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March 26, 2009

Comments

Michael Steele ;)

My preferred approach to reform, for instance, would marry a reduced incarceration rate to a substantial increase in the police presence on America's streets, which if implemented clumsily (as most policy shifts are) could mean fewer black men behind bars, but more tragedies like the death of Ta-Nehisi's friend.

Bill Bratton seems to have done the "increased police presence" right here in LA. One major point: That "increased presence" is himself. He's on the radio weekly, he gives frequent press conferences and when something goes down (like the beatings at a rally last year), he addresses it immediately and without obfucation.

He's the first chief who really seems to be endorsed by all the communities here. NY's loss is very much our gain.

How are the Republicans going to do that? I've been thinking about this issue for a long while, and I haven't a clue. I think it starts with campaigning places Republican candidates don't normally campaign and talking to people Republicans don't generally talk to.

I happen to think that's a very good idea Von.

I just can't win, Eric. That's now twice in a row I've misspelled someone's name on the front page. (Thanks, and corrected.)

I think it starts with campaigning places Republican candidates don't normally campaign and talking to people Republicans don't generally talk to.

And saying . . . what, exactly? "Hey, we've been working diligently for years to keep your vote from being counted, but we're cool now"? That the Reagan idolization really has nothing to do with his race baiting? That Jesse Helms was never a Republican? That the most recent Republican candidate for president didn't mean to vote against an MLK holiday?

I would venture to say that the problem is not that Republican's don't campaign in the right places or talk to the right people, it's that there's almost nothing that they could say that wouldn't completely alienate the people who do still vote for them.

I'd probably have posted differently about this even a couple months ago.

But, mostly on livejournal, but spreading out on to some blogs, there has been a lengthy, painful, and fascinating examination of racism and white privilege in science-fiction and science-fiction fandom, running since the middle of January.

Not that this should be any surprise to anyone, but I am a white person who loves science-fiction and I hang out on occasion in science-fiction fandom, and I'd always liked to think of myself as someone who opposed racism and who tried very hard not to be racist.

...and then I started reading, extensively, a lot of very explicit and sometimes very angry and often very hurt posts from people who are not white, who also love science-fiction, and who find science-fiction fandom at times an uncomfortable and often a racist kind of place to hang out, and I... well, at least I'm more conscious of exactly how ignorant I am about how it feels to walk into a room of science-fiction fans, look round, and discover that (once again) you are the only person in the room who isn't white.

So, responding to your post as if you were writing about an organization/a social grouping that I actually cared about, which as it's the Republican party of course I don't on principle, I do recommend some of this. Or all of this.

There is too much to cover in one link, or even six, but on color-blindness (and why it's not a satisfactory solution) there is a round-up of links here: More on RaceFail09 and racism 101, etc.

I would venture to say that the problem is not that Republican's don't campaign in the right places or talk to the right people, it's that there's almost nothing that they could say that wouldn't completely alienate the people who do still vote for them.

CS: I took von to mean that the process of engagement would help the GOP to better its views on race.

If they can do that, they might appeal to more people than they alienate. After all, the crowd likely to be alienated is diminishing every day, while the other group grows at the same rate.

Eric, they might appeal to more people than they alienate. But they certainly will alienate a great number. And while engagement might help the GOP better its views, I think that von was specifically talking about the practical matter of elections and getting black folks to vote Republican, else why would he have said "I think it starts with campaigning places Republican candidates don't normally campaign. . ."? There are finite resources available in a campaign, and you campaign in places because you want them to help you win. You don't go someplace simply because you think it would help your outreach efforts.

And I don't share your optimism regarding the die-off of the latter group, as the GOP since arguably Nixon and certainly since Atwater has very actively engaged in creating more of them to fill the shoes of their elders.

A Republican party that is more practical in its focus, and spends less time on abstract principles, is a Republican party that is going to be more appealing to folks who are not, historically, Republicans.

That's a good one, Von. Oh, wait you were serious?

I sort of believe the answer to C.S.'s "and what do they say" question to involve the proverbial pony

I think it starts with campaigning places Republican candidates don't normally campaign and talking to people Republicans don't generally talk to.

For "talk" read "listen".

And it will take, I think, something like a generation. There's a lot of history to get past.

If conservatives undertake this in the spirit of "how can we get these votes" it won't work.

If they undertake it in the spirit of "who are these people and why isn't what we have to say of interest to them" they will have better luck.

Bon chance.

The practicality of the Republican party was on display here.

But no sooner were copies distributed, than Democrats began blasting away, gleefully pointing to its lack of specific numbers -- except for a proposal to cut tax rates on people earning $100,000 from over 20 percent to 10 percent.

It's fine to talk about Republicans and race, but it seems like a smokescreen to avoid how the Republicans are pathologically unable to consider real world consequences. Do Republicans have a problem with race? Yeah, as they do with anything else in the real world.

It doesn't matter who Republicans reach out to as long as hatemongers like Coulter, Savage, Malkin, Limbaugh et ad nauseam are the face and voice of the party. Steele is a jackass, Keyes is crazy -- fools and crackpots (and possibly shameless opportunists) are the only people of color Republicans can attract.

I would venture to say that the problem is not that Republican's don't campaign in the right places or talk to the right people, it's that there's almost nothing that they could say that wouldn't completely alienate the people who do still vote for them.

Well, I see while previewing that Eric said what I meant to, but I might as well post this anyways:

The change Von is talking about might take a generation to come to fruition. It's not going to help the Republicans that much in the short term. (Although this is more true in some demographics than others.) With that long time scale in mind, I don't know if it's worth worrying so much about the current crop of self-parodies that are driving the GOP into the ground. Their hold on national politics is starting to seriously slip. For example, there's movement within Christianity away from "be fruitful and multiply" towards "replenish the earth". Likewise, Limbaugh is nearly 60; he's going to retire before too much longer.

I don't know what the Republican party will look like 20 years from now, but they'll be more useful and in better shape if they take Von's advice.

I think it's definitely a change that will take a generation, and that it will involve not just listening to people the Republican Party often seems not to listen to, but also to trying to talk to rank and file Republicans about some of the things they say.

More often than not, when I read right-wing blogs and race comes up, people seem to be operating on the assumption that any complaint that anyone makes about racism is presumptively a form of whining and casting oneself as a victim. The problem here is not that it's not sometimes correct to say that about a particular complaint about racism, but having that as one's default assumption can't help the Republicans, I think.

During the last campaign it was striking to me how often African-American's legitimate pride in Obama, and surprise that he looked as though he might win, and being thrilled by his candidacy, was described by people on the right as racism -- as though it were the mirror image of my being thrilled that a white candidate was winning. Which is bizarre: one reason I wouldn't be thrilled by that is that a white person winning would not prove what had until then been unknown: that a white person could win the Presidency in America. Nothing about a white person winning the Presidency would make me think: oh thank God, my country is, at least in this respect, the country I've always wanted to believe that it was. That seems like a pretty crucial point, but it was just ignored by a lot of people who thought that blacks were just being racist.

I think the GOP has to get over things like that, along with actually talking and listening to people they don't normally listening to. Because saying the sorts of things I said above really does (imho) involve a basic failure to put oneself in other people's shoes.

Reform the Party of Bigotry and Xenophobia? You can't get there from here. Without hatred for homos and fear of brown people, they don't have a "base". The Republican Party needs to lose lose lose and die die die.

"saying the sorts of things I said above really does (imho) involve a basic failure to put oneself in other people's shoes." - Hilzoy

A possible definition of Liberalism is the willingness/desire/ability to put oneself "in other people's shoes."

A definition of Republicanism would be just the opposite.

There are finite resources available in a campaign, and you campaign in places because you want them to help you win. You don't go someplace simply because you think it would help your outreach efforts.

This is a long-term effort, C.S. And for those who suggested that I replace "talk" with "listen," my intent is to indicate a conversation. Republicans do need to listen -- yes, they absolutely do -- but they also need to explain their position.

I applaud von's post for being a sincere effort to bridge the gap between Republicans and black voters. Almost every other Republican post I've seen on this topic has been a delusional mishmash of sadly irrelevant history (the Republicans freed the slaves!), wishful Randian thinking (surely we can find the right rhetoric to convince low-income black voters that self-reliance is their only hope!), and cynical wedge politics (blacks hate gays!).

So what would a sincere Republican listening tour of black America cover? I say start with the difference between how blacks and whites perceive race and racism, and how the speaker and context of racial-loaded language matters.

Bluntly, wouldn't it be nice if rank-and-file Republicans could learn the difference between three very different uses of race: a black director pointing out the common movie trope of the "Magic Negro", a cultural critic using this concept to level a serious if controversial critique of how the media portrays a black presidential candidate, and a two white guys with a history of bigoted commentary exploiting that critique to stage a full-on minstrel show mocking that candidate and other black leaders, complete with funny voices and unconcealed glee at the chance to call blacks "Negros"?

Rush Limbaugh isn't the whole Republican party, but I think he and others like him will cheerfully torpedo any effort to broaden the party to include blacks through an actual understanding of how they perceive American society. And though I'd like to hope Republican leaders have gotten so sick of losing that they are ready to cast off the bomb-throwers in their base, I've seen no sign that the Southern dominated rump has even considered that seriously.

