Saturday, October 09, 2004

 

How the Republicans could attract black voters (if they really wanted to)

Republicans wonder why African-Americans don't vote for them (or, rather, why they vote for Republicans in such minuscule numbers). It's kind of the never mentioned counterpoint question to the one raised in Thomas Frank's new book What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (about why so few white Americans in the "heartland" vote for Democrats). Republicans point out, for example, that Democrats take the black vote for granted; that blacks actually share some values with Republicans, such as strong Christian faith, opposition to gay marriage, etc.

However, there's a very good reason why so few blacks trust the Republican Party: its recent legacy of racism, especially in the South. From Nixon's "Southern Strategy" to David Duke to Jesse Helms to Bob Barr to Trent Lott to Saxby Chambliss, the history of the Republican Party in the South is one that at least strongly raises suspicion that they at the very least don't mind courting the vote of racist whites. Whether or not such leading Republicans as George W. Bush and Richard Cheney are themselves racists (I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they aren't, although appointing John Ashcroft as Attorney-General after his interview with Southern Partisan magazine must raise an eyebrow), they have not done all they could to allay suspicions that they don't mind getting votes of racists.

Anyway, I have a pretty much surefire way the Republicans could begin to win votes from blacks: repudiate the Confederate flag. If tomorrow, George W. Bush was to go to the State Capitol of Georgia in Atlanta and demand that Georgia remove the Confederate battle flag from its state flag, the dynamic would begin to change fairly soon. It would be almost impossible for Georgia legislators to resist such a demand, and they would be able to appeal to more conservative blacks who agree with Republicans on many issues but won't vote for them because of their certainty that the Republican Party turns a blind eye to the racists in its midst.

Now, I know there's no way George W. Bush is ever going to do this. First of all, he would claim (as he did in South Carolina in 2000) that it is purely an internal state issue, up to the voters of each state to decide. Oddly, though, that doesn't stop him from getting involved in other issues that might also be considered internal state affairs (medical marijuana, capital punishment, etc.)

Second, the Republicans really do depend, to a large extent, on the votes of racist whites in the South. The black voters they might gain probably don't seem worth the risk of alienating a big chunk of their base. That kind of cynical calculation is not lost upon blacks, of course.

It might be argued that the Confederate flag is just a symbol, and it should not stop blacks from voting for Republicans if they otherwise agree with them. But the same could be said about the issue of gay marriage, which Republicans use to cleave off white voters whose economic interests might best be served by voting for Democrats. The fact that Republicans not only do not repudiate the Confederate flag but actually press it in state elections (such as the most recent governor's election in Georgia) is all the proof African-Americans need to conclude that Republicans don't care enough about racism to actually do anything about it, symbolic or otherwise.

As a Democrat, I am not worried that this is going to happen anytime soon. In a way, the fact that most Republicans claim they are not racists makes their refusal to finally bury the Confederat flag - indeed, their insistence on still making an issue out it - even worse than if they were all racists. A principled stand on this issue - to their own detriment when it comes to appealing to a significant part of their base - would impress blacks (and some moderate whites in the rest of the country) far more than anything else they could ever do. Have they that kind of moral courage? Obviously, they don't.

And that's why blacks don't vote for Republicans.
Comments:
I was surfing around and found another George Bush site.George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People This place has a ton of funny videos and mp3s.
 
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Comments: "
I was surfing around and found another George Bush site.George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People This place has a ton of funny videos and mp3s.
 
" "
Another death information penalty Resource... LifeLaw.org . A discussion forum for all that deals with such hot-button issues as death information penalty .
 
" Post a Comment

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