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The GOP Would Cut Its Throat If It Denounced Racism

New America Media, Commentary, Earl Ofari Hutchinson Posted: Mar 28, 2010

Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan could have saved his breath when he furiously demanded that GOP leaders denounce the blatant racists among them. The loud chorus from other Democrats, civil rights leaders, and even an online petition from an advocacy group begging the GOP to speak out against naked bigots within its ranks is a good PR gambit, but it wont change anything at the GOP top. The GOP would cut its throat if it denounced its racists and racism and really meant it. The shouts, taunts, spitting, catcalls, joker posters, word slurs, and Confederate and Texas Lone Star flag waving by tea baggers is and has been an indispensable political necessity for the GOP.

Despite the GOPs narrow health care defeat, maybe even because of it, the GOPs programmed racist public ugliness is having some success. Obama's approval ratings, always tenuous at best among white males, have plunged into free fall. A bare 35 percent of them say they will back Democrats in the fall mid-term elections, and less than half of white women say they will back Democrats.

The racist spark to reignite the GOP's conservative, lower-income white male loyalists, and increasingly white female supporters, has always been there. The final presidential vote gave ample warning of that. While Obama made a major breakthrough in winning a significant percent of votes from white independents and young white voters, contrary to popular perception, McCain (not Obama) won a slim majority of their vote in the final tally. Overall, Obama garnered slightly more than 40 percent of the white male vote. Among Southern and Heartland America white male voters, Obama made almost no impact.

The GOP could not have been competitive during campaign 2008 without the bailout from white male voters. Much has been made since then that whites are a dwindling percent of the electorate, and that Hispanic, Asian, black, young, and women voters will permanently tip the balance of political power to the Democrats in coming national elections. Blue-collar white voters have shrunk from more than half of the nation's voters to less than 40 percent.

The assumption based solely on this demographic slide is that the GOP's white vote strategy is doomed to fail. This ignores three political facts. Elections are usually won by candidates with a solid and impassioned core of bloc voters. White males, particularly older white males, vote consistently and faithfully. And they voted in a far greater percentage than Hispanics and blacks.

GOP leaders have long known that blue-collar, white male voters can easily be aroused to vote and shout loudly on the emotional wedge issues: abortion, family values, anti-gay marriage and tax cuts. For 14 months, the Republicans whipped up their hysteria and borderline racism against health care reform. This was glaringly apparent in the ferocity and bile spouted by the shock troops the GOP leaders, in consort with the tea baggers, brought out to harangue, harass and bully Democrat legislators on the eve of the health care vote. These are the very voters that GOP presidents and aspiring presidents, Nixon, Reagan, Bush Sr. and W. Bush, and McCain and legions of GOP governors, senators and congresspersons banked on to seize and maintain regional and national political dominance.

But the GOPs best efforts to stir them into a frenzy wouldnt get to first base if millions didnt genuinely believe Obama was the anti-Christ and that every Democrat before him had turned government into a Frankenstein monster to tax them up the wazoo in order to create endless social programs that benefit minorities at the expense of hard-working whites. This is exactly how hate groups, the legion of anti-Obama Web sites and bloggers, and radio talk jocks craft their hate for Obama. This translates to even more fear, rage and distrust of big government.

The GOPs Win with the White Vote strategy failed in 2008 only because of the rage and disgust of legions of white voters at Bush's horribly failed domestic and war policies. This was more a personal and visceral reaction to the bumbles of Bush than a radical and permanent sea change in overall white voter sentiment about Obama, the Democrats and the GOP. Even if the GOP is, as is widely seen, an insular party of the Deep South and narrow Heartland, rural and non-college educated blue-collar whites, this is not a voting demographic to mock, ridicule, sneer at, let alone dismiss, because the numbers are still huge.

The GOP, driven by personal instincts, political leanings, history, demographics, and raw political need, has masterfully played the race card for a half century to get its way. Asking it to stop now would be asking it to cut its own throat.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His nationally heard talk show is on KTYM-AM 1460 AM Los Angeles, Fridays 9:30 AM and KPFK Pacifica Radio 90.7 Los Angeles, Saturdays Noon PST.

Related Articles:

Blacks and Latinos Not Out of the Woods Yet on Health Care

Racial Profiling Rears Its Ugly Head in Torrance, CA

Gender Bias: Linda Carty's Last Hope on Death Row


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