Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Joe Klein was Right: To Beat Romney, Barack Obama and the Democrats Cannot Appear to be "Kissing the Butt" of Negro Equality

A white man who extended a Sunday-school class in to a two-day school for poor children was called on by irate Klan members. He was taken out, blindfolded, and forced to kiss the private parts of several assembled blacks:

Well, they made me kiss the negro man's posterior, and held it open and made me kiss it, and as well as I remember a negro woman's too, and also her private parts, and then told me to have sexual connection with her. I told them they knew, of course, I could not do that. They struck me, and some them begged for me. They asked me how I liked that for nigger equality. I told them it was pretty tough.

According to a white eyewitness, "I think that was the cause, or one cause, of his being whipped. That was what they professed, that he was equalizing himself too much, and that was the reason they made him take that kissing negro equality."
History echoes. This account from the 19th century can just as easily describe the white racial anxieties and resentment that Mitt Romney's campaign is playing to almost a century and a half later, and which Obama and the Democrats must neutralize this week.

Pundits, journalists, academics, and others have spent a good amount of energy dissecting the race-baiting go for broke white right-wing populism of Mitt Romney and the Tea Party GOP. The Republican Convention in Tampa tried to balance the "read meat" for the base with an open-arms appeal for the Independents and undecideds who were watching the event at home--and not checking out the white trash adventures of Honey Boo Boo

This week, the Democrats have a similar challenge: they need to mobilize their base; but Obama and company must also convince undecideds that they are in fact better off now than they would be under a continuation of Bush the Younger's failed economic policies under Romney-Ryan, and to tout the successes of President Obama in the face of rabid Tea Party GOP obstructionism.

The Democrats also have a particularly fine line to walk, one that is the converse of the Tea Party GOP's "mobilize the angry white men" strategy.

The novelty of having a black president has worn off. Moreover, how can the Democrats appeal to white Independents who are unhappy about the economy, somewhat "persuadable" by Romney's racial dog whistles, and yet do not feel particularly comfortable with either the latter's personality or the Tea Party GOP's policies?

These right-leaning Independents, undecideds, and low information voters are vulnerable to the white identity politics that are the foundational premise of Mitt Romney's Southern Strategy 2.0. However, with the correct prodding, some of them could perhaps be won over by the Democrats.

Ultimately, the big tent is already present in the convention hall. The practical politics involve figuring out how the Democrats can get the votes of these white fence sitters.

Joe Klein comments on this political puzzle and observes:
But let me afflict the comfortable. The Democrats have a serious problem. It is a problem that stems from the party's greatest strength: its long-term support for inclusion and equal rights for all, its support of racial integration and equal rights for women and homosexuals and its humane stand on immigration reform.
Those heroic positions, which I celebrate, cost the Democrats more than a few elections in the past. And they caused an understandable, if misguided, overreaction within the party--a drift toward identity politics, toward special pleading. Inclusion became exclusive. The Democratic National Committee officially recognizes 14 caucuses or "communities," most having to do with race, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity.
The diversity of the Democratic Party is integral to their brand name and a strength. As such, it should not be squandered away, run away from, or misappropriated. But, it will be tweaked and shaped for maximum gain through a carefully choreographed exercise in perception management.

Nevertheless, Klein's instincts are more or less correct in terms of how white identity politics are central to the social and cultural terrain of post Civil Rights America. These politics cut both ways as voters ask, "what have you done for me lately?"

He continues:
But if I'm a plain old white insurance salesman, I look at the Democratic Party and say, What's in it for me? These feelings are clearly intensifying in this presidential campaign. They are bound to increase, perhaps dangerously, as the white electoral majority (currently about 70%) diminishes over time.
If the Democratic Party truly wants to be a party of inclusion, it must reach out to those who are currently excluded from its identity politics. It needs to disband its caucuses. It needs to say, We are proud of our racial and ethnic backgrounds, our different religions, our lifestyle differences. But the things that unite us are more important than the things that divide us. We have only one caucus--the American caucus.
At this week's convention in North Carolina, Barack Obama and the Democrats will deploy safe and empty rhetoric about America as a country of immigrants, opportunity, and upward mobility. They will also talk about the strengths of inclusion, tolerance, and diversity as civic virtues. What Obama and his surrogates cannot do is directly engage the open racism of the Republicans, talk about race in a transparent way, or call out Romney for his bigotry. Such a "teachable moment" would play into the hands of the Tea Party GOP.

