Wednesday, October 27, 2004

This about sums it up

Frankly, I'm tired of many in the media and their discussions of the African-American vote percentage going for Democrats. How do we see them so often discuss it?

"Democrats have a strangle-hold on blacks"
"Democrat's would not win but for the black vote"

Ad infinitum. It's patronizing. There is a basic reason that the African-American community votes overwhelmingly for the Democrats. It's not because of "force" or "pandering" which is both untrue and racist in its description. Here's a newsflash white people of the media, an African-American voter is just as capable of exercising rationality as you are. The thing is, in practice, your average person, including your average black person applies that rationality a lot better than a Robert Novak does.

African Americans vote overwhelmingly Democratic not only because the party has more progressive policies both economically and socially, but also because the Republican Party consistently shows that not only has it welcomed the old dixiecrats into the party, it has gone out of its way to give them the power to run the damn Party. Why on earth would an African-American vote for the party that praises Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms?

It's laughable to see some pasty, coiffed, bobblehead on CNN talk about Bush getting 18% of the African-American vote in some poll like its fucking impressive and shows a trend. First, the margin of error on that subset of a poll is probably plus or minus 7 percentage points because it is so small. Second, even under the best case scenario, that is still fucking wretched. Third, Hell will freeze over before George Bush gets 18% of the African-American vote. Nobody ever points out that George Bush is only getting 52% of the WHITE vote and John Kerry is getting 44%. Because that would seem silly and bigoted, but we can talk about African Americans like they are some lesser form of voting subgroup. The implied racism of it all makes me want to barf.

Learn some damn history, Bush will be lucky to crack double-digits among African-American voters and even the GOP knows it. You want to know why Bush managed to have himself lurched to the Urban League Convention? Because he knew their members would not laugh at him or be unduly hostile, like the NAACP would (with good reason) and because it would appeal to moderate whites. He didn't go there to get African-American votes, he went there to try to convince white moderates that he is not a bigot. THAT is the pandering the GOP does, not that "we like black people", simply that "vote for us because we are not out buring a cross".

That is it, plain and simple.

The last Republican to try to win over the African American vote was Jack Kemp -- he did well in 1988 with the base didn't he? But whenever Bush I needed to look like he was not desirous of surpressing blacks, he trotted out Kemp or pointed to a picture of Colin Powell. His son, as most Republicans, does the same thing.


With Election Day almost upon us, it's not clear whether President Bush is running a campaign or plotting a coup d'etat. By all accounts, Republicans are spending these last precious days devoting nearly as much energy to suppressing the Democratic vote as they are to mobilizing their own.

Time was when Republicans were at least embarrassed by their efforts to keep African Americans from the polls. Republican consultant Ed Rollins was all but drummed out of the profession after his efforts to pay black ministers to keep their congregants from voting in a 1993 New Jersey election came to light.

For George W. Bush, Karl Rove and their legion of genteel thugs, however, universal suffrage is just one more musty liberal ideal that threatens conservative rule. Today's Republicans have elevated vote suppression from a dirty secret to a public norm.

In Ohio, Republicans have recruited 3,600 poll monitors and assigned them disproportionately to such heavily black areas as inner-city Cleveland, where Democratic "527" groups have registered many tens of thousands of new voters. "The organized left's efforts to, quote unquote, register voters -- I call them ringers -- have created these problems" of potential massive vote fraud, Cuyahoga County Republican Chairman James P. Trakas recently told the New York Times.

Let's pass over the implication that a registration drive waged by a liberal group is inherently fraud-ridden, and look instead at that word "ringers."

Registration in Ohio is nonpartisan, but independent analysts estimate that roughly 400,000 new Democrats have been added to the rolls this year. Who does Trakas think they are? Have tens of thousands of African Americans been sneaking over the state lines from Pittsburgh and Detroit to vote in Cleveland -- thus putting their own battleground states more at risk of a Republican victory? Is Shaker Heights suddenly filled with Parisians affecting American argot? Or are the Republicans simply terrified that a record number of minority voters will go to the polls next Tuesday? Have they decided to do anything to stop them -- up to and including threatening to criminalize Voting While Black in a Battleground State?

This is civic life in the age of George W. Bush, in which politics has become a continuation of civil war by other means. In Bush's America, there's a war on -- against a foreign enemy so evil that we can ignore the Geneva Conventions, against domestic liberals so insidious that we can ignore democratic norms. Only bleeding hearts with a pre-Sept. 11 mind-set still believe in voting rights.

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