Instead, as with gay rights, the only hope for the Republican Party to broaden the tent is generational replacement. Which may not be a huge loss---they need the time to come up with an agenda of any kind.

Isn't there kind of a metaphorical elephant in the living room that is this thread?

The whole thread is about how the Republicans could act to appeal to a more diverse set of Americans, an idea that I fullheartedly support even though I'm a partisan liberal convinced that the Republicans' emerging demographic isolation disadvantages their party, because I believe that the Republicans will get back into power someday, maybe someday very soon, and it'd be really nice if the R party leadership contained more people (heck, even some people) connected to the real world and to modernity when that happens.

But to the extent that everyone is treating this as a chance to weigh the differential appeals that various Republican policy positions have on different demographic categories, it's all a bit silly. For all that I abhor and deride them, I don't think that the Republicans' collective decisions to adhere to trickle-down economic policy and resist environmental protections, among other positions, are the chief cause of the Republicans' current difficulties in reaching out to minorities, immigrants, and gays.

Rather, the topic I don't see discussed above is the Republican Party's deliberate embrace of language and groups that actively exclude these demographic categories. To take a particularly strong example, there's Trent Lott, Senate Majority Leader, celebrating the Dixiecrats in late 2002 - and Trent Lott was unopposed for the Republican nomination again in 2006 and was considered a serious candidate to rejoin the Senate Republican leadership this past winter (he has since announced his intention to retire early to become a lobbyist). It's "Barack The Magic Negro". It's all the demagoguery about illegal immigration, which the Republicans so often discussed in racial rather than legal or economic terms, in an openly xenophobic way that alienated many people otherwise uncomfortable with the phenomenon of undocumented workers.

The Republican Party has adopted positions that cement their grip on a large number of religious whites, mostly in the rural South. But those people aren't a national majority, and the ways the Republican party have chosen to secure their allegiance actively demonize and drive away racial, religious, and lifestyle minorities and thereby also drive away people who perceive those minorities as deserving equal status in society. Discussing the demographic impacts of superficially colorblind Republican policy positions is a useful exercise in its own right, but in terms of the Republicans' need to reach a more diverse audience any such reform is rearranging deck chairs on a demographic Titanic.

Warren Terra, you're right. The simple fact of the matter is that the Republican party will not grow unless it is willing to risk losing a demographic that, up until now, it has been unable to. (This, by the bye, was what the immigration reform debate was really about.)

But there are some hopful signs. McCain stumbled a few times during the campaign, but he has been moving in the right direction. Ken Mehlmen and George W. Bush -- for all their faults -- also started laying the groundwork. But it took a generation to turn the Republican party from a party with a strong secular, northern wing to the current party. It will take a generation to right the course.

Rather, the topic I don't see discussed above is the Republican Party's deliberate embrace of language and groups that actively exclude these demographic categories.

Exactly. To cite a similar example, when Palin speaks to small-town white southern crowds and talks about them being "real Americans," it offends and excludes an awful lot of people, black, white, whatever.

In other words, the problem is broader than just the African-American vote.

Let me name something positive and concrete that might help Republicans: Welfare reform. In particular, drop those pernicious rules that say a mother with children is inelgible for certain types of aid if there is an adult male - the father - living in the house. You could package this reform as a 'family values' sort of deal.

Which I happen to think it is, actually. It's also doable if instead of black urban faces being flashed up on the big screen whenever 'welfare' is referred to, white, rural faces are used. Faces from the mythical Heartland, iow.

How are the Republicans going to do that?

Very short answer: focus on conservative policies that increase economic mobility.

I strongly second Jes' link to Racefail '09. It's well worth the read, especially for socially conscious, "anti-racist" lefties like myself, who might be thinking we can cast the first stone here.

Von - good luck. I look forward to opposing that Republican Party, with not a little trepidation.

I tried a couple times to make
the same point as David but everything I wrote came out so nasty and snarky that I finally just erased it.

So I will try again. My starting point is that I don't think the Republican party really has beliefs and principles beyond comforting the comfortable and exploiting the fears and hates of those suceptible to that sort of exploitation. I think that, other than the haters and religious fanatics, the primary appeal of Republican politicians is to people who don't have much interest in politics beyond keeping their own taxes down while keeping their region's earmnarks and subsidies up.

So how to get a greater diversity of Repulicans? Get a greater diversity of middle and upper class Americans.

Human character being what it is I'm pretty sure that there will be plenty of people of color who, once finacially secure, will start voting to use political power to subsidize themselves while insisting that someone else pay for it.

So yes, get more people of color in the middle and upper classes and you will diversify the Republican party.


Well I still couldn't write that without being nasty and snarky. I hope von is not offended because I really appreciate his posts and the sorts of conversations he starts. I realize that there used to be a sort of good management type of Repubican who wanted to use the power of government to do practical things like infrasctructure and willing to collaborate with Democrats on solving real problems in other areas, although their concern was mostly with the problems of business nad they seemed to have difficulty with any values other than monetary ones. I'm thinking of pols like Dan Evens or former Washington Governor Spellman or our current Republican Secretary of State. (I voted for the latter two, BTW).It would be very good for our politicis if some people like that could get back into the leadership of the Republican party.

Wonkie,

Huh. Interesting.

In his book, Krugman argues that sort of Republican emerged after the New Deal. Once a couple of campaigns felt the pain of campaigning against Social Security, a long series of Republicans ran on platforms like "Well, of course we'll keep these new programs, but we'll manage them properly."

A possible definition of Liberalism is the willingness/desire/ability to put oneself "in other people's shoes."

A definition of Republicanism would be just the opposite.

Speaking for myself, I try to just take other people's shoes away from them, so that I can put myself in them in the privacy of my own dressing room.

The ones that don't fit, I recycle into new tennis courts.

I strongly second Jes' link to Racefail '09. It's well worth the read, especially for socially conscious, "anti-racist" lefties like myself, who might be thinking we can cast the first stone here.

I've been following the SF/race brouhaha as well, but I have no problem throwing the first stone. Having trouble acknowledging one's own issues with prejudice is one thing; blatantly attempting to deny people of color of their right to vote is an entirely different ball game.

(As an aside, I think one of the things that exacerbated Racefail was that some of the most vocal POC fans in this instance were unfortunately fans with a long and storied history of saying extremely stupid and strident things in other contexts, who in this case actually happened to be mostly in the right. It's generally hard to agree with someone when they have a track record of unbridled idiocy, no matter how in the right they might be.)

Over at the recently departed and little noticed Culture11, there was some discussion as to what being Republican meant. I read a fair bit about various now-dead philosophers, and virtually nothing about the application of those philosophies to issues facing today.

I also hear constantly about the following core principles of the Republican party:

abortion: bad. (IVF: no comment.)
illegal immigration: bad. (prosecuting employers of illegal immigrants, breaking up families with anchor babies, paths to citizenship: no comment.)
war in Iraq: mostly ok. (creating a new Iranian ally in the Gulf: no comment.)
taxation: bad. (balancing the budget in light of defense and very popular entitlement programs: no commment.)
tax cuts for wealthy: good. (proven failure of Laffer curve: no comment.)
minimum wage, Medicare, Medicaid, Soc.Sec., OSHA, unemployment assistance, housing vouchers, other components of social safety net: bad. (Life in the US in the 1890s: no comment.)
federal intervention in health care funding: bad. (40+million uninsured, really high health care costs on the rest and significant restrictions on the mobility of labor: no comment.)
deficit spending: irrelevant (or bad, depending on the party ID of the president).
global warming: a lie. (physics: shhh.)

So, thoughtful Republicans seem to want to debate 19th century philosophy while the party faithful seem utterly unconnected to reality.

Yah, race is a problem for thoughtful Republicans. But it's part of a much larger problem that the party faithful are espousing a set of positions that seem utterly disconnected not only to the post-Depression era but to the whole Enlightenment. Just how many creationists holding positions of authority across the country are Democrats?

At some point you have got to be known by the friends you keep. The FSM knows that the California Legislature has some really (really, really) dumb Democrats in office. But the Republicans! yikes.

After all, the crowd likely to be alienated is diminishing every day, while the other group grows at the same rate.

And yet, the infamous "Harold, call me" was only a few years back. Not only is the Southern GOP holding hands with this crowd under the table, when the chips are down they're making out in the corner booth. And the Southern GOP is the heart of the party these days.

I don't even know why parties are tempted towards the most inacessible groups; it's like watching the Dems court evalgelical voters. I suspect it's about self-identity- parties like to think of themselves as offering something for everyone, so the idea that there's a group where over 90% think you're the damn devil incarnate is difficult to accept. It's like straight guys with a thing for lesbians or something. The GOP would be much better of chasing the Latino and Asian vote IMO. (Otoh, maybe coming to terms with the black community is the knot at the center of the problem, who knows. Im not a political genious like Karl Rove).

But I do think that von's got the cart before the horse; you don't need many blacks in the party in order to highlight both the policies and the attitudes which drive blacks away. It's not subtle, you do not need a conversation to figure it out.
Once the racists no longer feel confortable playing "Barack the Magic Negro", once the candidates don't feel comfortable smearing their opponent's race, once the GOP is championing policies that aren't viewed as destructive to the black community- then maybe work on the outreach.