Here, the Democrats have already "lost" the battle over the visuals and optics of the convention--it will be far more diverse than the Republicans', and the party's nominee is a black man. They can still win the battle over language and policy.

Mitt Romney's subtle racial dog whistles, and his recent descent into overt racism, are predicated on a careful calculation that there are enough white voters who are just generally disaffected and upset. These voters cannot give you any specifics beyond the economy being bad, nor are they policy wonks, but they feel that something is just broken in America, and it needs to be fixed.

In turn, this confusion and energy can be directed back towards the psychic wages of whiteness and the symbolic power of voting for a white person to be President. These white undecideds will be worse of economically--and many of them know it--but at least that black guy, he who is a proxy for all that is wrong in a country where good white folks like them can't get ahead anymore, will be out of office.

Romney is gambling, in a smart bet, that these white undecideds and Independents can be moved by their racial resentment: the prospect that that they will no longer have to kiss a negro's ass is more important than their material self-interest.

These fears about social equality, and white domination by black Americans are not new. Romney has simply refined the manipulation of these anxieties about white peril into a precise science in the Age of Obama, and through a "post-truth" strategy that is aided and abetted by a criminally negligent media which has abandoned all journalistic integrity.
 
The question remains, will such sentiments be sufficient to drive enough white Independents and right-leaning undecideds over to Romney's column in November? The Democratic Convention is a chance to speak directly to some of these voters--and one that Barack Obama had best not squander.

25 comments:

Stephen Matlock said...

I read your column whenever it comes out but seldom post. (I just have nothing to add.)

But your antipenultimate paragraph just got me:

"Romney is gambling, in a smart bet, that these white undecideds and Independents can be moved by their racial resentment: the prospect that that they will no longer have to kiss a negro's ass is more important than their material self-interest."

It's both true and depressing at the same time. I want people to be better than they are. But they're not; they're going to come up with whatever reason they can to avoid speaking that very obvious truth, and yes they will, with great relief, pull the lever for a lying plutocrat who is going to buy this election.

Anonymous said...

Vic78

I don't see the GOP's strategy working this time. Romney's maxed out the white anxiety vote. Romney also sucks as a candidate. He needs 60% of the white vote to win. You really think he can pull that off when he offends everyone he talks to? Romney puts stumbling blocks in his own way. Eastwood was talking to a chair. Romney said his running mate had good ideas. Romney picked a lightweight for his running mate. Being white isn't the currency that it used to be. Obama knows the game better than most and has played it masterfully.

I'm seeing a landslide. I'll give Romney Mississippi and Alabama. The skin game doesn't work like it used to.

chaunceydevega said...

@Stephen. Chime in more! I am sure you have lots to say. Yes, he is buying an election to lower his own taxes. That is the easiest commercial in the world to make. Yet, it won't be done. I wonder why...

@Vic. I hope you are right. I worry you may be very wrong.

CBid13 said...

CD,

I think it might serve the Democratic Party well to abandon the multi-caucuses and, perhaps, rebrand themselves with the 'Great American Melting Pot' theme from the Schoolhouse Rock cartoons of our youth... Anyone who is represented by any of the party caucuses under the Big Tent already knows which way the wind blows and if they don't, they're a lost cause (I mean, really, if you're a 'Log Cabin' conservative, or one of the maybe two dozen black race traitors, or senior citizens that believe somehow that voting for any goddamned republican benefits them -then you're fucking hopeless and deserve whatever happens to you if they get elected and succeed in getting their platform passed in legislation... Unfortunately, the majority of other people in this country will suffer too).

I don't think there's a lot of fence sitters left. I don't see too many people getting swayed either way before election time. Of course, there's always the possibility of an 'October Surprise' to shake things up a bit.

The major problem I see is motivating all the 1st time voters from four years ago to come back out and hit the polls again. In particular, the black community. I'm afraid that a large percentage turned out to make history happen, and now that we've had our first black president, many aren't motivated to keep him in office. This factor and the concerted effort the right wing is making to suppress voting across major swaths of eligible voters likely to vote for democrats are the two biggest elements that I see effecting the outcome.

I think the Independents are already decided.

Cheers,
C. Bid

Black Sage said...

Joe Klein was Right: To Beat Romney, Barack Obama and the Democrats Cannot Appear to be "Kissing the Butt" of Negro Equality - ChaunceyD

To me, Obama has already proven to his electorate that he’s not “Kissing the Butt” of Negro equality. He did this by refusing to attend the 2012 NAACP by stating that there was a “scheduling conflict.” In Sept. of 2011, he told the Congressional Black Congress (CBC) to “stop whining”, essentially telling them in other words to, shut-up!

