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May 11, 2008

On "Race-Baiting"

-- by Dave Johnson

People are saying that Hillary is "race-baiting" because she mentioned "blue-collar whites." Save the racist accusations for what's coming -- because it surely IS coming.

Hillary is engaging in the standard old-style politics of looking at the electorate as a bunch of groups -- dividing the electorate up into groups and going after key targets. There are "soccer moms" and there are "blue-collar whites" in that view. It is similar to the "big states" view that says don't campaign in small states. It assumes you have a majority, it cannibalizes the voters you have instead of persuading new voters, and Dean's (and Obama's) 50-state strategy is proving to be a much better strategy.

It is the old way, and it worked for a long time, and it stopped working and the 50-state strategy is what we need now. But is isn't racist and isn't intended to divide us. Is going after "soccer moms" or "NASCAR dads" as a demographic voting block a sexist tactic? Yes and no, but it isn't intended to divide. She is just saying that voting patterns show that she is bringing in more of certain groups -- and confirming her unfortunate entrenchment in the old-style "big state" view.

Let's talk about real racism. Look at what has already started from the right. We already have seen them using "boy" and "darkest Africa." As November approaches you will be hearing about "our women." There will be stuff about how Obama wants the While House so he can lure in white wives of important Senators, etc. There will be a lot of "us" vs "them." And much, much worse. Believe me, much, MUCH worse. THAT is when you want to talk about people using racism as a campaign tactic. And when that happens you really don't want the right saying "well that's what you said about Hillary, too."

I was for Edwards. I worked for Richardson for a while. Between today's two candidates I lean Obama a lot and sense that he could be a historical transforming leader. I really want a strongly progressive candidate with an instinct to defend fellow progressives and that isn't Hillary or Obama right now, so I haven't endorsed anyone I'll work for Obama enthusiastically, and will defend him, and then when he is in office I'll work to push the country and Obama in a more progressive direction.

Posted by Dave Johnson at May 11, 2008 8:40 AM

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Comments

Unfortunately, Hillary appears to be using the same right-wing race-baiting tactics, and they are extremely racist in their intent.

Come on, she's even using freakin' Republican dog-whistle words on Democrats who are reluctant to vote for the scary black man. "Hard-working American, white Americans?"

I disagree with you completely in your assessment of her intent and her statements. She's using race a blunt object to hammer the end of her candidacy deep into the ground of defeat.

See Bob Herbert in the NYT for more.

Posted by: Mike Miller at May 11, 2008 1:48 PM

If a person's racism isn't personal, but instead is "just business", it's still racism.

Posted by: Jon H at May 11, 2008 9:45 PM

While I would support Obama should/when he becomes the nominee, it must be remembered that the Rethugs will exploit the race issue and it just might work. What Hillary has done is peanuts compared to how this campaign will be run by the competition. I think that there are so many people out there who will not vote for a black man, especially one with an outspoken wife. This is a racist country, founded on slavery and people of color have always gotten a raw deal. Here's hoping I am wrong and that the Democratic nominee can beat St. John McCain in November.

Posted by: joanne at May 12, 2008 10:21 AM

So... We're supposed to ignore obvious racism when Democrats do it... Because racism is something only Republicans are guilty of? Basically, you don't really care about racism at all, at least not beyond how you can use it as a weapon against your enemies. So, you ignore the black community when they call 'Bullshit' on Democrats.

Racism IS when you use it as a campaign tactic. It IS when you use it to gain power. Whether you 'mean it' or not. Saying 'you can't nominate that guy, because he's black' is racism, and whats what the entire 'electability' argument is about. Saying 'hard working americans, White Americans' is an invocation of the 'lazy, shiftless Negro' stereo-type.

Basically, you're a white liberal who wants us to ignore what the entire black community is saying about racism and listen to you instead so we can keep our powder dry for the Republicans?

