The Corner

Quasi-Racist Political Analysis

Nick Confessore writes:

A couple of months ago, there was some rightfully ticked-off chatter in the blogosphere regarding the stupid and quasi-racist notion that, quote, if it weren’t for the black vote, the Democrats would be nowhere. (The clearest example of this came a couple of years ago from CNN analyst Bill Schneider, who explained on-air that Democrats were so “dependent” on the black vote that without them, the 1992 and 1996 elections would have been nail-biters and George W. Bush would have won an overwhelming electoral victory over Al Gore.) Josh Marshall nicely paraphrased this as the equivalent of saying “the Dems are just hopelessly sucking wind among real voters and thus have to resort to padding their totals with blacks.” It’s a dumb thought experiment in the sense that, of course if you strip either party of a big voting constituency, they would be less competitive. And it’s quasi-racist in the implication that African-Americans somehow don’t or shouldn’t count.

I just don’t get how it is “quasi-racist” to point out or discuss the fact that the Democratic Party is heavily dependent on black votes. Seriously, I just don’t get it. Nothing in what Confessore or Marshall writes really backs that up. Are the Washington Post, National Journal, New Republic, New York Times et al all “quasi-racist” because they’ve run numerous pieces on the role of the black vote in the Democratic Party? Or are only conservatives who point this out “quasi-racists”? (Of course Bill Schneider is hardly a conservative).

How many blacks have I heard say that the Democratic Party has a “plantation mentality” toward blacks, are they all racists too?

The same week that Julian Bond delivers a speeech clearly intended — as usual — to scaremonger blacks away from even considering staying home or — shudder — voting for the opposition, Confessore tells us it’s quasi racist to even note the central role of blacks to the Democratic Parties electoral strategy? I don’t recall conservatives ever calling the Tapped crowd religious bigots merely for noting the GOP’s reliance on the religious right. Nor do I recall charges of sexism being bandied about when the “gender gap” was a major issue.

Maybe the more logical and less knee-jerk interpretation of the “Dems rely on blacks” analysis has to do with the fact that, as a group, blacks are way to the left of the “vital center” of American politics and so in order to appeal to them, never mind energize them, the Democratic Party needs to adopt positions it might otherwise not? Or maybe it’s a way of pointing out that the Democrats have a problem with non-black voters?

The charitable interpretation is that this is nonsense. The uncharitable interpretation is that this is another example of liberals deciding that inconvenient facts should be swept under the rug with charges of racism against those who bring them to light, or that white liberals are somehow empowered to to decide what is or isn’t racist. Or both.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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