subsidize the big corporations that get states to pass R-T-W laws — government subsidies to workers not protected by unions.

                Though American workers remain the world’s most productive, why have worker wages continued to stagnate and executive compensation risen so astronomically? For this you have no answer. America’s workers are worse off than ever. I have an explanation why, one backed by facts. All you have is some silly assertions, without a fact to back them up.

                Here’s the synthesis of your position and mine. The closed union is a bad reaction to a bad problem. The bad problem, identified in the quote above, is the large corporations who routinely benefit from R-T-W. So far, one point for you. Closed unions are bad. But here’s some chalk on my side of the board: if the large corporations had some workers’ representatives on the boards of directors, the need for a closed union goes away entirely. We can actually make closed unions illegal, as they do in Germany. Lots of people aren’t even in a trade union in Germany but they benefit from the influence of the workers’ representatives on the boards of directors.

                How does Germany make this work and we can’t?

                Again, Roger, this is yet another classic instance of Ready, Shoot, Aim. I have repeatedly said we can short-circuit the need for closed unions by putting workers on the boards of directors of corporations. In the absence of this jumper, which is a settled matter in Germany, there’s nothing particularly awful about the closed union. Closed boards of directors which will not operate on behalf of the workers are equally awful.Report

              • Roger in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Having employee reps on the board seems like a great idea to me. In addition, I think having CEOs and ex CEOs all serving on each other’s boards is a terrible idea, and should be institutionally eliminated.

                Hugs and kisses bro’.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Roger says:

                Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Sarbanes-Oxley was a good first start. Now we need something which would go beyond independent auditing and make sure these boards are doing more than playing CYA. I’m not sure how it could be arranged, but some of these boards are packed full of deadwood and has-been celebrities, providing no strategic guidance and letting these CEOs run around the executive suite like so many baboons in good suits, permanently damaging good firms.

                We could do worse than to put a worker’s rep in those boardrooms.Report

              • trumwill mobile in reply to BlaiseP says:

                FWIW, even my liberal friends that have to deal with S-O call it excessively burdensome.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                And I’ve heard fat boys puffing and sweating and whinging as they are made to go around the track. Same difference, folks. What a burden, to make these overpaid bozos earn their keep and read the reports and put some ass meat into the proposition of running a corporation. The auditors are doing most of the heavy lifting anyway, what are these folks complaining about exactly?

                And who’s complaining? Well, let’s see, there’s Ron Paul, who seems to think we ought to emulate Nigerian scam artistes. Maybe he wants another Enron or something. SarbOx’s enemies are mostly idiots but some of them miss the good old days when crooked accounting schemes let them issue worthless investor guidance. Plenty of other nations are following our example, simply because SarbOx makes investors some meaningful information and thereby encourages capital formation.Report

  24. Wardsmith says:

    Dennis, I wanted to thank you for such an excellent first real OP as a contributor! Carry on sir and I hope to read many more of your contributions.Report

  25. Damon says:


    Notwithstanding all the above, I grew up in the west where the only “racism” was against Mormons and Native Americans. I had to come to the East Coast to experience Black / White racism. Thing is, I saw (over 6 years working in an auto assembly plant) racism on both sides, black to white and white to black, about evenly distributed, and I personally experienced it.

    Seems to me, very little black on white racism seems to get talked about compared to the excessive amout of discussion on the reverse.Report

    • Michelle in reply to Damon says:

      There’s something of a power differential. Whites, particularly, white males, have, until relatively recently, held the major positions of power in both government and business and have frequently engaged in discriminatory behavior. This is not to deny that black on white racism doesn’t exist, but it’s impact on the lives of white people have been negligible.Report

      • trumwill mobile in reply to Michelle says:

        This is pretty much right. Functionally speaking, rarely in my life have I needed the approval of minorities. Few minorities can say the same of whites.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Michelle says:

        Is it just my perception, or is this sort of power differential being changed by generational shifts? I mean, back in my day, all the cool kids routinely transgressed the colour line to the point where it’s no longer transgressive. The influx of women into the professional world, now well into its third or fourth generation, depends how you count, seems to have changed a good many attitudes about the nature of power.

        Government seems to be lagging behind at least a generation. But then, it always does, what with the old power brokers running the show.Report

      • Damon in reply to Michelle says:

        noticed the past tense.

        As a summer employee I had no power. All the regular guys were full time union employees. Besides, I don’t buy the excuse that because someone, or an ancestor was, a victim of racism, that means society should tolerate me being a victim of racism.Report

    • JTR in reply to Damon says:

      Seems to me, very little black on white racism seems to get talked about compared to the excessive amout of discussion on the reverse.

      Revenge vs. love of countryReport

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