Friday, October 26, 2012

How long can we continue to ignore the “race” problem we all face as a nation?

Anything that encourages the decades-long trend of racial division along party lines is not good for the country in any way, shape, or form.

Mitt Romney may very well become the next President of the United States. But the polls suggest if he does, he will have minimal minority support at best. In a country that is growing darker in skin color by the decade, Republicans relying solely on the caucasian vote to win elections is not a sustainable strategy for future elections. It may prove to be an unsustainable strategy in this election.

It's not a strategy that's reflective of the party's long history of support for minorities -- from President Abraham Lincoln to a Republican-led Congress passing the Ku Klux Klan Act in an attempt to dismantle the group. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 may have been signed by a Democratic president, but Republicans were the ones who provided the push in Congress necessary to get it to his desk. Remember in those days, Democrats didn't turn a blind eye to racism; they were oftentimes the racists, especially in the South, whose Democratic lawmakers led a 57-day filibuster trying to stop the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

When President Lyndon Johnson signed the act into law, he reportedly said he was handing the South over to Republicans for many years to come. And with that came segregation of a different sort. Today, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana all have white Republicans and black Democrats representing them in the House and Georgia is likely to follow that trend. The Peach State's last white Democrat in the House, Rep. John Barrow, finds himself in a tough race in part because his district has been redrawn to include more Republicans and -- get this -- more white people incorporated in that district.

We have minority Democrats versus white Republicans – geez, so much for a post-racial society in America. In 2008, Obama's share of the white vote was 43%, which Ron Brown reported tied Bill Clinton's 1996 vote as "the party's best performance among whites since 1980." In 2010, the House Democrats received only 37 percent of the white vote. BHO is said to be polling at 38% of the white vote this year. If that number holds, he's going to need more than 80 percent of the minority vote to get re-elected, a threshold well within his reach because Romney has failed and continues to fail to gain any traction with blacks or minorities and has little clue what it means to be Latino in this country.

If he had a clue, I doubt he would've made any joke that referred to 47 percent of the population and is now the infamous 47% video. His road to the White House would certainly be easier if he had chosen more wisely. All of which points us to this: Both parties have a huge race problem.
Democrats have been hemorrhaging white voters for decades and cannot continue to rely solely on huge minority turnout to make up the difference. They need to adjust their messaging so white straight males feel there is still some room for them under the tent.

Recent history has shown minorities were behind the Republican Party once so it would be foolish to think it can't reengage and happen again. The president was correct when he told the editorial board of The Des Moines Register that the growing Latino community is a key to political success. But BHO is in a tight race because the Democrats' message has lost its appeal to a lot of whites.

Now conversely, Republicans are really in trouble because they've all but ignored the black and minority communities. They are losing the Latino community where in the coming decades; whites will most likely be in the minority. Romney may be able to win the White House in 2012 with little support from minorities, which may be good for him presently but bad for the party as a whole considering in 2011 the majority of infants born in America were brown shades and not white.

In two states that have gone red since the Civil Rights Act's passage -- Mississippi and Georgia -- at least 50% of the new babies born were minorities. In Texas, the minority figure is at least 60 percent and growing. Just how long can Republicans hold out, continue to ignore minorities and believe they can maintain a power base? Both parties are facing a crisis because neither has figured out a message that speaks across racial lines, and until one does, political discourse is only going to get nastier, the ideology more partisan, and the two camps continue to grow further apart.

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