For the GOP, Turning Right Means Turning White—No Matter How It Looked on Tuesday Night

There is a lot of angst out there about the racialization of American politics and in particular that the GOP has become a White people’s party. As noted in “The Republicans’ Last Hurrah,” the basic racial politics of the election come down to Romney needing at least 61% of the White vote to win and for Whites to make up 74% of the electorate.

Then, in a New York Times article entitled, “Making the Election about Race,” Thomas Edsall noted that the Romney-Ryan campaign not only understands the need to appeal to Whites but is acting accordingly. “The Republican ticket is flooding the airwaves with commercials that develop two themes designed to turn the presidential contest into a racially freighted resource competition pitting middle class white voters against the minority poor.”

Of course, it’s not just the minority poor. Edsall still lives in a world where all non-Whites are poor, kept in poverty by those evil White folks. (Probably part of the job description at the NYTimes.) In fact, at least 80% of all non-Whites are expected to vote for Obama. It’s the non-Whites versus the Whites, with a lot of working class Whites voting Republican and a lot of well-off non-Whites voting for Obama (such as Jews, 80% of whom voted for Obama in 2008). In 2008, only 40% of Whites with less than a college education voted for Obama, whereas 83% of the non-White working class voted for Obama (see here).

According to Edsall, the two themes of Romney’s ads are:

  • Accusing President Obama of gutting the work requirements enacted in the 1996 welfare reform legislation; and
  • Alleging that  Obama has taken $716 billion from Medicare.

So why are these ads racial? First, Medicare (government supported medical care for senior citizens) is a program serving an overwhelmingly White (77 percent versus 10 percent Black, and 8 percent Hispanic) constituency, while “Obamacare”  will provide health coverage to the uninsured who are disproportionately Black and Hispanic (16.3 percent Black; 30.7 percent, Hispanic; 5.2 percent, Asian-American; only 46.3 percent less than half is made up non-Hispanic White [many of whom are young people less concerned with health issues]).

And the GOP has got a heavy hitter in the lineup swinging their bat. The principal media consultant for the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, which will be running many of these ads over the next ten weeks, is Larry McCarthy, who produced the original Willie Horton ad. One such TV ads says, “You paid into Medicare for years — every paycheck. Now when you need it, Obama has cut $716 billion from Medicare.” It then continues, “Why? To pay for Obamacare. The money you paid for your guaranteed health care is going to a massive new government program that is not for you” (emphasis added),

Edsall and others criticize Romney-Ryan and the GOP for playing dirty pool, bemoaning that, “the longer campaigns go on, the nastier they get. Once unthinkable methods become conventional.”

And they are correct. Because they aren’t honest enough to admit the dirty big secret that both domestic and foreign policy in America elections and politics are overwhelmingly about race and ethnicity. Everybody knows it, especially those that run the campaigns. Recall not only Wille Horton (which may have put G.H.W. Bush over the top against Michael Dukakis, especially when it was given substance by Black CNN moderator Bernie Shaw’s question), but also the Jesse Helms “White Hands” commercial, which depicted a White job applicant who “needed that job” but was rejected because “they had to give it to a minority.”

But then again, race is the truth whose name we dare not speak. A Los Angeles Times article “Republican National Convention puts a brown face on a white party” noted that, until Mitt’s very Nordic looking wife Ann followed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (who looked a lot like fictional fellow New Jerseyean Tony Soprano), the stage at the Republican National Convention Tuesday night was dominated by a parade of very select members of racial and ethnic minorities. Among those who triumphally mounted and marched across the stage for the TV cameras on opening night were several Hispanics (Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval; Sher Valenzuela, the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor of Delaware; Ted Cruz, Tea Party candidate for the U.S. Senate in Texas; and the first lady of Puerto Rico, Lucé Vela Fortuño); then there was also South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (a Sikh) and the Black Democrat-turned-Republican Congressman Artur Davis, who seconded Barack Obama’s nomination four years ago and now delivered a stinging rebuke to the president he helped elect. During the roll call of the states, several Black delegates were trotted out and showcased so that they had the honor — and the spotlight — while surrounded by crowds of White faces in casting their state’s ballots for a very White candidate.

According to the LATimes article, this was the GOP’s way of telling the country that “These guys have chosen the Republican path and just look where it has gotten them!” But, of course, these are not the same Blacks and Hispanics that are the targets of the anti-Obamacare, anti-welfare ads. The difference is that conservative, Republican non-Whites are housebroken — you can invite them into your party, your business, or your home, and they won’t make a mess in the middle of the convention platform, the executive office, or the living room. The same can be said of some immigrants. But the joker in the deck is none other than Galton’s Law of Regression to the Mean — however high an individual rises, you can bet that his (or her) relatives will return towards the average for that group, whether in IQ, welfare dependence, criminality, or any other behavior.

No matter. Politics is not about truth – just about getting elected. Even if a record White turnout puts Mitt Romney in the White House, expect nothing on the part of him or his party to advance White interests (see “The case for Obama: Why four more years may be less disastrous than unrestrained GOP rule“).

Jack Beauregard is a writer living on the West Coast.

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