This is why I still believe that Black Americans in particular are truly captives in this country. We are trapped by the overwhelmingly, racist and silly politics of the Democrat and Republican parties. I guess this is the price that we must pay for wanting and rushing for integration and assimilation policies of the 1960s. Instead of “seizing the time” like Bobby Seale of the Black Panthers advocated, Black Americans as a group, folded as opposed to doing just that.

Joe Klein may be right, however, “Kissing the Butt of Negroes” in 2012 is surely not an issue.

And last but not least, I sincerely hope that Obama’s campaign officials stop emailing me and my wife. Why? Because we are no longer members of his blind sheeple!

nomad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nomad said...

LOL@ this:

"I sincerely hope that Obama’s campaign officials stop emailing me and my wife. Why? Because we are no longer members of his blind sheeple!"

(changing topics)

The bubba vote is a lost cause, Dems. Stop pursuin'em. There's another neglected white constituency that's much larger and much more likely to vote Dem. Real progressives. There is a whole lot of them! Your efforts would be better spent directed towards winning them over. If Barama had pursued a progressive agenda in his first term instead of a conservative one he would indeed be poised for a landslide. All those disaffected voters who have now deserted him would still be with him. There'd be no enthusiasm gap. I'd be singing his praises. Maybe even CNu would have a kind word.

Thrasher said...

The Black electorate has always been discounted in our nation's politics by both the GOP & DEMS.

Yet with the DEMS we do get something for our political currency a Black president without a Black agenda which is the equation that Black activists like me cannot stomach.

Black folks in America have always had to navigate around the reality of being in the margains and being in awkard situations such is the life of Blackness in America.

Into this reality the question is always what do we do in the face of this reality.

For me I have decided to live my life unemcumbered by any limits and restraints on my Blackness in any situation or environment.

I will vote for Obama and hope that he wins but I am also prepared for a Romney victory as well whatever the outcome I will keep being me a Free Black Man in America

Invisible Man said...

First of all, the historical narrative you opened with about "butt kissing" is nothing more than yet another example of the historical white putrid fascination with Black sex. Remember during Black lynchings, the genitalia was often removed and absconded away with.

Secondly, Dear Sir, your "practical politics" buzz word IS the problem ( not the solution) for the Demo-Cowards. What they NEED to do but continuously fail at, is to create a stark narrative of justice and equality for working people and the poor as oppose to being a moderate wing of the republican party that is pro gay and pro abortion rights, which is what they are now. And please stop with the Republican Obstruction. Obama had a solid majority in both houses, and a national and international "Change Mandate". Yet, instead of using the armies of inspired voters and fans who gave him that mandate, to build a "progressive Tea Party Movement"( that is now Occupy Wall Street and Arab Spring) he allowed the same wolves from Bush I, Bush II and the worst of the Clinton Presidency , right back into the hen house. He is to blame, not the republicans, who always do what they do. You need a larger frame work instead of failed Black bourgeoise respectability, well I guess that's the new form of Pimp'n ;-)


Black Sage said...

I will vote for Obama and hope that he wins but I am also prepared for a Romney victory as well whatever the outcome I will keep being me a Free Black Man in America. – Thrasher

@Thrasher, since when have you been a free Black man in America? Black Americans are no longer physically restrained, however, as a group; we are still economically, socially and politically in a state of bondage. Answer please, I’m quite curious!

nomad said...

"No chains around my feet
But I'm not free" Marley

Thrasher said...

BS,

My pleasure I was born into a family with a mother and father never lacking in anything from food to love. In the house I was never ignored, rejected or abandoned my every plea for love and respect was given freely by my parents.

My siblings loved me and I them. I was full of personality and filled to the brim with the highest sense of self worth.

When I left the aura of family my personhood was designed with a concrete foundation where my identity could mature and evolve.

As I entered the world of reality I was aware that all things were possible and when I stumbled my foundation allowed me to bounce back with a more seasoned demeanor and vision.

I entered the reality of a culture and nation which was stained by white supremacy and racial underdevelopment not wounded or tainted with any burdens or shortcomings nor feelings of inferiority.

Being a Free Black man was not only a reality of my birth but an existence created by my ancestors who were the architects of my being long before my existence materialize.

I have and will remain a Free Black Man at the age of 58 living in the manner I desire 24/7. I am a living iconic being.

My personhood has influenced many and altered the very essence of the lives of others.

I fear no man... I worship no god. I am Gregory Boyd Thrasher one of a kind.....

Black Sage said...

Being a Free Black man was not only a reality of my birth but an existence created by my ancestors who were the architects of my being long before my existence materialize. I fear no man... I worship no god. I am Gregory Boyd Thrasher one of a kind.. - Thrasher

@Thrasher, I’m happy to hear that you was born into such a warm, loving and caring family, very similar to my family in the dispensing of nurture as it should be. However, "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Thrasher said...

BS

Interesting you would select an ancient white man words to define me but I understand

'Everybody don't understand you but I does '
Willie the Pimp

Black Sage said...

Interesting you would select an ancient white man words to define me but I understand “Everybody don't understand you but I does '
Willie the Pimp -- Thrasher


@Thrasher, I’m not mad at-cha! However, the pithiness of Wolfgang’s statement still holds true in today’s polluted, political climate. It has nothing to do with his skin tone. For future reference, don’t be so closed-minded, even when the truth smacks you in the face. Suck it up like a man, reflect on it a little, and then move on!

Furthermore, I’m not trying to define you. You’re the only one that have the ability to define yourself in totality.

Thrasher said...

BS,

I am quite open minded that is why Wolfgang's statement means nothing to me it was you that applied it to me..

It is you that apparently has a closed mind and can't appreciate my basic declaration which is I am a Free Black Man..

Be bold be a Free Black Man like me there is plenty of space and a place for you ..Join me

SabrinaBee said...

It simply doesn't matter any more. Not after tonight. After an excellent job energizing the base, what did Obama do first thing today? Capitulate to Republican whining. i am not sure Obama even understands what is going on here. I don't understand it. This party has done every thing to make him bend over backwards for him and what does he do on the second night he is asking that his base support him? Bend over for them!!

Why? Why did the platform have to be amended when it already mentioned faith which is inclusive of all religions? Why did nobody think to say "words are hollow God is reflected constantly in the Democrats actions?" "The caring for the poor sick and needy is a direct reflect of the principles of Jesus" All that shows is more of the same capitulating.

Mind boggling to a person that has hope of something different, confirming to someone who already believes he is a Manchurian candidate. if ever there was a time for him to stand firm...

SabrinaBee said...

"If Barama had pursued a progressive agenda in his first term instead of a conservative one he would indeed be poised for a landslide."

This is true. Not only that but we'd have been on the road to economic vitality and proving the progressive policies work.

Thrasher said...

Why does a foreign nation have more clout with the DEMS than Black America with regard to our domestic agenda in America.

God is a political construct to be leverage as seen fit..

Invisible Man said...

Sabrina Bee is right. Obama had a mandate provided by a mobilized army of supporters both nationally and international ready to swing into action for the change that he said he would represent. This coalition could have been more powetfull than the Tea Party. But as soon as he got in he immediately locked them out and brought in the leaders of the financial and insurance industries along with assorted crooks from Chicago including his education chief. His followers then formed groups like Occupy Wall Street and Occupy the Hood and the international movement became Arab Spring. These individuals now mock him and rightfully so. Some where The Respectable Negroes ignore this narrative for the chance to play "back room democratic straightest" as if it's some animated game played on the TV with a controller or what ever the gamers use

CNu said...

It simply doesn't matter any more. Not after tonight. After an excellent job energizing the base, what did Obama do first thing today? Capitulate to Republican whining.

lol, SistahBee is truth!

Help me out here Sis, did I miss the DNC heat about Wall St. being projected from that BoA auditorium stage?

Was DNC indignation about the crimogenic ecology of the 1% so nuanced that I simply missed it? Or should I stop pretending and just content myself with the minority-friendly nod, wink, and smile emanating from these "nice" white folks and humbly show my gratitude in the voting booth?

nomad said...

So the DNC forgot to mention we're the United States of Israel. And Barama insisted they correct it. What's the problem?

Thrasher said...

That is the problem the DNC is not interested in appeasing Israel nor a buncg of Jesus freaks ..

Obama of course being the consumate politician is playing all the angles it is the nature of politics and has been for decades.

Special interests must be served of course when our interests ( Black America) require service we must get at the end of the line and put a sock in our mouths gays, jews, jesus freaks and others don't have to genuflect and wispher their demands but this is the deal the Black ruling class has cut ..WTF

CNu said...

lol, shining, happy, women, gays, mexicans, negroes, and even Bubba have all given you their version of publicly subsidized reality - why can't you simply and humbly accept the tasty political gumbo they've cooked up for you there in the BoA stadium?

nomad said...

O-baa-ma! O-baa-ma!