January 6, 2009

Is latent racism the bedrock of the Republican party?

A recent column pointing out the crucial role racism has played in nearly everything the Republican party has done over the last several decades got a lot of attention, and rightfully so.

To what extent is racism the underlying strain that runs through all of Republican policy and thought?

Me? I've always recognized the intense strain of racism, both overt and coded, that ran through nearly every Republican policy position. And it's probably that fact that has spelled it's downfall.

Read the piece and leave your thoughts.

Paul Krugman in the New York Times:

As the new Democratic majority prepares to take power, Republicans have become, as Phil Gramm might put it, a party of whiners.

Some of the whining almost defies belief. Did Alberto Gonzales, the former attorney general, really say, “I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror”? Did Rush Limbaugh really suggest that the financial crisis was the result of a conspiracy, masterminded by that evil genius Chuck Schumer?

But most of the whining takes the form of claims that the Bush administration’s failure was simply a matter of bad luck — either the bad luck of President Bush himself, who just happened to have disasters happen on his watch, or the bad luck of the G.O.P., which just happened to send the wrong man to the White House.

The fault, however, lies not in Republicans’ stars but in themselves. Forty years ago the G.O.P. decided, in effect, to make itself the party of racial backlash. And everything that has happened in recent years, from the choice of Mr. Bush as the party’s champion, to the Bush administration’s pervasive incompetence, to the party’s shrinking base, is a consequence of that decision.

If the Bush administration became a byword for policy bungles, for government by the unqualified, well, it was just following the advice of leading conservative think tanks: after the 2000 election the Heritage Foundation specifically urged the new team to “make appointments based on loyalty first and expertise second.”

Contempt for expertise, in turn, rested on contempt for government in general. “Government is not the solution to our problem,” declared Ronald Reagan. “Government is the problem.” So why worry about governing well?

Where did this hostility to government come from? In 1981 Lee Atwater, the famed Republican political consultant, explained the evolution of the G.O.P.’s “Southern strategy,” which originally focused on opposition to the Voting Rights Act but eventually took a more coded form: “You’re getting so abstract now you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites.” In other words, government is the problem because it takes your money and gives it to Those People.

Oh, and the racial element isn’t all that abstract, even now: Chip Saltsman, currently a candidate for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee, sent committee members a CD including a song titled “Barack the Magic Negro” — and according to some reports, the controversy over his action has actually helped his chances.

So the reign of George W. Bush, the first true Southern Republican president since Reconstruction, was the culmination of a long process. And despite the claims of some on the right that Mr. Bush betrayed conservatism, the truth is that he faithfully carried out both his party’s divisive tactics — long before Sarah Palin, Mr. Bush declared that he visited his ranch to “stay in touch with real Americans” — and its governing philosophy.

That’s why the soon-to-be-gone administration’s failure is bigger than Mr. Bush himself: it represents the end of the line for a political strategy that dominated the scene for more than a generation.

The reality of this strategy’s collapse has not, I believe, fully sunk in with some observers. Thus, some commentators warning President-elect Barack Obama against bold action have held up Bill Clinton’s political failures in his first two years as a cautionary tale.

But America in 1993 was a very different country — not just a country that had yet to see what happens when conservatives control all three branches of government, but also a country in which Democratic control of Congress depended on the votes of Southern conservatives. Today, Republicans have taken away almost all those Southern votes — and lost the rest of the country. It was a grand ride for a while, but in the end the Southern strategy led the G.O.P. into a cul-de-sac.

Mr. Obama therefore has room to be bold. If Republicans try a 1993-style strategy of attacking him for promoting big government, they’ll learn two things: not only has the financial crisis discredited their economic theories, the racial subtext of anti-government rhetoric doesn’t play the way it used to.

Will the Republicans eventually stage a comeback? Yes, of course. But barring some huge missteps by Mr. Obama, that will not happen until they stop whining and look at what really went wrong. And when they do, they will discover that they need to get in touch with the real “real America,” a country that is more diverse, more tolerant, and more demanding of effective government than is dreamt of in their political philosophy.

3 Comments:

At 1/08/2009 11:52 AM, Blogger UMRBlog said...

I don't know about engrained racism. Too easy, too simple.

What I do know is that it is simply delicious that Gonzo now consider himself a victim of the War on Terror. Please stop! You're hurting me!

If Gonzo would have just listened to the Big Boy lawyers in his own department, he wouldn't have been a "victim". He'd have been an American Patriot for the Ages. Life brings us tests, Gonzo. You struck out in game seven with the winning runs in scoring position.

Good luck schlocking your book.

 
At 1/11/2009 6:58 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

UMR,
Indeed.

Fredo was a pathetic figure BEFORE he was plopped into a position for which he was in no way prepared or qualified for, much less capable of handling.

The guy was Bush's personal flack, a B-grade fixer (unlike James Baker, the Bush's fixer-in-chief) and shouldn't have been in the same zip code as the Justice Dept, let alone entrusted with "running" it.

Holder is going to have a lot of repair work to do. I wish him luck.

 
At 1/11/2009 7:10 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

UMR,
Indeed.

Fredo was a pathetic figure BEFORE he was plopped into a position for which he was in no way prepared or qualified for, much less capable of handling.

The guy was Bush's personal flack, a B-grade fixer (unlike James Baker, the Bush's fixer-in-chief) and shouldn't have been in the same zip code as the Justice Dept, let alone entrusted with "running" it.

Holder is going to have a lot of repair work to do. I wish him luck.

And yes, the pathetic parade of incompetent yes men and women continues, seemingly with increasingly pathetic displays.

Fredo casting himself as "victim". (Which proves once and for all the fact that many in Bush & Co. were and are utterly delusional and without any moral foundation or grounding in reality whatsoever. It almost seems like it must have been a prime requirement.)

Then there's the slimy criminally wrong and delusional Simon Bar Sinister (aka Richard Pearle, prime archetect of the disaster of Iraq) now trying to say in essense that they did nothing wrong and are blameless for everything, the mountainous evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

And the utterly bat-shit crazy and stunningly stupid Gov. Perhapstherealso (aka Sarah Palin), who continues to display her pathological personality in ways that should make any reasoning persons, regardless of ideology, teeth hurt.

She's an absolute train wreck, and as one person dubbed her, the Tanya Harding of politics, though I'd say that unfairly tars Tanya Harding.

Caryolyn Kennedy gets absolutely crucified for including too many "you knows" during an interview, and this goof-ball Palin is out there trying to say they're treating Kennedy much better than they treated her!

Listen Sarah, you're getting off easy. Kennedy is getting barbequed over too many "you knows", while you speak as if there was no such thing as a period, with so many repeated "perhaps'", "there's" and worst of all, about two "also's" per sentence, and so incoherantly and disjointedly that it takes scholars days to try to figure out what the hell you've SAID.

Yet there are the pundits, dutifully debating whether you're really quite the sharp politician and flogging themselves for perhaps committing the jounalistic crime of pointing out that an idiot is an idiot.

The whole spectacle is breath-taking, but too depressing to dwell on.

 

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