Monday, January 27, 2003

The Anti-WASP Party-Josh Marshall has this thought on the Democrats
In the January 25th issue of The Economist, in article on Republican 'outreach' to minorities, the author notes that "the Democrats will fight like hell to hold on to minority voters, who are the only people saving the party from oblivion." ...Even if it's not meant this way, I think the obvious subtext is that the Democratic party can't come close to winning elections in the white electorate and has to make up the margin with minority votes. I don't want to press the point too far. But I can't help feeling like the idea here is that minority votes are in some sense, well, how else to put it?, second-class votes. It's as though a party's political viability and health are best judged by how it fares in the white electorate.
Yes, Josh, it is being judged that way, not necessarily that the Republicans are being racist but that the white, largely secular, liberals need to throw ethnic groups some political bones in order to patch together an anti-Anglospherian majority. For more than a century, the Democratic Party has been the party of the immigrant. A Republican rant of the 1880s labeled the opposition the party of "Rum, Romanism and Rebellion." It's not just a post-WWII thing, for there has been an undercurrent for at least 125 years of the GOP being the WASP party and the Democrats being the non-WASP party. However, the last 50 years have seen two things happen: Democrats have added blacks to their constituency (prior to WWII, blacks were largely Republicans due to Lincoln and to the Democrats being the party of Jim Crow) and the non-WASP party morphed into the anti-WASP party. The Democrats' policies of centralization, collectivization and secularization run counter to the individualism, respect for hard work and generic Biblical morality of the transplanted Northern European culture that is the core of American ethos. I keep coming back to that word "Anglospherian" which seems to encapsulate that ethic as a better word than WASP, for it isn't dependant on skin tone; Chinese and Korean immigrants seem to have a "Confucian work ethic" to match the native "Protestant work ethic." It isn't dependent on being a Christian, either The majority culture doesn't demand that they eat American food or go to their church, but does expect that they pick up English, work hard, respect the laws and basic Ten Commandment morality, which is not that far away from Muslim or Buddhist morality. As time goes by, the immigrants start to blend their culture with the general American culture and American culture will adopt a few good things from their culture; after two generations, they're more or less part of the broader culture. I got a chuckle when my Cameroonian friends commented on discovering their new favorite American food-spaghetti. It's hard to point out this culture clash without sounding demeaning to immigrants from other areas or to sound ethnocentric. However, the Democrats seem to want to move away from that Anglospherian paradigm. They don't value individual work as much as collective work. They don't value the basic Ten Commandment morality as much as the average citizen does. They seem to be less interested in assimilation. To this extent, the Democrats aren't representative of the larger culture and need to get ethnic minorities, special interests and dissidents from the cultural paradigm to patch together a majority.

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