How far conservatives have to go on race, in one home page

This is what The National Review’s home page looks like right now:

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On the one hand, you have an article defending a white police officer who was just fired for assaulting a black teenager. On the other hand, you have an article earnestly pleading with the Republican Party to stop being so oblivious to its own racism.

The article’s author, Theodore Johnson, starts off by recounting an instance during the 2012 election in which a group of canvassers for Mitt Romney avoided his house, despite knocking on the doors of the other (white) houses on his street. As Johnson writes, he really did want to talk to them about Romney’s campaign, and they could have earned his vote. Instead, they offended him by rather obviously writing him off as an Obama supporter because he was black.

To be clear, it was likely the Romney campaign’s modeling that profiled Johnson as an Obama supporter, not the specific group of canvassers that found themselves on his block. Knocking on every door in a neighborhood is a bad use of time and resources, as most voters are not persuadable, so campaigns try to limit their volunteers’ time to talking to voters they think are either on the fence about voting for their candidate or voting at all. But even so, Johnson’s point still stands: there’s a reason his house was not on those volunteers’ walk list, and that reason is, in all likelihood, his race.

But it’s when Johnson moves past his introductory story and starts to make his case that he really hits the nail on the head:

GOP attempts at black outreach are inconsistent and repeatedly undone by inadvisable strategic communication choices and a basic callousness about the black experience in America. Jeb Bush’s recent comment that he would give African Americans “hope and aspiration” instead of bribing them with “free stuff” is a prime example. This sentiment — one that casts the black electorate as a soulless and indolent bloc up for sale to the highest bidder — is as pervasive among some Republicans as it is spurious

And in case you needed a reminder about white conservatives’ “basic callousness about the black experience in America,” here you go:

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The Republican Party can claim all it wants that its platform — from school choice to tax cuts to slashing the social safety net —  is actually better for black people than the Democrats’. None of that will matter until white conservatives, from the National Review to the Republican Party, stop telling black people to get over it with respect to the racial injustices embedded in American society (David French, the author of the post on the top left, concluded by literally telling those offended by the officer’s actions to “move along“). Until they understand exactly why home pages like this are as ironic as they are offensive, they’ll have no idea just how far they need to go in order to repair their image with black voters.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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16 Responses to “How far conservatives have to go on race, in one home page”

  1. Jon Green says:

    Every state without partisan registration has to conduct open primaries. Some require a “loyalty oath” for participants; most don’t. But large-scale attempts by Democrats or Republicans to play around in each others’ primaries are practically nonexistent, and have never to my knowledge actually changed the outcome of a statewide or federal election.

  2. PrahaPartizan says:

    Thanks for the advice on the system VA uses to establish the lists for voters. I’d like to know just how VA conducts primaries then, since anybody can declare themselves to whatever they want whenever they want at their whim. I’ve always felt that system was a charade of a primary system intended mostly to allow people to game the whole political primary process. I agree that any state can choose whatever system they feel comfortable with but I disagree in allowing them to declare that they actually have valid system.

  3. Jon Green says:

    That’s not how it works in Virginia, where there is no party registration (and where Johnson lives). Lists are built based on modeled propensity of support and turnout. And race is one of the most significant predictors of support because — shocker — Republicans have alienated every demographic that isn’t white. So no, it isn’t at all surprising that those canvassers didn’t have Johnson on their list.

  4. Indigo says:

    That’s pretty much how I see it. The way I remember it, President Carter’s administration inadvertently served as the frame where Reaganism developed and since then . . . ouch! We’re an entirely different country from the one I grew up in. And I’m not talking about technology, I’m talking about the self-righteous, mean-spirited hearts surrounding us. ‘Twas not ever thus.

  5. mf_roe says:

    Seeing 150 years ahead was as beyond him as it is for us. He like the framers expected those who followed to be judicious in accommodating the challenges of changing circumstances. I don’t blame him for today’s mess, that blame lies most directly with today’s generation. Political process has changed more in the past 50 years than it changed between Lincoln’s time and FDR’s resetting of balance in the ’30’s. I fear that we have gone so far off the rails it will take another such as Lincoln willing to put this country at great jeopardy in order to change our course.

  6. Indigo says:

    What passes for the Republican party today doesn’t seem interested in wooing those who don’t already support them. I have country cousins who apparently ground their politics in skillful ignorance [my coinage!], claiming their abiding faith in the Republican party is grounded in grandma’s commitment to the Republican party. And shame on me for failing to respect grandma. The only response I offer is to just look ’em straight in the eye (they have that) and say, Grandma was smarter than that.

  7. Indigo says:

    Maybe so but I doubt Lincoln would recognize it.

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  9. BeccaM says:

    The Republican party has forgotten how to woo those who don’t already support them. Or have forgotten the inherent contradiction in constantly demonizing anyone who doesn’t agree with them. They’ve so internalized “we hate everybody who isn’t voting for us,” they’ll openly disdain the respect and due consideration it takes to win support.

    Hence we keep seeing some of their wiser leaders in the brief and rare lucid moments note that they really should stop alienating African Americans, the Latino and Hispanic communities, and just about every other potentially major voting block… followed almost immediately after (or simultaneously) by remarks and positions which totally undercut the whole thing.

    Often they’ll do just as Jeb “Bush/Not-Bush” Bush does, and be blind to their own racist patronizing and dog-whistling. Maybe blind — could also be they know they’re trying to have it both ways and fail to realize people do pay attention.

    I think the problem is their conservative base has gotten so used to the non-stop diet of hate and xenophobia, the GOP leaders and activists don’t know how to consistently be otherwise. Or maybe they’re afraid to stop, because now the even more radical Tea Baggers refuse to accept any compromises or conciliatory moves whatsoever.

  10. mf_roe says:

    Lincoln was a corporatist more than willing to grow the power of government, that his party has been merged with the John Birch Society is a logical progression.

  11. Indigo says:

    The party of Lincoln has fallen so far that without social injustice, they have no easily identified center.

  12. PrahaPartizan says:

    In my experience canvassing, those knocking on doors have usually been assigned voters registered to the party of the candidate the canvassers are advancing or are independents. That might change in the final week of the campaign when canvassers usually work on getting out only the identified party members. So, unless Mr. Johnson was a registered Democrat, those Romney canvassers should have been knocking on his door. The article doesn’t make any of that clear, although somebody writing for the National Review likely would have been a registered Republican. Welcome to the real world of the modern Republican Party, Mr. Johnson.

  13. goulo says:

    Indeed that’s a pretty tone-deaf ironic front page lineup there. :)

    The fact that David French thinks that the arrest isn’t disturbing shows his support of violent police tactics against someone not being violent. That’s disturbing on its own already, even if there weren’t the additional racial element in the mix!

  14. mf_roe says:

    Prejudice is putting belief over reason. Understand that and the whole repug system becomes logical.

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