The GOP divides with race, the Democrats need to unite with it.

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All men are created equal. Some are just more equal than others.  Old Joke

Most pundits are fond of saying that the 2020 election will be a “base” election. Then again, most pundits, including me, have our heads so far up our asses that we can see our lungs. Reference how many times we’ve all predicted Trump’s certain demise for some stupid thing he’s said or done. But when you come right down to it, every election is a “base” election, who can turn out their base supporters, and hopefully snag a share of the ever dwindling pool of true “independent” or “undecided” voters out there. And 2020 will be no different.

But as we all know, raw numbers are not always dispositive. Hillary Clinton garnered almost three million more votes that His Lowness, and yet The Great Pumpkin still occupies the White House, due to the vagaries of an antiquated electoral college system. It’s not always a matter of how many you turn out in electoral politics as where you turn them out.

Every time I mention the contention that race is an issue that may not work out well for Trump and the GOP in 2020, I am respectfully reminded in the comments that the use of race is nothing new for the Republicans, in fact, they’ve been thriving on it for more than 40 years. And I have repeatedly agreed with that. But as I remind people, the systemic racism that the GOP has successfully exploited for nearly a half a century comes with a thin veneer of respectability and whitewash to it. Nixon spoke of “law and order,” and Reagan of “welfare queens.” But here’s something else for the race nay sayers to chew on, and it’s something more dispositive.

Simple question. If Trump’s vitriolic rhetoric and actions against “shithole countries,” and crumbling, mostly minority large cities, and Mexican drug runners, murderers and rapists are such a 100%, guaranteed winner for the GOP in 2020, hell, even in 2018, then why aren’t more mainstream Republicans in the House and Senate rallying behind Trump with those statements? They aren’t parroting Trump. In fact, they’re fleeing from him, for one simple reason. Because that shit only works for Trump, and with his base. For everybody else out there in GOPland, it’s pure, undiluted poison, and they know it.

Race is going to be an issue in this election for one reason, and one reason only. Because Donald Trump made it one. And he’s going to keep right on doing it, to try to keep his base motivated, and the hell with everybody else on the GOP side. But properly used, it can also rev up the Democratic minority base. There’s a damn good reason why Republicans like to claim that Democrats are “playing the race card” all of the time. Because every time the Democrats bring it up, the GOP has just done or said something stupidly racist that they can’t afford to get caught at.

A simple reminder. In 2016, Donald Trump won the electoral college by a combined 77,000 votes spread over three states, WI, MI, and PA. A statistical comparison shows that if Hillary Clinton had motivated African American voters in Milwaukee the way that Barack Obama did in 2012, she would have blown Trump out in WI. The same thing with Detroit and Philadelphia. We wouldn’t have kids in cages, a trade war with China, and the unfettered destruction of the existing structure of the United States government. And that’s just those three states, that’s not even calculating things like minority turnout in places like Ohio and North Carolina.

And it’s not only confined to African American voters either. In 2016, Beto O’Rourke threw enough of a scare into Ted Cruz that he had to stoop to the level of degrading himself at Trump’s feet on stage at a rally in Texas. Texas GOP incumbents are dropping like flies in House races for 2020. Even if an energized, engaged Hispanic population in Texas doesn’t flip it blue in 2020, it sure as hell could flip more U.S. House seats blue, as well as state legislature seats. And don’t even get me started on Arizona and Florida.

I’m not saying that the Democrats should run solely on race nationally in 2020, in fact, far from it. The Democrats still have to speak to and solve kitchen table issues, infrastructure, drug costs, wages, and healthcare. But they can do that by touting their own plans’ benefits, without bashing each other over the head. But Trump is going to continue to inject race into this campaign, if only to keep his poll numbers steady with his base, and the Democrats can use that. It doesn’t have to be front and center, but a reference in each speech about Trump’s latest verbal diarrhea on race, with a strong condemnation of such talk, will remind voters that along with everything else, this election is a referendum on what kind of a country we aspire to be. And the more that the Democrats needle him with it, the more unhinged with it he’ll become. And the entire GOP will suffer for the sins of the Father.

