“They’ll Be Waiting A Long Time”: The Illusory Conservative Campaign For The “Right” Minority Voters
I’ve been pretty harsh about the racial aspects of Team Chris McDaniel’s argument that the MS GOP SEN runoff was “stolen” from him. But let’s bend over backwards to be fair and adopt Dave Weigel’s interpretation of what hyper-conservatives mean when they complain about the “wrong kind” of appeals to African-Americans:
The Tea Party, a movement that helped elect Allen West to Congress and helped make Herman Cain—Herman Cain!—a presidential contender, and wants to elect Mia Love to Congress in Utah, believes that conservatives can win black votes while remaining conservative. When West talks about escaping “the liberal plantation,” that’s what he means. The “racist” party is the one that wins black votes by promising largesse, and the colorblind party aims to win them by talking free markets and social values.
Taking this seriously, of course, means ignoring the thousands of dog whistles blown during the endless Tea Party efforts to demonize “looters” and “food stamps” and “voter fraud”–and of course, the first African-American president. There’s no binary choice on the table either to offer minority voters “largesse” or to attack their integrity, work ethic, and even patriotism for participating in federal programs when they qualify for them. The whole “plantation” meme beloved particularly of African-American conservatives is an ongoing insult bordering on a blood libel, which is why you don’t find many African-Americans supporting Allen West or Herman Cain.
But intentions aside, if conservatives are waiting for the “right” kind of Republican appeal to attract the “right” kind of minority voters, they’ll be waiting a long time. The simple fact is that the already-meager Republican share of the minority vote has been steadily sliding since the GOP began its latest lurch to the Right. George W. Bush won 11% of the African-American vote and 44% of the Latino vote in 2004. In 2008 John McCain won 4% of the African-American vote and 31% of the Latino vote, and in 2012 Mitt Romney won 6% of the African-American vote and 27% of the Latino vote. That’s a pretty calamitous decline, and any conservative unwilling to admit that endless GOP attacks on “redistribution” and “illegal immigrants” and “welfare” has nothing to do with that is either dishonest or smoking crack.
Check out the language in this tweet over the weekend from McDaniel campaign manager (and state legislator) Melanie Sojourner, made in the course of saying she’d never endorse the “race-baiting” Thad Cochran:
Throughout my campaign and since I’ve repeatedly made comments about how I felt the Republican Party was doing itself a disservice by not reaching out to conservative African-Americans. Where I’m from, in rural Mississippi, I grew up knowing lots a [sic] God-fearing, hard-working, independent conservative minded African-American family’s [sic]. On the McDaniel campaign we had two young men from just such family’s on our staff.
Sojourner’s idea of “outreach” seems to be to wait for minority voters to develop sufficient character to vote for the GOP exactly as it finds it today. That presumably means accepting conservatives have been right all along–dating back to Jim Crow–about the evil nature of the Welfare State and a federal government large and strong enough to support civil rights laws.
Do people like this really believe in their heart of hearts they’re being “color-blind?” I cannot peer into their souls, but it’s no more or less plausible than the constant complaints from southern white conservatives I heard growing up that segregation was good for both races. Lord knows anything’s better for African-Americans than being consigned to the plantation of dependence on Washington for help in feeding one’s kids and gaining access to health care and keeping open threadbare public schools and securing the right to vote. Perhaps if the GOP becomes even more conservative the great minority voting breakthrough will finally occur.
By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, July 8, 2014
When Allen West was defeated in the 2012 election and Tim Scott was appointed to serve out the term of retiring South Carolina senator Jim DeMint, that left Republicans back where they had usually been in the past, with not a single black Republican in the House of Representatives. This is something they aren’t particularly pleased about, which is why in the coming year you’re going to be hearing a lot about Mia Love, a candidate from Utah’s 4th district. Barring some shocking scandal, come November she’ll be bringing that number from zero up to one, and she’s going to become a right-wing celebrity. Mia Love is the Republicans’ New Black Friend.
You may remember Love from the 2012 Republican convention, where she gave a not-particularly-memorable speech. She couldn’t beat Jim Matheson, the conservative Democrat who represented the district, despite the fact that Mitt Romney won there by a 37-point margin. But now Matheson has just announced that he’s retiring, which makes Love’s election in what was supposed to be a rematch all but certain. So get ready: Mia Love is going to be the most famous Republican House candidate in the country. She’ll be on Fox News more often than Sean Hannity. She’ll be touted by all the conservative radio hosts. I’m betting they’ll put her on the cover of National Review. Because that’ll show those liberals.
