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Friday, December 20, 2002

Democratic Racism?-Let me get in my licks on this Marshall-Rufinni donnybrook. Marshall posted a piece on Clinton's bashing the GOP for racist campaigning both past and present, Rufinni retorted with a litany of interracial problems inside the Democratic party, then Marshall laid down return fire this morning, pointing out the dated nature of some of Ruffini's examples. First of all, I'd think Marshall would have stumbled across the word statist before; he's either less well read than I think he is or he's faking ignorance. Let's refresh his memory-from my office copy of Webster’s New World Dictionary, here's the definition of statism-"the doctrine or practice of vesting economic control, economic planning, etc., in a centralized state government." It covers the economic portion of socialist/liberal politics, but many right-wing governments can be statists as well, like many Latin American countries or the Parti Quebecois. The right wing of the Blogosphere is a heavy user of the word to denote policies that favor government intervention To the extent that Democrats want economic control in Washington, they're statists. Marshall might thing Ruffini is overstating his interventionist nature, but that's the nature of the accusation. Now, on to the substance of the fight between arguably the best conservative political-specialist blogger and the best liberal political-specialist blogger. In many big cities that are about 30-40% black, the Democratic primary often breaks down on racial lines. Both sides will play racial cards in many cases, where whites might be uncomfortable about a black activist candidate and blacks want to get a say and get one of their guys in City Hall. Sometimes you can get a black technocrat that can cross these racial lines, but the politics in cities like Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York will often get testy along racial lines. It might be more of a US-Mexico testy rather than US-Iraq testy, a muted form of racial friction, but it exists nonetheless. Are there more blue-collar Democrat Slats Grobniks that aren't comfortable voting for black candidates than there are GOP-leaning Bubbas, as Ruffini suggests? It'd be within the margin of error. The factory rats of Southie, Chicago or Royal Oak are Democrats but not exactly progressive on racial or ethnic matters. Does that mean the GOP gets a free ride on racial issues. Nope. They still have to show that the mean it when they want a color-blind society. Blacks who want to hang onto bigger government and positive-discrimination policies will tend to vote Democratic even if they think the GOP candidate is a color-blind saint unless they can be convinced that a free-market, color-blind system works better for them. However, the battle ground on the racial issues is to show swing non-black voters that the GOP isn't a bunch of rednecks. Does that mean that the Democrats are better on racial issues than the Republicans? Once you factor out the Dixiecrats, who were a product of another era, the Democrats were better in the 70s and 80s. Republicans who were honestly in favor of federalism and reluctant to get the federal government overly involved, got painted with the "states rights" label, which was a synonym for pro-segregation in the 40s-60s. For the last decade or so, the parties are about even. The Republicans are reluctant to have the federal government take over state and private functions when fighting racism and the Democrats are focused on various forms of positive discrimination. In voting rights issues, the Republican focus on checking for proper identification of new (often minority) voters (prompting screams of "disenfranchisement") is offset by a calculated laxity in wanting to check ID of new voters in the Democrats. There's about as much pro-black bias in the Democrats as there anti-black bias in the GOP. Patrick-lay off Robert Byrd, the segregationist heritage of southern Democrats (almost all those classic bigots were Democrats back then) and Rizzo. Josh-lay off the Southern Strategy of the '70s and the ex-Dixiecrats in the GOP. Let's try to judge the parties on their modern merits.

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