Posted by: soullite at May 13, 2008 11:24 AM

Oh, I see Mike. It's not acceptable for Hillary "to be using the same right-wing race-baiting tactics" but it IS acceptable for Barack's lackeys to use the same right-wing anti-Hillary tactics.
Yeah, sure. The fact is that Barack's apologists have smeared Hillary just as viciously as the far right-wing did in the 1990s (remember all the lesbian rumors that played while she was also supposed to have been having an affair with Vince Foster?) and not a single one of them is sorry for it. Hell, your St Barack can get up in front of an audience and give the finger to Hillary in the midst of a speech and THEN slip in some Jay-Z references, followed by suggesting that Hillary is mud (or worse) on his shoes.
Barack is a ****ing CHICAGO POLITICIAN. Just as dirty as any of the old Daley machine and just as corrupt as any of them. In his "great race speech", he admitted that Wright's words were beyond the pale but that Wright was as important to him as his own grandmother. Well, until Wright decided to go a few steps further and Obama had to kick Wright to the curb.
I'm getting damned sick and tired of all the "white vote for Hillary = racism" schtick from the Obama camp while "white vote for Obama = progress". That's BULLSH*T, and everyone knows it. IF we're REALLY supposed to "post-racial" (as Obama ONCE stated), then why can't a Black politician be seen as unqualified as a White politician? Or are we to believe that every Black politician who's been caught up in some misdoing has been the "victim" of THE MAN, instead of a victim of their own flaws? For the record, I live in Alabama. I've probably seen more racism in the political arena than I care to think about (and quite likely more than anyone else who doesn't live in the South). I've seen campaign flyers where light-skinned Black politicians have had their pictures darkened (along with the inevitable "too liberal" tags)--and that's been within the last 20 years. Most of us white Alabamians have heard far too many of our local African-American politicians cry "racism" over every last little issue--recently, there was a charge that some State Department apparently didn't have enough African-American employees to satisfy some AA politicians and they threatened to cut off the department's WHOLE budget unless more AA employees were hired; of course, it's not like employment records are unavailable and it's not like the State is always hiring in all positions in all departments. There was NOTHING to suggest that the department went out of its way to prevent African-Americans from being hired; in fact, there was NO information over how many African-Americans had applied for jobs with that department in the last X number of years compared to how many openings had come available in that same period. Nope, it was just "there aren't enough African-Americans working there compared to the State's racial composition". (Of course, no one would ever seriously suggest that the historically-Black colleges--like ASU and Tuskegee University--should fall in line with more acceptable "racial diversity" models. But let the University of Alabama or Auburn University fall below a certain racially diverse threshhold and there will be hell to pay.)
So, anyone who thinks that a white person can't oppose Barack Obama because HE'S A BAD CANDIDATE needs a very serious reality check. (Of course, the corollary here is how can a white person be a racist if he supports one white candidate but opposes another white candidate? I'd also like to ask all these "white vote for Hillary = racist" theorists how would they feel about voting for Republican Alan Keyes or Republican Condoleeza Rice for President? They're just as Black/African-American as Obama, but I really don't think there'd be ANY cries of racism being flung in those cases. Though the image of Bill O'Reilly and Pat Buchanan's heads blowing up like in the movie Scanners would almost be worth it to see a Black Republican Presidential candidate going against a Black Democratic Presidential candidate.)
Incidentally, on the TV show "24" (which got much bad press for right-wing support of Bauer's anti-terrorist tactics) has had 2 African-Americans as President during the show's run (somewhat eerily, both brothers in the sibling sense), one who was truly impressive, David Palmer, and the other who was depressingly mediocre, Wayne Palmer. David Palmer would be the kind of President I wouldn't have much trouble supporting (unless he was a Republican--the show never really stated one way or the other), but Wayne Palmer seemed too full of himself. Kind of like a certain African-American Presidential candidate right now.

Posted by: JosephW [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 14, 2008 4:29 AM

So, soullite, how did YOU feel when the Rev (and state Sen) James Meeks, while referring to Chicago Mayor Daley, was quoted as saying “You got some preachers that are house niggers. You got some elected officials that are house niggers. And rather than them trying to break this up, they gonna fight you to protect this white man.” This man appeared in campaign commercials FOR Obama. This man served on campaign committees FOR Obama. And this man is hoping to challenge Daley for the mayorship of Chicago.
When the "entire Black community" (who, according to Meeks, doesn't object to the word "nigger", and, in fact, finds it a "term of endearment") can speak about racism while acknowledging that not all whites are racists and also doesn't engage in this hypocrisy of words, you might have a point. Until then, I (as a white liberal) will choose to ignore what the "entire Black community" has to say on racism since the "entire Black community" doesn't speak as one.
How about recognizing the BLATANT sexism and misogyny of the African-American community and how it's reflected in the Obama campaign? How about the rampant homophobia in the African-American churches which leads many AA ministers to blow a fuse when reminded that marriage is a civil right (but of course, only African-Americans participated in the whole of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s while the racist whites were busy sitting around their TVs watching black men being hosed down and having dogs sicced on them when they weren't being lynched)? How about the way Hillary's comment about LBJ being blown all out of proportion (despite its TOTAL historical accuracy) by some African-American Obama supporters who NEEDED some kind of a wedge to place between Hillary and African-Americans? How about the simple contemptible fact that Obama wins 85-90% of the African-American vote but THAT isn't "racial" in nature? No. That's just the African-American community proving it can be suckered by a Black politician just as easily as it could be by White politicians.

Posted by: JosephW [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 14, 2008 4:55 AM

The full quote's not included. No surprise. No surprise another worthless 'progressive' blog chooses to avoid calling out the real sexism. One wonders when you elect your prince, who you think will still be reading you? First and last visit.

Posted by: Heather at May 16, 2008 8:42 AM

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