Liberals have been screaming for years that President Obama’s unpopularity among whites was due to racism, but does the election of Republican African-American Senator Tim Scott in South Carolina prove that there’s no racism in politics?
It’s an intriguing question in the wake of an election that also saw the election of two Black Republicans, Mia Love of Utah and Will Hurd of Texas, to the House of Representatives. All of these candidates were voted in by an overwhelming majority of white conservatives who appeared to have no problem pulling the lever (or punching the button) for an African-American candidate who shared their ideology.
This led writer W. James Antle III to conclude in TheWeek.com that “the real force behind America’s racial polarization isn’t racism. It’s politics.”
“Does that mean there is no racism on the right? Of course not,” Antle writes. “But it does mean that the color of a candidate’s party (red or blue) matters much more to voters than the color of a candidate’s skin.”
Antle also cited the rise of Black conservative Herman Cain as a presidential candidate in 2012 and the current clamor over conservative darling Dr. Ben Carson, who is considering a run for president in 2016, as further evidence that many white conservatives care more about your politics than your race.
It has been an eternal debate during the entire Obama administration whether the vehemence and extremism of his opposition was due to race or politics. Liberals accepted it as conventional wisdom that the presence of a Black man in the most powerful position on the planet had sent conservative whites into an enraged panic, perhaps signaling that the reign of the white man was over. But white conservatives have been firing back all along that their vehemence was prompted by the president’s policies, not his hue.
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s of Louisiana said, in trying to explain away Obama’s unpopularity in her part of the world, “The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans.”
While African-Americans and liberals shrugged at what appeared to be one of the most obvious, uncontroversial statements ever uttered in politics, Republicans went after Landrieu with full-throated fury, claiming it was about Obama’s policies and that she was short-changing her fellow Southerners.
Antle appears to agree with those critics of Landrieu, citing the election in the South of nonwhite governors like South Carolina’s Nikki Haley and Louisiana’s own Bobby Jindal, in addition to the popularity of figures like Colin Powell, who the writer claims would have beaten President Clinton in 1996..
Antle claims that the seeming permanence of so many African-Americans in the Democratic Party has caused political polarization and racial polarization to sort of bleed over into each other.
“Political disagreements are becoming racial disagreements,” he writes. “In Mississippi in 2012, Mitt Romney won 89 percent of the white vote. Obama carried 96 percent of black voters. Thus you can know with something approaching 90 percent confidence that your white neighbor voted Republican and your black neighbor voted Democratic. And if you feel deep hostility toward people on the other side of the political divide, it can easily bleed into racial hostility, too.”
In such a climate, many African-Americans have begun to question the community’s blind allegiance to the Democratic Party, wondering if the community would have its needs better attended to and would have more policymakers addressing the community’s concerns, if there was more of a battle over the Black vote—by the two existing parties or even by an independent third party.