The Democratic party's white face

Posted: Aug 08, 2000 12:00 AM
You never become so aware of race as when reading a New York Times news report on a Republican gathering. (It's funny how the people who are most vociferous about race are always upper middle-class Manhattanites who hire black women to clean their toilets.) In a typical New York Times observation about a George Bush rally, one sentence began: "Like all the crowds Mr. Bush has drawn during the last five days, the ones today were overwhelmingly white ..."

Needless to say, the Times was duly indignant about all the blacks at the Republican Convention, denouncing the Republicans for their "strategic deployment of blacks as props," calling it a "form of minstrelsy" and "dressing up in blackface." Republicans may not be winning huge majorities of black votes, but at least we don't think we own them. We have blacks, too. Tough luck.

According to the Times, it was an outrage for Republicans to allow blacks to speak at their convention, "given the party's recent history of code words and writing off the minority vote." Actually, those aren't "code words." The Republican Party fully and forthrightly opposes race discrimination, socialism, and laws that attempt to punish free speech ("hate crimes"). The party also candidly supports free markets, the death penalty and welfare reform -- among other Democrat issues that are supposed to be Rorschach blots for latent racism.

The utter failure of a sizable portion of blacks to adopt these views is not Republicans writing off blacks; it's blacks writing off Republican positions. It would be nice if more blacks voted Republican. It would be nice if everyone voted more Republican, including white men in Mississippi. (In 1984, nine out of 10 white men in Mississippi voted for Reagan.)

The real oddity about the parties is that the Democrats can't get white men to vote for them. Except in the landslide election in 1964, Democrats haven't been able to get a majority of men to vote for their candidate in any presidential election since 1944.

(I hasten to add that the 1964 landslide was against Barry Goldwater, who may have been solid on the Viet Cong issue, but he was very, very bad on all the "social issues," including abortion. Like John McCain, Goldwater went on to attack the Religious Right, saying every good Christian should kick Jerry Falwell in the buttocks. So spare me complaints about the cultural issues costing Republicans votes.)

If any party is putting Potemkin politicians on their convention stage, it's the Democrats. In election after election, they run white men for president, but still can't seem to hoodwink white men into voting for them. Where are the snippy comments from The New York Times about that minstrel show perpetrated on the American people for more than half a century now? (Even when the Democrats win presidential elections without the men's vote, they have rarely gotten a majority of Americans of any gender or ethnic group to vote for them.)

A party that is so pathetically incapable of getting men to vote for them ought to be hanging its head in some perplexity, rather than haranguing Republicans for allowing blacks and women to speak at our happy, celebratory convention.

The Democrats have sized the people up, and realize they are going to lose. Things are so bad, they're trying to stir up the race pot just to be sure their own base votes for them. When the Democrats feel they need to race-bait Republicans to hold the black vote (which has not given more than 12 percent to the Republicans in 20 years), they can kiss the election goodbye. As they are starting to realize too late, Bill Clinton was, apparently, not quite so popular as their lying polls claimed.

The voters will be anxious: It is a good economy and Democrats keep trying to scare the American people with their babble about "risky tax schemes" and "right-wing Republicans." But Clinton may finally have cried "right-wing Republican" once too often. Paula Jones, Ken Starr, Linda Tripp, Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick, Gennifer Flowers, Newt Gingrich, the Miami Cubans, Paul Fray, the Arkansas state troopers (and so on) were all supposed to be scary right-wing Republicans, too.

Indeed, if Bush wins (and he's going to), this election will be a historical first: An incumbent vice president is going to lose in the midst of a booming economy. It's a bit of a risk, but the one thing the American people are certain of is that -- good economy or not -- if we keep these guys around for another four years, they'll wreck the country.