Now, you might be able to use that conversation to drive some of these changes, I dunno. But my sense is that a lot of this has to come from within. When GOP voters see a racial smear and reject it, when the right-wing talking heads call the candidate out for it- then the party will have changed.

von: This is a long-term effort, C.S. And for those who suggested that I replace "talk" with "listen," my intent is to indicate a conversation. Republicans do need to listen -- yes, they absolutely do -- but they also need to explain their position.

Er... no.

The notion that more black people would join the Republican party if only they understood is deeply patronizing. I don't think that black people have any problem understanding that wealthy people find it benefits them to vote Republican, and that Republican politicians find it beneficial electorally to foment racism among poorer white voters to give them a reason to vote Republican. It's just that you have to be a pretty wealthy black person - and a natural conservative - not to care that the party you support regards you as meat to throw to the base. As wonkie says: as the rich and the middle-class become more diverse, there will be more black Republicans: but also, as blatant racism becomes less and less socially acceptable, it will become less useful to Republican politicians to stir it up among white voters.

I agree with those who say that this will take a generation, but I'd be just as happy if it never happened at all and the last whiny Republican who tried to get elected using racism, homophobia, and misogyny as stirring tools, died like Screaming Lord Sutch, and the US ended up a two-party country with right and left parties rather than right and ultra-right.

But, totally supportive of your personal effort to change racism around you! Just don't think it begins with your having anything to say...

Mightgodking, as an aside, I think one of the things that exacerbated Racefail was that some of the most vocal POC fans in this instance were fans who had grown to resent having anything they said typed as "extremely stupid and strident" and "unbridled idiocy" by smug white fans who knew better and didn't have any problem at all smacking down those POC fans who were interrupting the important conversations happening...

...and as a feminist, I recognized the technique. Also, as a lefty who was being "extremely stupid", "strident", and generally guilty of "unbridled idiocy" about the dangers of Guantanamo Bay as early as January 2002. The people who have the dominant narrative can always dismiss those annoying people who don't as "strident" - and fail to listen. And then, of course, claim the people who were right all along weren't listened to because we had the wrong "tone".

A possible definition of Liberalism is the willingness/desire/ability to put oneself "in other people's shoes."

A definition of Republicanism would be just the opposite.

Beauty Pageant Advocacy is all they know; only if it's hit them or a close family member or friend, then they become the first sponsor of all the bills that support their tragic experience.

I don't think, at this point, that it really matters what Republicans say to blacks. Blacks aren't listening. There was even some polling done during the last campaign showing that, where Republican positions are more appealing to blacks than Democratic positions, blacks simply attribute them to the Democratic party, in defiance of the parties' actual stances.

You can't win in a climate like that, to persuade, you need to be talking to somebody who's listening.

The natural consequence of this, of course, is that since blacks aren't actually open to the Republican party, and are going to assume the worst of the GOP (And the best of the Democratic party.) regardless of what it actually says or does, there's no point in the Republican party actually TRYING to make blacks happy. It's just wasted effort that could be spent on somebody whose mind is still open.

Am I blaming blacks here? Yeah, actually. Blacks have no civic obligation to like Republicans, and vote Republican. But they've got an obligation to themselves to pay enough attention to notice which party is saying the things they agree with. It's not always the Democratic party.

Jes - been well aware of the inherent passive-racism and avoidance within the Sci-fi community - I was part of a largish sci-fi club in college, and we've maintained close contact post graduation ... it's probably easier for people to contemplate the group as a co-ed geeky fraternity in the oldest, original sense.

We almost always have at most (as we joke, in our self-awareness) one token Asian, one token black (slight hyperbole, but not much). And they have never felt uncomfortable, however, after a long party I got to hear from J. (who is black) about what it is like being a gaming geek and black and how many groups like having him around as the actual token black guy.

And it is changing, slowly, as gaming and geekery is mostly a middle-upper income interest - and there are more artists and writers who are bringing that in - there are RPGs out there where instead of the indo-European skin coloration being the norm, darker tones were the norm, with the pale skins were the rarity - and it was never called out as blatant, it was just a design decision.

Okay I've probably rambled too much about this tangent.

Brett, I wrote a long comment upthread proposing that differential appeals and effects of Republican or Democratic policies are not the most important issue here, as groups that feel actively excluded from consideration by either party aren't likely to then say "but wait, I do prefer their position on school vouchers".
It seems you agree with me about the situation, although I'd not be at all surprised if we didn't agree about its origins. Then, having made this diagnosis, rather than even attempt to question the origins of the situation you choose instead to wash your hands of the recalcitrant demographic category: they "aren't listening", after all, and that's apparently the end of the story. I submit to you that being a party that is constitutionally incapable of reaching whole demographic categories regardless of ideology is not a good strategy, and that for the party in question to simply accept such a situation is not wise.
Furthermore, to the extent that members of some demographic category feel profoundly unwelcome in a party, that party will not only fail to reach members of that category (including members whose policy ideas are highly compatible with the party); the party will also find itself having trouble with people who aren't members of that demographic category but who are upset by its overt exclusion. Again, not a good plan.

A definition of Republicanism would be just the opposite.

Allen Raymond was convicted of phone jamming for the Republican party in NH. In a recent interview, he articulated the Republican point of view as follows:

"Self-interest within the rule of law"

It's the American way, he said.

Not the ideal spokesman due to his criminal behavior, but *to my ears* his characterization of the current day Republican conservative ethic rang 100% true.

And for those who suggested that I replace "talk" with "listen," my intent is to indicate a conversation. Republicans do need to listen -- yes, they absolutely do -- but they also need to explain their position.

As you wish. By all means, try it your way.

I don't think, at this point, that it really matters what Republicans say to blacks. Blacks aren't listening.

To put a point on Warren Terra's excellent reply to this:

If you represented a party that sought by every means it could find to prevent middle aged balding white suburban guys from New England from voting, I might not listen to you either.

Just saying.

I note that the conservative responses in this thread run from "we need to explain ourselves better", to "it's their problem, they need to change".

Did I say it will take a generation? Make it three.

The problem is not the blacks, dudes.

The notion that more black people would join the Republican party if only they understood is deeply patronizing.

I agree with you, Jes. But that wasn't the kind of conversation I was talking about. Everyone, regardless of color, have a pretty good idea regarding what Republican policy is. But Republicans need to do is explain why they think certain policies are good ideas, even through they disproprotionately harm African-Americans; because the off-the-cuff explanations that I've heard range from "they're racists" to "they're ignorant". Once you get into the conversation, however, there's frequently a great deal of common ground -- and improvements to Republican policy become possible.

Republicans have to build up the trust deficit. Because, even on policies in which they should be winning "the black vote"* (school vouchers, welfare reform), they are loing.

*There is no such thing as a monolithic "black vote". In my experience, there are a lot of black folks who have concluded for very pragmatic and rational reasons that, however much they may agree with certain Republican policies, it is not in their best interest to vote Republican.

And to reiterate: I took von to be suggesting that, through conversation, the GOP might be motivated to modify certain positions due to a greater understanding of the particular group's perspective.

A Republican party that is more practical in its focus, and spends less time on abstract principles...

In short, a Republican party actually interested in governing a contemporary America, which is, of course, increasingly urban and decreasingly white. The national Republican party seems to me to have lost interest in governing around 1980. It has taken longer, but the state and local levels of the party also seem to have lost, or at least are losing, interest in trying to solve problems.

I'd like to have a serious conservative party around, since I think there are legitimate conservative positions on the size and complexity of government, how federal and state responsibilities should be divided, etc. But it's hard to take seriously a party whose position is that there's only one domestic problem -- the government -- and only one solution -- dismantle the government or otherwise restrict its ability to function.

Jeez, my 9:10 am comment contained a crazy number of typos. Hope my meaning was clear.

Mightgodking, as an aside, I think one of the things that exacerbated Racefail was that some of the most vocal POC fans in this instance were fans who had grown to resent having anything they said typed as "extremely stupid and strident" and "unbridled idiocy" by smug white fans who knew better and didn't have any problem at all smacking down those POC fans who were interrupting the important conversations happening...

Jes, when I say "extremely stupid and strident," race has nothing to do with it. Some of the most prominent engagees in Racefail are fans notorious for total misunderstandings of legal, political or scientific issues, willingness to engage in abusive flaming over practically nothing (and certainly nothing so hot-button an issue as race), and just flat-out ignorance in any number of areas.

It didn't help that Racefail happened at the same time as the collapse of the scans_daily comics community, wherein again those prominent engagees in Racefail were demonstrating a total lack of understanding of, among other things, copyright law and basic ethics.

And again: they were largely correct on the merits of their arguments re: Racefail. That doesn't change the fact that in the past they have been reliably and frequently entertainingly stupid.

(I heartily remember how one such poster on Livejournal once claimed that a given comic by Christopher Priest was evidence of "white privilege." Priest, FYI, is black.)

Some of the most prominent engagees in Racefail are fans notorious for total misunderstandings of legal, political or scientific issues, willingness to engage in abusive flaming over practically nothing (and certainly nothing so hot-button an issue as race), and just flat-out ignorance in any number of areas.

True. But, if you notice, those people - one of whom banned me from her journal for the "crime" of posting three explanatory links to someone who had asked what was going on - have one and all been taking what might call the "opposition" side to RaceFail - and no, they were not "right".

And again: they were largely correct on the merits of their arguments re: Racefail. That doesn't change the fact that in the past they have been reliably and frequently entertainingly stupid.

