Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Back to the Solid South

Last Saturday, with the defeat of Sen. Mary Landrieu in a runoff election in Louisiana, the South lost its last Democratic Senator.

That's not surprising, since the South is racist and couldn't be expected to vote for a Democrat anyway. Because racism. Lots of liberals are writing angry screeds about this, in the aftermath of Landrieu's defeat, here and here.

It's the number one article of faith among liberals. Here's how the Narrative goes: President Johnson signed the civil rights acts of the 1960s sighing that Democrats had lost the South for a generation. Then Richard Nixon, courtesy of Pat Buchanan, formulated a Southern Strategy to court white southern voters angered by the end of Jim Crow. Therefore Republicans are racists.

This is the point where a conservative writer typically declares: No We're Not!

But let's face it; there's no defense from the charge of racism, so let's not even try. Let us merely invoke German sociologist Georg Simmel, who wrote that while people appealed to as individuals are intelligent and evolved, in the mass they can only be appealed to in their basest instincts. That's why politics is always about race and identity and ethnicity and loot and free stuff.

So let us stipulate that all Republicans and white southerners are racists, sexists, homophobes. Then what?

Then, does it really make political sense that liberals and Democrats make such a big deal about it? Should Democrats make a point of telling conservative white southerners that they are pond scum?

Let's turn it around. Republicans are often accused of hating, or at least writing off, African Americans. A perennial op-ed topic is declaring the need for the Republican Party to conduct "outreach" to African Americans that vote 90 percent for Democrats. Ditto women and Hispanics. The moral is that a political party exists to win elections; it is political malpractice to write off any group of voters as unreachable.

So why is it OK for Democrats to put white southern voters beyond the Pale? Or white working-class voters. Or white Christian voters?

Back in 2006 the wily Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) recruited a bunch of Democratic candidates and ran them for the US Senate. He carefully chose moderates, people with military service, in order to appeal to red-state voters. In short, he decided to court white middle-class voters. He was so successful that the Dems won the Senate in 2006, increased their majority in 2008, and used those moderate votes to ram Obamacare down our throats in 2009-10.

Ahem. Maybe, Chuck, it would have been a good idea not to sacrifice those moderates as cannon fodder in the Big Push for universal health care, as you now seem to recognize. In your speech to the National Press Club on November 25, 2014 you recognized that most Americans already had health insurance and that the uninsured rarely voted. You recognized that politically, Obamacare had a lot of potential downside and precious little upside. And it's not as if HillaryCare, in 1993-94, was wildly popular.

But my basic point is this. If it's considered to be stupid for Republicans not to reach out to blacks, women and minorities, why is it not considered to be stupid for Democrats to write off the white South and stigmatize them as racists? Not to mention the white working class, the white middle class, white Christians, and white Tea Partiers?

I know that politics is the art of division, but isn't that taking division a bit too far?

In fact, why does it make sense for liberals and Democrats to keep calling anyone that doesn't agree with them racists, sexists, homophobes and bigots?

Just asking.

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