I guess the question conservatives might ask is, “What’s wrong with that?” Lots of politicians are elevated by their party because of something that their personal story is supposed to represent. But the question is, what exactly does Mia Love represent for the Republican party? It’s not like she’s the first of a coming wave of black Republican leaders, and certainly not female black Republican leaders. That isn’t going to happen. It’s not like she is a harbinger of a change in the Republican approach toward African-Americans and other minority groups. Maybe she’ll turn out to be some spectacular talent who will rise to untold heights, but she hasn’t yet shown that she’s that, either.
Conservatives might also say, “Didn’t liberals love Barack Obama because he was black?” It’s true that Obama’s race was part of his appeal to the left. The difference is, first, that it was only part of it, while you could probably ask a hundred Republicans what they know about Mia Love and 99 of them would only be able to tell you one thing. But more importantly, in 2008 the elevation of an African-American presidential candidate was a genuine reflection of liberal values and history. Liberals are the ones who have always advocated for civil rights and continue to do so. Their party is the multicultural, multi-ethnic, multiracial one. They did want Obama’s nomination to say something about themselves, but it was something true. What do conservatives want Love’s election to say about them?
I suppose it’s possible that blacks (and members of other minority groups, too) will see all the attention Love will get and say, “Hmm, maybe those Republicans are changing.” Or they might think just the opposite, that they’re trying way too hard with her, and its a kind of tokenism that only reinforces their basic problem. That being said, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with the GOP making Mia Love a star. There are black female conservatives out there—not many, but some. It’s only questionable if they try to use her election as evidence for an assertion that is otherwise without support, like “We’re not just the party of white people.” When nearly nine in ten of your voters are white, you are. Even if you elect one black Republican from Utah.
By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, December 20, 2013
“No, Chris Lane Is Not Trayvon Martin”: Right Wing Media Prefers To Hide Behind A Veil Of Intentional Ignorance
The white conservative media believes it has its own Trayvon Martin in the case of Chris Lane, an Australian baseball player who was killed in Oklahoma, where he had been studying, by three black teenagers in an apparently random act of violence (note: there’s actually some question as to the race of one of the three teens, the driver, who faces lesser charges).
Rush Limbaugh called it “Trayvon Martin in reverse, only worse.” The Drudge Report, where black-on-white crime always gets top billing, has been prominently featuring news about the case for several days. Former Tea Party congressman Allen West weighed in, tweeting, “3 black teens shoot white jogger. Who will POTUS identify w/this time?”
Jesse Jackson tried to extend an olive branch, tweeting that he was “Praying for the family of Chris Lane.” But armed with that, Fox News is now demanding that President Obama weigh in, just as he did for Martin’s case. “I thought it was at least good of Jesse Jackson to step up,” Fox and Friends host Brian Kilmeade said today. “I haven’t heard anything from Al Sharpton [or the White House],” he added. His colleagues agreed.
(For what it’s worth, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest told reporters yesterday that he wasn’t familiar with the case.)
As the right sees it, the president’s silence confirms the narrative shared by everyone from Glenn Beck to Allen West to Maine Gov. Paul LePage to Sean Hannity — that Obama is racist against white people, and that the media is, too, or at least duped into doing the bidding of allegedly racist black leaders like Sharpton, or something.
It’s incredible that in 2013 we’re really arguing about this, but from Henry Louis Gates to Travyon Martin — when the conservative media made George Zimmerman the Real Victim of the supposed anti-white lynch mob — we should expect nothing else. And it’s equally striking, yet also not particularly surprising, that Fox and Limbaugh and the rest really don’t seem to comprehend why the Trayvon Martin case became a thing.
It’s not that difficult to understand so we’ll spell it out: It was not only that a light-skinned Zimmerman killed an unarmed black teenager — but also that police didn’t do anything about it. The killing was horribly tragic, as is Lane’s senseless murder, but if Zimmerman had actually been arrested for the shooting, the sad reality is that far fewer Americans would know his name. But that’s not what happened. Instead, police let Zimmerman go under Florida’s “stand your ground” law. It smacked of institutional, state-sponsored racial favoritism of the worst kind. It was only after public outcry that state prosecutors took over the case and pressed charges. Some could argue that Zimmerman didn’t need to be convicted for justice to be done, but he did need to stand trial.
Likewise with Henry Louis Gates, the famed black professor who was arrested while he was trying to get into his own home in Cambridge, Mass., after he misplaced his keys. That’s not how police are supposed to operate, and that’s why Obama weighed in.
Lane’s murder is an entirely different matter. It’s disgusting, but the police did their job. They arrested three suspects, and vowed to try to throw the book at them. That’s how it’s supposed to go. Murder is sadly quotidian in a gun-soaked America, and this is, sadly, another, if particularly senseless, one.
If you want to actually understand race relations in this country, you need to understand the difference between these cases. But the right prefers to live behind a veil of intentional ignorance where the only kind of racism that exists today is black people disliking white people.
Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon, August 22, 2013
Note to Mitt Romney: This is what happens when you run for president on the back of Fox News and embrace the dark anti-Obama conspiracies that fuel the right-wing media.
On Monday, the Republican nominee was forced to hold a rare, late-night press availibility to respond to Mother Jones’ report on a video of Romney taken surreptitiously at a closed-door Florida campaign fundraiser in May where the candidate tells donors that “there are 47 percent who are with [President Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”
The notion that Obama voters are lazy victims who rely on the government for sustenance from birth to death represents Romney’s open embrace of Fox News and the same insulting allegation that it, along with other right-wing talkers, has been making for the last four years. Here, the Republican’s long-standing caricature of the lazy welfare recipient gets dramatically expanded to include tens of millions of Americans who vote Democratic and who apparently worship big government and disdain hard work.
The sweeping generalization Romney uses to denigrate so many voters, and the fact he did it behind closed doors while speaking to wealthy donors, is what turned the comments into a significant campaign news event. Writing off nearly half the electorate as selfish dependents who refuse to take responsibilities for their own lives isn’t usually how White House candidates frame their campaigns.
What’s telling though is how, once again, the fingerprints of Fox News and the right-wing media are all over the Romney campaign and its latest misstep.
Fact: Fox and friends have been railing for years about how Obama is purposefully making more people dependent on the government (an “entitlement state“) so he can turn that dependency into votes. Obama, according to the fevered rhetoric from the far-right swamp, wants to radically extend the reach of the government in an effort to extract voter loyalty. “He’d rather you be a slave and be economically dependent upon him,” is how Fox favorite Rep. Allen West (R-FL) put it.
Remember Glenn Beck’s unhinged comparison to Obama as drug-dealer-in-chief?
If he’s not a socialist, if he’s not a Marxist, then he must be a heroin dealer. I believe our new president is pushing a much more powerful version of heroin, and he is getting people strung out.
Meanwhile, discussing welfare work requirement reform this summer (and while completely misrepresenting the changes the Obama administration implemented at the behest of Republican governors), Fox contributor Laura Ingraham claimed the changes were designed to be a “push for election turnout.” Explained Ingraham: “Give more free stuff to people and hope that they come to the polls.”
And of course Rush Limbaugh has been relentlessly promoting the unsavory talking point, claiming the Democratic president doesn’t “want people leaving the welfare rolls” because “those are voters that are getting away.”
All of this strange right-wing media rhetoric has apparently soaked in and has been embraced by the Romney campaign. In fact, just last week, an unnamed Romney adviser complained to National Review that the reason the media are allegedly rooting for Obama is because “the more Washington DC controls our economy, the more important inside-the-beltway publications are and the more money they make.”
Again, with this twisted notion that the (socialist!) Obama administration is trying to control people’s lives by expanding the size of government, and that Americans who receive government services automatically support Democrats. (No unemployment recipient has ever voted Republican?) Indeed, the Atlantic mapped out where Romney’s 47 percent of no-income-tax-paying voters live, and it turns out “those people are disproportionately in red states — that is, states that tend to vote Republican.”
This is the kind of fringe, conspiratorial rhetoric that campaigns usually leave to the periphery. And for good reason. But Mitt Romney is the Fox News candidate and apparently that means echoing every dark, incoherent attack that the talk channel can conjure up.
By: Eric Boehlert, Media Matters, September 18, 2012
Today Mitt Romney is experiencing another vicissitude of a campaign that requires a uniformly strong performance across a large landscape of battleground states: it can bring you into close proximity to crazy people in your party. In Iowa, he’s all snuggled up to Rep. Steve King:
At a rally in the most conservative county in Iowa, Mitt Romney enthusiastically endorsed conservative lightning rod Rep. Steve King — prompting the Obama campaign to renew its claim that the Republican supports an extreme social agenda.
“I’m looking here at Steve King,” Romney declared about halfway through his speech. “He needs to be your Congressman again. I want him as my partner in Washington!”
As Team Obama quickly pointed out, King has recently declared himself “open” to Todd Akin’s views about women not being able to conceive if subjected to “legitimate rape,” and has a vast record of extremism on many subjects, particularly immigration and laws against cruelty to animals. King is also a Very Big Dog in Iowa right-wing circles, and is actually in a rare competitive race against Christie Vilsack, so Mitt does not have the luxury of giving him a wide berth. But Democrats will have great sport identifying the two men in parts of Iowa—not to mention other states—where comparing immigrants to dogs while also voting against restrictions on dog-fighting don’t go over so well.
But hey, it gets better! At some point Mitt will almost certainly get to campaign in Florida with Allen West and in North Carolina with Virginia Foxx!
By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, September 7, 2012