I have nothing as powerful as Stanton Brown’s commentary to offer regarding the Democrats who are accusing Republican voters of racism, but here are a few observations. First, it seems that most of these accusations are coming from “retired” office seekers, e.g. Bill Clinton and Mario Cuomo. I think their comments reflect the views of their more active Democratic counterparts, but active politicians are understandably relunctant to accuse large chunks of the population of racism. All of this suggests to me that the Democrats may be about to lose much of the benefit that Lott’s statement potentially has provided them. Lott’s statement did not damage Republicans with respect to the African-American vote, of which Republicans receive, and will continue to receive, only a negligible portion. It might hurt Republican standing with moderate voters, but probably will not if the Democrats overplay their hand with unsubstantiated and slanderous attacks on those who vote for Republicans.
Second, in response to Mr. Brown, I think that people like Cuomo and Levin do believe what they’re saying about alleged voter racism (I won’t even guess what Bill Clinton believes). But why do they believe it? Perhaps they are projecting their own views upon voters. Jim Sleeper and others have written on the liberal racism that informs much of the advocacy of racial preferences. Occasionally this surfaces, as when the president of Rutgers defended preferences on the theory that, in essence, blacks lack the intelligence to prosper on their own. Alternatively, Democrats like Cuomo may simply find it convenient to ascribe the party’s decidedly limited success among whites to the deeply flawed characters of the voters. On this account, the evidence of racism is to be found in voter rejection of Democrats, nothing more. In fact, in a slight variation on this theme, Cuomo himself (speaking on “Hardball”) cited as his only evidence that Republicans are closet segregationists the fact that blacks vote almost exclusively for Demorcrats. But of course, one need hardly rely on alleged suspicions of segregationist views to explain why blacks vote for Democrats. The Democratic Party panders to black voters by, among other things, supporting all sorts of preferential treatment for African-Americans.
In any event, the lesson of the Lott affair may be that, if Republicans sometimes talk too stupidly, Democrats generally talk too much. Instead of sitting on the sidelines and enjoying the show, Democrats seem to be lending Republicans a helping hand by inserting into the discussion what Mr. Brown rightly calls the dark side of their souls.
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