Race, Elections and 2010
Both political parties are asshats that use race for political advantages. Democrats in particular tend to assume minorities will always side with them and while they pander to the needs of minorities, they place bandages to the problems with no real intent on creating pathways for change and upward mobility for minorities who are in destitute positions. Democrats also tend to play too much to the poor non-whites and have largely ignored the poor whites in that same manner. There are plenty of social welfare programs available but nothing that really leads to upward mobility except, perhaps, the general access to loans for school which, sadly, is a choice too many in the poverty class do not consider a possibility even when they’re not burdened with excessive work hours to manage a family.
The Republicans, on the other hand, take advantage of the existence of racial discomfort and racism that persists throughout the US, particularly in the south and, sadly, growingly in parts of the mid-west and the far west. Ever since the Democrats championed de-segregation, they lost the southern Democrats who joined the Republicans. During that election cycle, Goldwater lost the election because he believed in a state’s right to choose to segregate (even if he disapproved of segregation specifically; that’s neither here nor there). Goldwater won the south but lost the rest of the country and garnered one of the biggest political losses in American history as a result. What Republicans learned from that was they needed to maintain the south which largely voted Democrat until then but also court the rest of the country back into the party. What they devised, then, was dog whistle politics that would sound good to most of their old patrons but still also sound like the right thing to court the bitter southern voters.
A big part of the reason race is still an issue in 2010 is because that race-baiting dog whistle politics never died. Republicans knew the south would eventually get over desegregation but the racial volatility would still exist, even if diffused throughout the rest of the country instead of staying stuck in the south. Racism isn’t a singularly southern phenomenon in the US; there are some areas of the falsely-labeled liberal California (Bakersfield, , home of Prussian Blue, for example) that make the south look like the most open-minded areas in the world. Republicans also knew that racially-tinged dog whistle terminology would still work because of the existence of racial discomfort and racism. Note that there’s a distinction; one doesn’t have to be racist to feel racial discomfort!
One can easily point to the conservative media trying to paint the Obama administration as racially charged and seemingly like a militant Black Panther presidency (Black Liberation Theology, New Black Panther Party allegations, Shirley Sharrod come to mind). I’d prefer to point to something most wouldn’t catch.
Senator McCain recently made an Arizona border ad for his senatorial campaign doubling as seeking more border security and trumping up the case for tougher immigration policy (despite him being for more reasonable immigration in the past). The advertisement featured Arizona Republican Sheriff Paul Babeu who, apparently, doesn’t even work/represent a border county. In the commercial, the sheriff turns to McCain and tells him: "Senator, you’re one of us!"
That seems innocent enough but if you’re aware of the Republican history with racially-tinged dog whistle terminology, that sentence is blatantly inconspicuous. More proof is in the pudding:
And last July 10th, Sheriff Babeu appeared on a radio show that openly and proudly promotes white supremacism, antisemitism, Holocaust denial and other extreme right wing causes — the vile, ugly Political Cesspool show, a frequent hang-out of David Duke and other leading lights of the white nationalist sub-subculture: AZ Sheriff Babeu appears on a white nationalist program, invites listeners to join his ‘posse’.
Consider that fact and re-read "Senator, you’re one of us!" during a commercial about border security to ensure Latin America immigrants don’t get through.
That’s dog whistle politics and while most Americans won’t get that, those who heard "SEGREGATION!" when they heard the term "state’s rights" spoken by Goldwater during the desegregation era will also hear "Those damn Mexicans!" when they hear "Senator, you’re one of us!"
It’s the egging on of racism and racial discomfort that makes race an issue in the political sphere of 2010. None of this is anything except a ploy to manipulate elections by exciting voters to go out and bark when the whistle blows.