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Obama’s War on White People

Victor Davis Hanson argues President Obama plans to win the back the White House by alienating the white man.

The election of the biracial Barack Obama was supposed to usher in a new era of racial harmony. Instead, that dream is becoming a tribally polarized nightmare -by design, and intended to assist in the reelection of Barack Obama.

Consider the increasing obsession with the term “white” (as in versus “black”), along with the old standby charge of “racism” — nearly all of it emanating from the president’s surrogates and celebrity supporters. Upon the announcement of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential pick, almost immediately Donna Christensen, the non-voting congressional delegate from the Virgin Islands, tweeted: “Wait a minute! Are there black people in Va? Guess just not w Romney Ryan! At least not seeing us. We know who’s got our back & we have his.”

“Got our back” — compare the Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith’s video appealing to African-Americans to cover the president’s back — of course implies that Paul Ryan is a veritable racist who by virtue of his skin color and conservative politics will stab blacks in the back. In that vein, Mia Farrow, viewing the initial Romney/Ryan rally, offers, “Camera pans crowd: whole bunch of white people.”

Here is what Melissa Harris-Perry, the weekend host of MSNBC’s Hardball, said of Paul Ryan’s referring to the Declaration of Independence: “The thing I really have against him is actually how he and Gov. Romney have misused the Declaration of Independence. I’m deeply irritated by their notion that the ‘pursuit of happiness’ means money for the richest and that we extricate the capacity of ordinary people to pursue happiness. When they say ‘God and nature give us our rights, not government,’ that is a lovely thing to say as a wealthy white man.” In the postmodern world of Ms. Harris-Perry, which is the world of Barack Obama, what we say has no innate meaning apart from our class, race, and gender.

Expect the Ryan selection in the next few days to spawn a new flurry of “wealthy white man” invective in a manner that two Clinton-Gore tickets, a Gore-Lieberman ticket, and a Kerry-Edwards ticket never did.

There’s several more paragraphs of this but no need to belabor the point.

Look, I yield to no man in my whiteness. And I tire of race constantly being dragged into the political discussion when plain old ideology and partisan hackery are sufficient explanatory variables. But Hanson’s argument here makes no sense.

While it’s true that the Republican Party’s inability to attract black and, increasingly, Hispanic voters is incredibly problematic, the fact of the matter is that whites are still 72.4 percent of the American population.  It would be an electoral strategy bordering on madness to try to divide the country along racial lines when you’re on the other side.

Ah, says Hanson, that just shows how clever Obama is:

For whom is this new staged anger at “whites” calibrated?

Surprisingly, I think most likely the independent swing voters. For all the talk of softer support in minority communities, Obama will probably win huge majorities among them, comparable to those of 2008. He might increase voter turnout by revving up fears of white racism, but in general he has few worries over the minority vote.

In contrast, Obama will not do well with the so-called working white voters, and apparently has written them off; he has few worries that the current “white” obsession can do much more damage among the “clingers.” But among moderate independents, the Obama campaign is seeking to brand Romney as someone well beyond the mainstream. If the Obama labeling campaign is successful, voting for Romney will mean becoming socially unacceptable; it will be tantamount to embracing a Neanderthal sort of mindset that opposes Obama not on his disastrous economic policies but simply because of his race.

The key to such stigmatization is to Palinize Romney — not merely as a near-felon who lies on federal disclosure forms; not just as an international financial pirate who avoids taxes through overseas scams; not simply as 1-percenter who has a car elevator in his house; and not even as a near-murderer who supposedly likes to fire innocent men and throw their cancer-stricken wives out into the street without health care.

Well beyond even all that, