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“The Hapless And The Helpless”: Groundswell’s White Racial Panic

I was reading through David Corn’s great piece on ‘Groundswell’ which is, depending on your point of view, a working group of conservative activists and journalists working together to coordinate storylines and plan the war against RINOs and progressives or a hapless group of doofuses planning regular meetings to vent about being crapped on by more prominent Republicans. My sense is that it’s sort of a hybrid of the two.

But there’s one section that connects up with my piece yesterday about the specter of white racial panic hovering over the Republican party and how completely unprepared conservative strategists seem to be to deal with it.

Check out this passage …

Notes from a February 28 Groundswell gathering reflected both their collective sense of pessimism and desire for aggressive tactics: “We are failing the propaganda battle with minorities. Terms like, ‘GOP,’ ‘Tea Party,’ ‘Conservative’ communicate ‘racism.'” The Groundswellers proposed an alternative: “Fredrick Douglas Republican,” a phrase, the memo noted, that “changes minds.” (His name is actually spelled “Frederick Douglass.”) The meeting notes also stated that an “active radical left is dedicated to destroy [sic] those who oppose them” with “vicious and unprecedented tactics. We are in a real war; most conservatives are not prepared to fight.”

So basically perhaps the top three phrases associated with the right or the GOP or conservatism signal ‘racism’. In fact, those words themselves communicate racism. According to conservatives themselves. At least give them credit for recognizing the scope of the problem.

But note the solution: rebrand the Tea Party as ‘Frederick Douglass Republicans’. I’m not even going to get into the misspelling. But think about this, a lily-white group, driven to a significant degree by fears about the growing population of non-white voters and the cultural and political changes that’s likely to bring (okay, look, I’m being generous) and naming them the ‘Frederick Douglass Republicans’. That should work splendidly.

I can’t help but note that a couple weeks after this late February meeting was when we saw that epic racial tolerance event at CPAC when the event leader called on conservatives to call themselves “Frederick Douglass Republicans.” The whole event descended into chaos as a group “disenfranchised whites” rose up in opposition to the premise of the gathering and sidetracked the conversation into whether blacks should thank America for their ancestors’ enslavement.

I’m not saying they got the name from the ‘Groundswell’. I think it’s more just an idea – if a fabulously silly one – circulating in conservative circles. But it does give some bracing evidence of the folly of trying to rebrand a lilly-white movement (The Tea Party) which heavily overlaps with the white racial panic faction in American politics after the preeminent civil rights leader of the 19th century.

More to the point it shows just how bereft these folks are in terms of even remotely coming to grips with the changing demographic character of America.

By: Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo, July 26, 2013

July 31, 2013 - Posted by | GOP, Racism | , , , , , , ,

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