I do not recognize anyone prominent in "RaceFail" who matches that description. I recognize that many boyfans, accustomed to regarding the doings of women and minorities as something of no interest and often "entertainingly stupid", have treated RaceFail as unimportant precisely because it originated in a group of fans they are accustomed to dismissing and insulting. It's a whole other area of Fail and WTF, but it's your problem, not theirs.

It didn't help that Racefail happened at the same time as the collapse of the scans_daily comics community, wherein again those prominent engagees in Racefail were demonstrating a total lack of understanding of, among other things, copyright law and basic ethics.

Huh. (1) Scans_daily didn't collapse, it just moved to Insanejournal (2) The problem it had on livejournal seemed to be a problem Peter David had with fans who didn't like his work - and of course the temerity of women comics fans and POC comics fans in venturing to express an opinion at all when white men are there to tell us what we ought to think.

(I heartily remember how one such poster on Livejournal once claimed that a given comic by Christopher Priest was evidence of "white privilege." Priest, FYI, is black.)

I didn't know there was a comics author called Christopher Priest who is black: there may have been some confusion with the white British SF author...

von: Republicans have to build up the trust deficit. Because, even on policies in which they should be winning "the black vote"* (school vouchers, welfare reform), they are loing.

Why would school vouchers - a policy intended to defund the worst schools, ensuring that more and more of the poorest children in the US get a worse and worse education - be expected to appeal to black voters especially? Do Republicans feel that black parents loathe educating their children so much that they'll be happy to vote for Republican policies to ensure their children get worse-educated?

As for Republican "welfare reform", aren't all Republican policies for "welfare reform" intended to ensure that the people who most need help don't get it? Again, why would this be expected to appeal to black voters?

Poverty in the US has a racial bias. Republican policies do not support poor people. Black people who got up to the middle class with the help and support of liberal policies, will need to get very far from their origins and their communities to want to support the Republican policies ensuring those who are poor stay poor, and those who are disadvantaged have disadvantaged children.

Everyone, regardless of color, have a pretty good idea regarding what Republican policy is. But Republicans need to do is explain why they think certain policies are good ideas

The core of government is spending. Enlighten me, please, as to why, during the Bush years, it was a good idea to run a deficit.

But, if you notice, those people - one of whom banned me from her journal for the "crime" of posting three explanatory links to someone who had asked what was going on - have one and all been taking what might call the "opposition" side to RaceFail

There's been stupid on both sides to be sure, but I was thinking along the lines of Kali or Willow, both of whom have a long history of arrogant and self-righteous stupidity that is truly breathtaking, and both of whom have been in the forefront of the "plaintiff" side of Racefail.

(2) The problem it had on livejournal seemed to be a problem Peter David had with fans who didn't like his work - and of course the temerity of women comics fans and POC comics fans in venturing to express an opinion at all when white men are there to tell us what we ought to think.

This is an interesting revision of what actually happened. Somebody was rude to Peter David (which is generally a bad idea, because Peter David is A) thin-skinned and B) quick to over-react) and he responded by reporting s_d to Marvel Comics, who got the whole schmeer shut down.

Speaking as somebody who was arguing at length with David and who finds his self-aggrandizing arguing style (and tendency towards martyrship) at times irritating, let me assure you: he was being dismissive in that debate not because fans of color were engaging with him (which is not to say that he isn't potentially capable of such); he was being dismissive because he's Peter David.

but I was thinking along the lines of Kali or Willow, both of whom have a long history of arrogant and self-righteous stupidity that is truly breathtaking

Don't know Kali (or recognize the name from RaceFail): I know and like Willow, and find your description of her... revealing, to say the least.

The "arrogance and self-righteous stupidity" I saw on display in RaceFail was here, here, and here (where I committed slightly NSFW filk).

he was being dismissive because he's Peter David.

As several people noted, it's sometimes hard to tell...

I know and like Willow, and find your description of her... revealing, to say the least.

I was maybe being a bit harsh there, because truthfully I go back and forth on Willow. Her commentary on racial issues in fandom is invaluable and I thought her posts on the Avatar whitewashing were excellent; unfortunately it's combined with general fan commentary that ranges from meaningless to ridiculous. (Complaining that Blu-Ray exclusive features are "gouging," for example? Hyperbole, and hyperbole in service of something about as minor and meaningless as it gets.)

And like it or not, she is rude, extremely so, (and I don't consider "rude" to be a de facto minus), and gets incredibly defensive whenever someone suggests that said rudeness might potentially be counterproductive to her stated goal of changing attitudes. Frequently said defensiveness is framed in accusations of privilege, which is just an ad hominem response.

