Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The White Vote is the Right Vote

New York. Philadelphia. The New York Times. The Philadelphia Inquirer. The contrast between the two cities/papers is crystallized by the op-ed page of last Sunday's paper.

Frank Rich wrote a thoughtful piece on the upcoming presidential election and the impact of race in the outcome. Comparing McCain to my favorite racist, George "Macaca" Allen (the former Senator from Virginia), Rich notes the an electorate that dismissed Allen is likewise rejecting the similar tactics of McCain, In Defense of White Americans:

As we saw first in the Democratic primary results and see now in the widespread revulsion at the McCain-Palin tactics, white Americans are not remotely the bigots the G.O.P. would have us believe. Just because a campaign trades in racism doesn’t mean that the country is racist. It’s past time to come to the unfairly maligned white America’s defense.
Despite the best efforts of the media to stoke the racial flames by trying to "ratchet up this election cycle’s prevailing antiwhite bias," Rich suggests that the public isn't performing according to script. There is no evidence of a lingering "Bradley effect" in the voting booth, where the voter says yes to Obama until he pulls the lever behind the curtain, according to Rich. And, as Hillary Clinton found out during the Democratic primary, racial appeals no longer have the quite the return on investment that they did in the good old days:
So do all those deer hunters in western Pennsylvania. Once Hillary Clinton whipped Obama in the Rust Belt, it’s been a bloviation staple (echoing the Clinton camp’s line) that a black guy is doomed among Reagan Democrats, Joe Sixpacks, rednecks, Joe the Plumbers or whichever condescending term you want to choose. (Clinton at one low point settled on “hard-working Americans, white Americans.”) Michigan in particular was repeatedly said to be slipping out of the Democrats’ reach because of incorrigible racism — until McCain abandoned it as hopeless this month in the face of a double-digit Obama lead.

The constant tide of anthropological articles and television reports set in blue-collar diners, bars and bowling alleys have hyped this racial theory of the race. So did the rampant misreading of primary-season exit polls. On cable TV and the Sunday network shows, there was endless chewing over the internal numbers in the Clinton victories. It was doomsday news for Obama, for instance, that some 12 percent of white Democratic primary voters in Pennsylvania said race was a factor in their choice and three-quarters of them voted for Clinton. Ipso facto — and despite the absence of any credible empirical evidence — these Clinton voters would either stay home or flock to McCain in November.

The McCain campaign is so dumb that it bought into the press’s confirmation of its own prejudices. Even though registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 1.2 million in Pennsylvania (more than double the 2004 gap), even though Obama leads by double digits in almost every recent Pennsylvania poll and even though no national Republican ticket has won there since 1988, McCain started pouring his dwindling resources into the state this month. When the Democratic Representative John Murtha described his own western Pennsylvania district as a “racist area,” McCain feigned outrage and put down even more chips on the race card, calling the region the “most patriotic, most God-loving” part of America.

Well, there are racists in western Pennsylvania, as there are in most pockets of our country. But despite the months-long drumbeat of punditry to the contrary, there are not and have never been enough racists in 2008 to flip this election. In the latest New York Times/CBS News and Pew national polls, Obama is now pulling even with McCain among white men, a feat accomplished by no Democratic presidential candidate in three decades, Bill Clinton included. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey finds age doing more damage to McCain than race to Obama.
And then there's the Philly version on the issue. Unlike Rich's optimistic opinion of the white voter, Jonathan Valania of Phawker takes a darker view and suggests that whites have so muddled the country that they don't deserve the right to vote. Rather than mounting an appeal to the better nature of the white electorate, Valania opines in the Inky, White people shouldn't be allowed to vote:
As a lifelong Caucasian, I am beginning to think the time has finally come to take the right to vote away from white people, at least until we come to our senses. Seriously, I just don't think we can be trusted to exercise it responsibly anymore.

I give you Exhibit A: The last eight years.

In 2000, Bush-Cheney stole the election, got us attacked, and then got us into two no-exit wars. Four years later, white people reelected them. Is not the repetition of the same behavior over and over again with the expectation of a different outcome the very definition of insanity? (It is, I looked it up.)

Exhibit B is any given Sarah Palin rally.

Exhibit C would be Ed Rendell and John Murtha, who in separate moments of on-the-record candor they would come to regret, pointing out that there are plenty of people in Pennsylvania who just cannot bring themselves to pull the lever for a black man - no matter what they tell pollsters.
So what does Valania do? He stereotypes the white voter:

These people are ruining things for the rest of us white people who are ready to move on. Sure, they have their reasons, chimerical though they may be: He's a Muslim. He's a terrorist. He's a Muslim terrorist. He's going to fire all the white people and give their jobs to blacks.

But those are just the little white lies these people allow themselves to be told, a self-induced cognitive dissonance that lets them avoid saying the unsayable: I cannot pull the lever for a black man.

And then he proposes that all white people be treated alike, by being denied the right to vote:

That's why this ban on white people voting I'm proposing has got to be statewide. And I'm sorry to say, it's going to have to include all white people, even those who would vote for Obama, because you can't just let some white people vote. That would be unfair.

By this point, you either think I am joking or are calling me an elitist. I assure you I am neither. OK, maybe a little of both. But it wasn't always like this. I come from the Coal Belt, from that Alabamian hinterland between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, as per James Carville's famous formulation.

* * * *

So, understand that I am saying all this for the good of the country and, in fact, for the good of those hard-working white people that Hillary used to pander to.

See also, EDITORIAL: Why Whitey Can’t Vote. And there's another take that Valenia wrote during the primary, during Clinton's racist phase, describing various voter flavors, such as The Angry Male Voter and The Values Voter/The Flag Pin Voter. My favorite:

The Undecided Voter
Their vote is like throwing stones in a pond on a moonless night. You hear the splash but you don’t know where it went in. Anybody who tells a pollster on the eve of an election that they are still — STILL, after endless debates, 24-7 media coverage and non-stop dueling campaign ads on TV — undecided is either stupid or lying, and probably both. After being reminded that a LOT of people died to ensure their right to vote and the very LEAST you could do is make up your fucking mind, these people should be slapped across the forehead with a wet mackerel until they leave the polling place.

And here's an expanded video version of Valania's essay:

Not surprisingly, not all white people agree with Valania's proposal. See DEATH OF PRINT: Inquirer Circulation Plunges In The Wake Of Outrageous Phawker Guest Editorial and HOT DOCUMENT: London Calling.

I guess some people just see everything in black and white.

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