Look, like it or not, the midiclorians of race are going to be swirling around the 2020 election like a halo. And the one who can best master and marshal them will be swinging the largest light saber. And by now we’re all painfully aware of the pathetic size of Darth Trumper’s light saber.  Racism can rally not only the Democratic base, but independent and “soft” voters in a way that obstruction of justice and Russian collusion never could. After all, nobody but a MAGA moron wants to be identified as a racist. If Trump is going to hand us that hammer, we’d be fools not to use it.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Murfster35, I love it when you talk like that, you give me hope. Let’s hope those who move the masses are paying attention and people of all colors and backgrounds vote for personal dignity and true Patriotism. America needs to move on and if trumpers, bigots n supremacists stay behind with the emperor w/no clothes, well they’re just as demeaned as he, only there are choosers and loosers. Eventually necessity will show them the light. We’ll all be that far ahead. Neither progress nor evolution can be stopped though demagogues try time after time. History proves them wrong and eternally ridiculous. Trump will always be remembered as the faux diktator with the gilded toilet flusher installed in the White House, great feat indeed.

    • Always glad to be of aid and comfort…And as much as I’m glad it hit a chord with you, I too hope it hits a chord :out there”…Because race IS going to be an issue in this ampaign, and to me it sonds ike too damn many Democrats are afraid to utilize it effectively for fear of being “called out” by the GOP…Shit!!! They’re going to be called out anyway, may as well be shot for a lion as a lamb, and win the elec tion while we’re at it…

  2. Coming out of 2020, the “Republican Party” is either going to become the “Party of Racists” or split into 2, the old-school racist alt-right branch, versus the economic conservative, socially liberal branch. I can think of nothing more fitting for Trump’s legacy, that for all else he destroyed, he will destroy the unity of the Republican party. It is true that he has over 90% approval rating “among Republicans,” but my bet is that there are far fewer people identifying as “Republican” nowadays.

    • I have been saying since Trump won the nominatin that after him, the party will have to reconstitute…Trump has branded this party with overt, belligerent racism, just as he befouls everything ELSE he touches…Once Trump is gone, the GOP as it is can’t win nationally, since no one wants to be associated with a “racist” party of Trump, even if his idiot supporters crawl back under their rocks…The GOP will remain a rum party, capable of winning statewide Senate seats and Hose seats as long as gerrymandering lasts, but true, “conservatives” are going to have to go through the process of creating and building a true party of their own, which will one day overtake the GOP…

  3. Up through the end of WWII both the Republican & Democratic Parties had different sub-groups including a quite racist one. The Democratic Party actually had the larger of the two via its “‘Southern Democrats” block which was large in both geography and numbers. One must always keep in mind that during the formation of the GOP and the Civil War the abolitionist wing were frequently considered “radicals” even by other elements of their own Party.

    With FDR the racist, southern Democratic portion of our Party adhered to an uneasy alliance with him because they liked being in power. With FDR’s death that uneasy alliance itself started to die. Truman’s integration of the Armed Forces had the effect of forcing members of our Party to start seriously weighing their options, and Strom Thurmond’s “Dixiecrat” (yes, he was a Democrat once upon a time) broke things wide open. The southern Democrats were largely fiscal conservatives to begin with and the pro-business and limited government philosophy of the GOP was appealing. However, during the fifties and well into the sixties the GOP had a significant number of moderates often referred to at the “northeastern liberals” which held significant influence. They weren’t all northeastern. Like Murfster I remember Senator Dirksen (the guy that Senate office bldg. is named for) from my home state of Illinois who helped LBJ get the Civil and Voting Rights Acts passed. That struggle was one more insane piece of turbulence in a particularly turbulent decade in this country, and LBJ famously noted when signing Civil Rights legislation that he was signing the death warrant of the Democratic Party in the south. But again, their were conservative Democrats in other places too although the bulk of them were in the same south that would become the “southern strategy” Nixon so effectively managed and so many Republicans have counted on since.