Mightygodking: Hyperbole, and hyperbole in service of something about as minor and meaningless as it gets.

Oh, now you're reaching! Unless you can swear, hand on hearts, that you never in your whole mighty god king life ever committed hyperbole because you got annoyed about something - that every single word you ever committed to Internets was always measured, meaningful, appropriate, and to the point - why then, you have no ground to stand on for condemning other people for doing the same: and if you are prepared to swear you've never done what you condemn Willow for, why then I condemn you as a perjuring liar...

(Isn't this offtopic? Aren't we meant to be fighting the Republicans on this thread, not each other?)

Am I blaming blacks here? Yeah, actually. Blacks have no civic obligation to like Republicans, and vote Republican. But they've got an obligation to themselves to pay enough attention to notice which party is saying the things they agree with. It's not always the Democratic party.

Funny how you manage to miss the very bad things that Republicans have done and still consistently do to blacks in your assessment. Is it surprising to you that black people think badly of a party that engages in race-baiting? And you condescendingly think they should overlook this rather significant flaw in order to re-assess the GOP and its many potential benefits to them?
I don't know what the American Nazi Party's stance is on the bailout. I don't care, it would be a waste of time for me to know, since I find their racism repugnant enough that I cannnot imagine pulling the lever for them under any possible circumstances. Not knowing their positions is a rational position for me, not a civic failing.
Many blacks feel that way about the GOP. It's not them, it's you.

You see, von- when this is mainstream Republicianism you can have all of the conversations you want & it will not matter. The mainstream does not even want to have the conversation; if blacks want to forgive the GOP their continuing bad acts and come crawling to the party Brett is happy to have them, but he's not going to disavow race-baiting tactics in order to make that happen. He conveniently doesn't even notice that they exist; they escape his analysis.

(Isn't this offtopic? Aren't we meant to be fighting the Republicans on this thread, not each other?)

Entirely on point. ERIC CANTOR IS DUM

If the Republican Party were semi-true to its allegedly libertarian roots and disavowed the combination of our absurd War on Drugs and our fascistly punitive correctional system, I think it could make a lot of headway with the African-American community, the chief victims in those two areas. If von and Douthat are willing to roll with that, more power to their efforts, and I applaud them for it. Until then, though, its track record on crime, economics, government assistance, and race makes it highly rational for African Americans to tune them out. To the extent Brett or others would like to call them out on that, I disagree and think they're being appropriately skeptical. The Republican Party, with periodic noises about diversity, took a turn with the Southern Strategy and never looked back. I don't see blaming black people for their disenchantment with that as being especially fair, productive or even intelligent.

Brett - Is this the poll you were talking about?

If so, it would appear that Republicans' best approach to blacks would be through Christianity. This approach might work very well, since church congregations in the U.S. are so unsegregated.

von, I applaud your desire to bring the Republicans back into the American mainstream, but I think your only option at this point is to borrow the Doctor's TARDIS, travel back to 1969, and convince Richard Nixon that the Southern Strategy may be a winner in the short-to-medium term, but in the long term it's going to cause the GOP to go the way of the Whigs.

david: If so, it would appear that Republicans' best approach to blacks would be through Christianity. This approach might work very well, since church congregations in the U.S. are so unsegregated.

*grin*

Plus, there's the problem that to a conservative, there doesn't seem to be any step between "Their behavior is immoral!" and "So we should persecute them and take away their civil rights!" but many black Americans appear to have a difficulty getting from Point A: "What that person is doing is immoral and I disapprove of it as a Christian" to Point B: "I want that person persecuted, rubbished, insulted, and basic rights taken away from them!"

Obviously, the failure of black Americans to take this obvious and natural step from A to B proves that they haven't been listening to decent, right-wing Christians who know their Bible. Wonder why?

Amazingly, just the other day in the "Shameful" thread, Brett Bellmore said:

You don't get to screw people over, send a lynch mob after them, arrange for them to be in fear of their lives, AND still have them be your friends and allies.

Not even if they deserved it, which most of them don't.

Apparently this is a privilege which extends only to rich, white derivatives traders, and not to black people, who have had to suffer historically from ACTUAL lynch mobs, and not hysterically metaphorical ones.

Admittedly this thread is long dead. But I wanted to post this here for people to remember:

This is similar but not identical to a point I’ve often made: that the Republican Party is the party of people who are considered, by themselves and by others, as normal Americans—Northern white Protestants in the 19th century, married white Christians more recently—while the Democratic Party is the party of the out groups who are in some sense seen, by themselves and by others, as not normal—white Southerners and Catholic immigrants in the 19th century, blacks and white seculars more recently. Thus it’s natural for the Democrats to be more fissiparous. (Emphasis added by me)

h/t Balloon Juice and Washington Monthly.

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