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Thursday, September 19, 2002

Kirk's Race Card-One of the reasons that black candidates rarely do well in statewide elections is that the segregated "majority-minority" districts that most black congressmen or state reps/senators represent lend themselves to the politics of victimization and of needing big government. This creates a very liberal cadre of black politicians, but such politics rarely sells to a broader populace. Black candidates that do well on a statewide basis are ones that transcend that type of politics and address problems outside of the 'hood. In the last decade or so, we've started to see a crop of big city black mayors who have focused on good management rather than the politics of victimization. At first, that's how Ron Kirk seemed to be marketing himself, as one of those googoo mayors that whites don't have to be afraid of. However, the recent flap on minorities in the military might put a damper on that image-here's part of a Houston Chronicle article liked to by Patrick Ruffini.
"Look who would be doing the fighting," he said following a joint rally with Tony Sanchez, the Democratic candidate for governor. "They're disproportionately ethnic, they're disproportionately minority." Kirk said that if the children of Cornyn's wealthy friends and acquaintances were destined to be on the front lines, "he would be just as deliberative as the rest of us."
Kirk not only plays the race card, he plays the ethnicity card (cozying up to Latinos) and the class card. That is a Jacksonesque trifecta that is also Jacksonesque in its hubris, that the country clubbers wouldn't send their kids to war but that homies and wetbacks are expendable. Let's look at the Kirk hypothesis and see if there are any good alternatives. Yes, we have more minorities in the military. Part of that is that the military is a couple of decades ahead of the rest of the country in accepting and promoting minorities. The military was doing in the 50s what the rest of the country was doing in the 70s. The military had a black CEO over a decade ago; how many Fortune 500 companies can say the same? If I remember correctly, the military's about 1/3 minority as opposed to the 1/5 of the general population. Also, the modestly-paying military jobs appeal more to blue-collar kids than white-collar ones, who can make more money with a professional career; thus the children of well-off parents will be less likely to join an all-volunteer military than the children of lesser-off parents. Would you propose a quota system, insisting that the military be 75% European-Anglo if the population is 75% European-Anglo, giving preferential hiring to white Anglos in order to balance the system? The only way I can think of to do this is to (1) go to a draft without any deferments and (2) have a strict quota system on hiring officers so that a proper percentage of white Anglos and a proper percentage of officers, including sergeants, of rich parents were hired. If Kirk wants to propose that, fine. It would hurt the black and Latino community, blocking good jobs that they presently seek, and disrupt the lives of the college-bound as well. It won't help anyone that I can see, unless having a military that has the "right" ratio of socioeconomic niches is our primary goal. I don't think Kirk wants to propose that. If he does, I will give him a heartfelt apology once I pick my jaw up off the floor. However, he seems to be playing all the liberal group cards in order to make John Cornyn into the rich fat cat who doesn't care about people of color or "working people." That's the kind of politics that prevents blacks from winning statewide and that's the stoopid move that may well keep Kirk from winning statewide.

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