Thursday, February 7, 2013

Racial resentment and conservatism

A ton of talk since the election has been about what is wrong with the GOP and what can be done to fix it. And much of that talk has been about the party's relationship with racial minorities since they get absolutely crushed by Democrats (though not as much has been said about women, the GOP doesn't lose this group as bad as racial minorities, but being less sexist would help its cause). I read a few posts on one reason the GOP has a hard time getting, or even deciding to try and get, more racial minorities to vote for them. Here are those posts by Jamelle Bouie and Kevin Drum.

What I wanted to briefly talk about is something Kevin brings up from an email he quotes:

I'm open to hearing arguments that bigotry is not an intrinsic value of the conservative ideology (and God knows Goldberg, Lowry, Ponnuru, Douthat, Brooks, Frum and others breathlessly try to advance this argument despite actual and continuing evidence to the contrary), but that's a big sales job. But a necessary one.

And Kevin's response:

Is this "ideology"? Is it pandering? Is it pure commercialism? It's not easy to say. In the end, it's sort of a mushy blend of all those things. But I'd submit that to the extent we've truly seen an increase in racial resentment, a good part of it is due not to either pure ideology or to pure racial animus per se, but to active editorial decisions made by Fox News.

I'm willing to concede that not all of the GOP and FoxNews' behavior is motivated by pure racism. And I'm certainly willing to concede that conservatism as an ideology is not inherently rooted in racism. You can easily be for "small" gov't and not be a racist. Just as you can be for "more" gov't and be a racist. But straight up racism and racial resentment is definitely part of the equation. FoxNews and GOP leaders didn't make up these emotions and implant them into their constituents. And it's not a coincidence that the party and ideology that stands for upholding tradition attracts the racists of the US.

That's because an enormous tradition in the US has been racism, in the form of white supremacy and black slavery. Our two political parties have had a weird relationship to that tradition throughout our nation's history. But ever since the GOP decided to try and get the votes of racists in the Democratic party in the south, these feelings about race have been expressed mainly within the GOP. That's not to say there aren't racists everywhere. There are plenty of racists in the Democratic party and outside of the south. And there are plenty of non-racists in the GOP and in the south. But the point is, when your party commits to regaining or sustaining the traditional values the US has held, you will inevitably stir up racist sentiments because racism was an inherent part of our traditional values.

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