Thursday, April 24, 2008

Postracial politics

It’s always amusing to observe the subliminal racism of liberals. This takes various forms. One form is racial tokenism. They will promote someone just because he’s a minority, even if he’s a hack. But there’s a catch. A minority must swear allegiance to white liberal values.

White liberals like a black or brown candidate as long as he’s a white liberal on the inside. But if the minority is Janice Rogers Brown or Miguel Estrada, that’s unacceptable. Uppity ethnic conservatives are sent to the back of the bus.

Another form is the way in which the liberal establishment has touted Obama as a postracial candidate. A candidate who transcends race.

If you think about that for a moment, it’s really very odd. For example, have you ever heard of a white man who ran as a postracial candidate?

What about Jewish candidates? How many Jewish-Americans ever ran as post-Jewish candidates? How many women run as post-gender candidates?

What does it mean to be a postracial candidate? Why must a candidate sublimate his race?

The first thing I notice is the way this falls along party lines. And, ironically, it’s not Republicans or right-wingers who make postracial identity a selling point.

To take a few examples that spring to mind: back in 1996, many Republicans were urging Colin Powell to run for president. His name was floated because he enjoyed nation-wide appeal. Yet I don’t recall anyone advertising Powell as a postracial candidate.

J. C. Watts was a successful Republican Congressman. This is despite the fact that Oklahoma is only about 8% black. Yet Watts didn’t get elected and reelected by running as a postracial candidate.

Some pundits were hoping that Condi Rice would run for president, on the GOP ticket. Yet they didn’t package her as a postracial candidate.

Recently, Bobby Jindal sailed to victory as governor of Louisiana. But he didn’t run as a postracial candidate, did he? And it’s not as if the East-Indian vote propelled him to victory. Unless I’m mistaken, that’s not a major voting block in Louisiana.

Did Michelle Malkin garner her rightwing fan base by positioning herself as a postracial blogress?

Why is it that Democrats need to “transcend race” to broaden their appeal?

I think it goes to several issues:

i) Democrat politics is all about sowing seeds of division, then reaping the harvest. Feminists promote women’s rights. Homosexuals promote gay rights. Black liberals promote black rights.

And that’s a successful strategy for local candidates who pander to specific constituencies. But if you come asking for my vote, I want to know what you will do for me. Are you acting in my interests? Or do you only care about your special interest group? Why would I vote for a representative who isn’t representative of my convictions or concerns?

ii) Moreover, black liberals try to guilt-trip white voters. Cashing in on racial resentment.

And the problem with that strategy is that it cuts both ways. Resentment reciprocates resentment. A lot of white voters don’t suffer from white guilt. And they don’t appreciate candidates who try to saddle them with past grievances for which they bear no personal responsibility.

iii) Furthermore, it’s a very dated paradigm. Blacks and whites aren’t the only racial group in America. That’s one reason Obama hasn’t had much traction with Latinos.

(i)-(ii) are why Obama’s close association with Jeremiah Wright may be so crippling in a general election. It reminds many voters of what they dislike about black liberals. They’d almost forgotten—until Jeremiah Wright surfaced.

iv) Finally, it depends on how you made your reputation. Many so-called civil rights leaders like Sharpton, Jackson, and Julian Bond have never held down a real job. They’re coasting on ascribed status. Like celebrities who are famous for being famous. The Paris Hilton of the civil rights movement. Obama himself is a civil rights activist. Civil rights attorney.

There would be a place for that if we were living under Jim Crow. But that’s ancient history. The legal barriers are long gone. Indeed, government has overcompensated for past injustices.

Compare this to some of the Republican minorities I mentioned. Colin Powell made his reputation as a soldier. Americans respect that. J. C. Watts made his reputation as a football player. Americans respect that. What is more, he was also a pastor—which comes in handy when you’re running for public office in the Bible belt.

Condi Rice is a very talented and accomplished woman. Bobby Jindal is a very bright, capable, can-do guy with a sterling conservative credentials.

These are men and women who made a name for themselves through personal achievement. Hard work. Americans respect that.

They didn’t have to downplay their ethnicity because their public persona was never defined by their ethnicity. It’s part of who they are, but it’s not all they are. They don’t need to submerge their racial identity to be acceptable. Race isn’t setting the agenda. Their ethnicity isn’t a threat to your ethnicity or mine. It's complementary rather than competitive.

1 comment:

  1. It’s always amusing to observe the subliminal racism of liberals. This takes various forms. One form is racial tokenism. They will promote someone just because he’s a minority, even if he’s a hack. But there’s a catch. A minority must swear allegiance to white liberal values.

    It's equally amusing to watch how they call Obama the candidate of "change." Really? Do they believe in change? What sort of change do they have in mind?

    Folks should look at the number of long-term, professional polticians supporting Obama, some of whom have been in office a decade or more. Let's take Ted Kennedy in the Senate and Mel Watt from NC in the House. If these two men really believed in change, they wouldn't run for re-election.