FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

It’s the White Vote, Stupid

I once asked a student what percent of the American population did he think was Black. “At least sixty percent!” He said eagerly.

“Are there any other guesses?” I asked the class. How was I going to talk this young man down?

In fact, 77 percent of voters in the Bush-Kerry-Nader election were white. It is the most obvious reason why the election turned out the way it did.

For white voters and their pundits, however, the stupidity of the election would be experienced as an expectation of politics as usual. “Of course, it’s a stupid election,” they would tell you. “Aren’t all elections stupid?” OK. But every great stupidity has its personality. And not enough folks are talking about the personality of the white vote in the wake of this most recent election.

In fact, the stupidity of American elections to date has been heavily imprinted with the specific personality of white America. Imagine, for instance, any other race of a candidate acting as stupidly as George Bush, performing as poorly, and yet–among white voters–being so well liked.

But if you live in white America, George Bush’s stupidity is the very form of mind necessary and sufficient to constitute political power. That’s why white folks in America could serve up a majority for Bush, unlike Black, Latino, and Asian voters–who would not have re-elected him.

And if I’m wrong about this, why else do you think the South was considered untouchable all year long? The solid South is not solid without a big, fat, white vote. So among elites who claim their latitude to bypass the American South, it sounds like a far better idea to work around this problem. Pressures are enormous to find some other thing to talk about. Take responsibility for transforming the white vote and do it in the South, too? Do you have any idea what you’re talking about?

Only Howard Dean was willing to talk about the Confederate Flag waving white voters down in Dixie. Dean is occasionally discredited on that account (for example, see Chait’s column in today’s LA Times [Nov. 26]). Now that we are four years away from the next Presidential election (Lord willing and the creek don’t rise) it is not yet too late in the election cycle to raise the question–what are we going to do about the white vote? No white Democrat without an answer is smart enough to lead.

“But white voters will dominate the electoral process for decades,” reports Aurelio Rojas in a preview of the California vote. There, Kerry wins 47 percent of the white vote compared to Bush’s 51. In New York, Kerry gets 49 to Bush’s 50. Compare the margins of the Kerry losses among white voters in those progressive states to Texas, where Bush got 74 percent–of the white vote. In none of these states (nor in Illinois for that matter) do white voters favor Kerry, but in the blue states a significant bloc of white voters present themselves to the Democratic Party.

A Massachusetts liberal is such a dangerous spectre to raise among white voters (who are not Massachusetts liberals) because white voters in Massachusetts behave differently. They actually gave a majority to Kerry.

Tom Hayden in a recent essay encourages anti-war activists to “become more grounded in the everyday political life of their districts, organizing anti-war coalitions including clergy, labor and inner city representatives to knock loudly on congressional doors.” But I wonder if this outreach to “inner city representatives” doesn’t hide the political problem that anti-war activists actually have, that is, convincing white voters to favor less belligerent politics.

Perhaps Hayden means to say that anti-war activists should get more grounded in their existing political base. The Congressional Black Caucus, for example, does very well on the war issue already. The CBC and the NAACP were two groups who early on expressed “strong opposition to war” (writes the Associated Press in 2002, archived at NathanielTurner.com). So if it were up to “inner city representatives” there would be no need for an anti-war movement in the first place. And if it were up to black voters, Bush would never have been elected.

So, yes, it was a stupid American election, and many of us did stupid things along the way. Let’s not be so stupid again as to quit working on the transformation of the white vote–especially in the South–until we’ve made Massachusetts liberals of them all.

Back to my student. Obviously, he was an urban youth. For him, sixty percent of life was Black life. And God bless him for not imagining things any differently. I can still recall, after hearing several guesses from the class, that I looked back at him and gave him Perlo’s numbers on percent Black in the USA. It was a cruel moment for the same reason that the election was cruel. And white folks who scoff at Massachusetts liberals should think about the eagerness that falls out of a person’s eyes when he realizes there’s no getting around white folks in the USA.

GREG MOSES writes for the Texas Civil Rights Review. Moses contributed a chapter on civil rights under Clinton and Bush for Dime’s Worth of Difference: Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils. He can be reached at: gmosesx@prodigy.net

 

 

More articles by:

Greg Moses writes about peace and Texas, but not always at the same time. He is author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. As editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review he has written about racism faced by Black agriculturalists in Texas. He can be reached at gmosesx@gmail.com

September 20, 2018
Dean Baker
How to Reduce Corruption in Medicine: Remove the Money
September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail