Commentary: Don't Blame Democrats for Political "Racialization"

A  new op-ed tries to make the claim that Democrats made politics all about race. Nice try, but it didn’t quite go like that.

Posted: 11/30/2012 10:31 AM EST

We told you before that Paul Ryan blames his vice presidential loss on the “urban” turnout ("urban" being a code word for “minorities” of course) and that Mitt Romney has said outright that President Obama offering “gifts” to Blacks, Latinos and young people is what finally put him over the top on Election Day. Both of those bitter pronouncements are ridiculous in their own rights, of course, but this week comes an even more absurd accusation following the GOP’s loss this election cycle.

In a new piece for the Wall Street Journal called “The Racializing of American Politics,” columnist Daniel Henninger actually tries to make the argument that Democrats and liberals are responsible for “racializing” American politics. “The truth is that no prominent Democrat since Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan has been willing to sustain opposition to this constant racializing of American politics and culture,” Henninger, the Journal’s deputy editorial page editor, wrote. He continued:

The Democrats' insistence on pandering to political categories is a dead end for the country. Rather than spinning their own Rubik's Cube of race, gender and ethnicity, Republicans should start growing their share of the electorate by doing a better job of telling people how to succeed in the American melting pot, a wonderful organizing idea now mocked as a "myth" by progressive Democrats.

It’s pretty rich for anyone to try and claim that the Democrats are responsible for “racializing” politics any more than the Republican Party, which, insidiously and infamously, instituted the “Southern strategy” in order to win elections. In deference to those who don’t know, the Southern strategy was an idea concocted to drive a wedge between white Southern voters and minority groups, like Blacks and women.

In a 1970 interview with the New York Times, Republican strategist Kevin Phillips outright admitted to winning votes based on racial divisions:

From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that...but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are. Without that prodding from the Blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.

If anyone wants to accuse the Democrats of leveraging their advantages with Blacks and Latinos and other groups in order to win elections, that’s fine. There’s no arguing that point. But to try and put the bulk of political racialization onto the backs of the Democrats is absurd, and it sounds to many of us like more angry post-election griping from the right.


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(Photo: Courtesy of The Wall Street Journal)

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