    Anyway what had been a trickle of Democrats shifting over to the GOP picked up steam at that point and with the election of Reagan it turned into a steady stream. As I recall the last holdout on the Hill was Richard Shelby of Alabama who not all that long after winning re-election as a Democrat switched to the GOP. That was pretty much the conclusion of the re-alignment of the two major Political Parties in this country. And so here we are.

    As has been noted by many people here an elsewhere including me the GOP spent decades skillfully using racism to maintain a hold on the white vote. It’s worth keeping in mind that no Democrat, not even Carter (from freaking GEORGIA) won the white vote on the way to the WH since the Civil and Voting Rights Acts were passed. No, Clinton (Bill) didn’t either. NO Democratic candidate has done so to my knowledge. With more women voting our way we have a shot this time around to make it very close at least and that will be more than enough.

    As a white guy who had a dyed in the wool hard-core KKK grandfather who was upset at having to semi-behave even in southern Illinois (alas, the town the Klan settled him in happened to be the hometown of General John A. Logan!) I know all too well the feelings that have been just under the surface even in northern states for so long. I also know human nature and accept the fact that people in general are not only resistant to change, but really resist when it comes to admitting things (even if only to themselves) about a level of inner racism they so often don’t even realize they possess. Think about the old “But I have black friends” thing. Many of them have people of color they know who truly are friends, but when it comes to strangers….

    So in the end I believe a candidate that can, in an uplifting way cause such people to think about what they were conditioned to believe since they can remember and imagine a country in which they give everyone and not just people of color they grew up and became friends with back in school the benefit of the doubt, the blatant racism of Trump and his MAGA goobers will at least make them think. And not just “I’m not a racist. I’m not like THEM” but beyond that. It might make them think about all the viral videos we see of MAGAts deciding to confront people and yes, sometimes even murder them with assault weapons or other guns or even knives and wonder if maybe the country as a whole DOES need to grow, and more openly confront all the subtle ways in which the system is rigged against non-whites. To compare the people of color the KNOW are good people, and wonder to themselves whether they’ve always been fair to so many just because they didn’t personally know them.

    And think maybe, just maybe a President who talks about this being a country for all of us and has a history of trying to make sure everyone gets the fair shot people of my generation remember being promised matters more than a fucking tax cut (which they never seem to see anyway) or RWNJ activist judges.

    Maybe.

    One thing for certain is that both major Parties are pretty well defined when it comes to race. The difference between now and pre-WWII is that the Democratic Party is still the larger of the two but most of the openly racist assholes are gone and over in the GOP. Independents have been breaking our way, but there is still a vast and untapped pool of voters out there who would favor us (don’t kid yourselves btw – while Latinos seem a natural fit with us it’s not by the same margin as African Americans) if we can get them signed up and motivated to vote. That btw includes quite a few white folks in ruby red places that don’t bother with politics because they don’t see how their vote would matter.

    • Your post makes me think of a recent book by political scientist and researcher Michael Tesler on identity politics. He has some really fascinating data in his findings.

      The basic premise is that more broadly than “racist” or “non-racist,” you have white voters who are either racial conservatives or racial liberals, the distinction being more or less whether one believes that discrimination plays a central role in holding back minority groups or individuals.

      So the population of racial conservatives is much larger than just racists…it includes people who may oppose racism, but just don’t think discrimination is as big a problem as some would suggest. There are a lot of racial conservatives, for example, in the Sanders coalition…white voters who want the focus to be on healthcare, climate and income inequality over racial issues.

      Back to 2008, the nomination and election of President Obama…per Tesler…set into motion a major realignment of the political parties. Before 2007, white voters didn’t sort into the parties based on being a racial conservative or liberal. Both parties had large populations of either type of voter. But in 2008 – 2016, a massive population of racial conservatives shifted to the GOP, culminating in the tipping point in the Electoral College. At the same time, but at a much slower pace, white racial liberals have moved to the Democrats, culminating in the 2018 landslide.

      I’m not sure where this all takes us in the longterm. It’s clear that it’s not healthy for the parties to be defined by race, or for white identity to become its own political party. But undoing this realignment…which Trump took advantage of and has exacerbated…will be a difficult project.

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