Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Racializing American Politics

In an article published in the Wall Street Journal, title The Radicalizing of American Politics, the author makes the claim that politics has too often been reduced to racial categories while ignoring real debates and analysis. He points to the recent example of the post presidential election analysis that claimed the Republican Party lost because it was “too white”. Here the author believes that Republicans lost not because of this nebulas phrase of being too white, but rather because the party failed to effectively tell the story of a failed President and the benefits of their ideas. Here the author really misses the point of what pundits and critiques of the Republican Party might mean by suggesting it is “too white”. While this may be an over simplification of why Mitt Romney lost, the fact that Republicans consistently fail to win a majority of the minority vote in any election, even considering the great success President George Bush had with Latinos in 2004, suggests a real cleavage in American political thought.

The fact that Republicans have failed to capture any of the African-American vote does point to an interesting and possibly troubling reality of the two party systems. While Republican supporters, similar to the suggestion made by the author of the WSJ article, claim the Democrats are just playing racial politics and avoiding the actual issues. Somehow the people the party that cannot win the minority vote is somehow post racial, while the party that won 98% of the African American vote in the 2012 Presidential election is somehow stuck in a by gone era of racial politics. What is really the case here is that in fact a lack of understanding that race is still very relevant in American politics and society. As we read in Not Even Past, race not only matters, but is still an extremely influential and impactful factor. Obama still struggles and wrestles with race and speaking out about it and at other times showing restraint. This is not even to say that it is even racism exactly that is the factor, it is just to understand, that while some may want to live in a color blind world the fact is that the United States is not color blind. The failure than of the Republican Party may then be instead due to the fact that it is unwilling to really confront this reality because it is more convenient for the argument that the country is post racial. Does this seeming unwillingness to address race and instead use realization as a critique of the Democratic Party suggest something about the Republican audience? Who they are trying to target? Isn't race still a political factor and reality?


1 comment:

  1. This post vividly reminds me of my Thanksgiving dinner table conversation... and ultimately we decided it comes down to one question; what does it mean to be "too white"? And to me the term "too white" is rather offensive and exceedingly vague. Honestly, I don't know enough about politics to provide you with the answers to your questions. But I also don't think even Fareed Zakaria could answer those questions. I think we need to rewind and ask a more difficult question; How do we want politicians to deal with race?
    We live in a capitalist society where inequality is built in to our culture, it's what makes us a Democracy... It's clear that race needs to be dealt with at a social level not a political one.