Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How big an issue will race be in 2016?

By Richard Barry

Ed Kilgore at the Washington Monthly asks a speculative though interesting question about whether the recent "urban unrest" or "racial tensions" or whatever we want to call it in places like Ferguson and Baltimore might be seized on by a GOP presidential hopeful "seeking to establish his True Conservative street cred." He asks if such a candidate "might see himself as the next Great White Hope and openly promote a revolt against all this bushwa about police brutality and racial profiling—and for that matter, the criminal justice reform some other GOP candidates have already been cautiously talking about."

For those old enough to remember, Kilgore reminds us of the "toxic politics" of the "Riot Era" of the 1960s suggesting that the “white backlash that fed the careers of Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, George Wallace, and Ronald Reagan—might return as well, particularly given the fertile soil already prepared by six-plus years of conservative demonization of the country’s first African-American president."

Kilgore states that he sees no evidence this option is being considered by any candidate or potential candidate, but sees it as a possibility.

I'd say.

Sadly, and fifty years after the long, hot summer, I could easily imagine an enterprising GOP strategist seizing on the idea of courting primary voters by appealing to a racism that never seems to completely go away. If such a candidate were to make it to the general election (which I hope would be unlikely), such a strategy could also be very effective with certain constituencies that might otherwise be inclined to vote Democratic.

Perhaps the events that have occurred so far aren't enough to make this a top-of-mind issue across the country, but it bears watching.

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  • Great to see you guys pumping out the posts! The Reaction is a treasure, although I'm not exactly neutral. Also, rss is pretty cool, I am finding out only about two decades late. But that's why I'm able to keep up with you guys now.

    I think most of the middle class appeal of the Republican Party is racist. It is all about pitting the "good people" against the "bad people." It turns out that those in the "good" group actually get more welfare, but they are told they are the poor oppressed tax payer. The question is just how much the major Republican candidates want to push this.

    I'm not sure that 1968 was really about riots, however. Eric Alterman has been arguing for some time that the real thing that pushed white working class voters away from the Democratic Party was the tendency for the party to throw the solution on the working class while allowing the upper class to get away with doing nothing. At that time, busing was the big issue. And in retrospect, that was a flawed strategy as we find we are as segregated as ever. Maybe spending some money would have been a good idea?

    But I wouldn't be surprised by any level of Republican vileness.

    By Blogger Frank Moraes, at 4:07 PM  

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