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Saturday, December 14, 2002

The GOP and Racism-Part IV-The Bigot Vote-I've stumbled into The Daily Kos this week via Instapundit; his coverage has an interesting mix of thoughtful commentary from the left side of the aisle with just enough questionable digs at the right to make it frustrating. However, he could probably say the same about me in reverse. Here's part of his Friday night close on l'affair Lott.
This has been a good week for Democrats, but a bad week for our country. We have learned that the leadership of our ruling party is beholden to some of the worst elements of our society. It is uplifting that many people, of all ideological stripes, have spoken against Lott and what he stands for. But he remains in power, and that is a blight on us all.
I'm going to disagree with Kos here. This isn't a bad week for our country, even if this week has given Lott, and conservatives secondarily, a black eye. It is a good week in that our leaders have almost unanimously come forward to denounce bigotry and forced segregation. You had the president come forward to say "Every day that our nation was segregated was a day that America was unfaithful to our founding ideals[.]" To think that this is a good week would be to assume that the forces of bigotry had a good week. Is the GOP beholden to bigots, as Kos suggests? To the extent that the GOP is opposed to positive discrimination for blacks and favoring a more color-blind approach to fighting discrimination, they wind up getting the bigot vote, as the Republican position is more appealing to them. Would the Democrats have the Senate without the bigot vote? Probably. However, I could rattle off "some of the worst elements of our society" that vote Democratic for the party's policies. Democrats might get the child pornography vote, the pedophile vote and the prostitute vote based on their policies; not that the Democrats support all of the above but that their policies would indirectly aid them. Suggesting that "The Democrat Party is beholden to child pornographers, pedophiles, prostitute and pimps" would be just as over the top as Kos' line that the GOP is beholden to bigots. Lott's sins are in being too cozy with bigots and not fully recognizing the evil of it. The good guys in the GOP are starting to do something about that.
I can respect libertarian Republicans. I believe strongly that government can and does play a powerful role in improving the lives of people. That's why I am a Democrat. But libertarianism is an intellectual honest philosophy, and one that I can respect. I'll never belittle a conservative making honest libertarian arguments. It's the Lotts of the world that make me hate Republicans. And, like it or not, they are a powerful (and perhaps dominant) force in the GOP. That I can't respect. Bigotry and religious self-rightousness shouldn't be the political opposites to the Democratic Party. It would be nice if the GOP just argued (honestly) for smaller government and pro-corporate policies. Those can be honorable concepts (despite my disagreement with them).
As much as my conservative buddies will cringe to hear me say this, I like that first paragraph, with the exceptions that my faith in government isn't quite as strong as Kos' and that I'd say "That's one of the reasons I'm not a libertarian" rather than "That's why I am a Democrat" The second paragraph has a germ of truth as well; the redneck wing of the GOP makes quite a few people (including myself) uncomfortable joining up. However, I think Kos is lumping all religious conservatives into the redneck camp. He creates a good straw man-"Bigotry and religious self-rightousness shouldn't be the political opposites to the Democratic Party." I agree with that statement, and everyone in my Augustinian Posse would most likely agree as well. No one will come out in favor of self-rightousness. However, Kos implies that this is what the GOP stands for; Democrats would like to run against bigotry and self-righteousness. Liberals commonly use the phrase self-righteous to blast the religious right, but if you look at the word, it's the left that is just as likely (at least) to be self-righteous, to be right with ones self. The religious conservatives that they blast are trying (in theory) to get right with God, not themselves, thus the addition of the prefix self- brings a blanket judgement upon people of faith in the GOP. If you want to argue for abortion rights, for a sex-education policy that is neutral towards promiscuity, for same-sex marriages, against school vouchers and for aggressive euthanasia polices (to name a few policies), feel free to do so. However, to advance that agenda under the flag of calling your foes "self-righteous" isn't overly honorable. Another things that makes the "Bigotry and religious self-righteousness" statement toxic is it indirectly labels religious conservatives as bigots. I don't know if there is any data to back this up, but I find people in evangelical churches to be less bigoted when compared to their non-church-going peers. The liberals would like to conjure up the image of a Baptist deacon Klansman; the reality (at least in my areas of Michigan, Ohio and Florida) seem to be just the opposite, as people take seriously that everyone's a child of God and that racism is a sin. Churches are still segregated, but that's not due to blacks not being welcomed into majority-white churches where I've been. There are some churches where a big chunk of bigotry that are still around; one pastor friend of my sister got run out of a Assemblies of God pastorate when he wanted to reach out to the black part of that southern town and the redneck powers-that-be in the church didn't like it. However, such bigotry is fading. For instance, the Church of God-Anderson (sponsor of Warner Southern) is in the process of merging separate black and white state offices in the South. The fact that there still are two racially-split organizations is embarrassing to right-minded CoG folks; dividing up power between the two existing sets of officers in a new merged system is more the hold-up than racism .

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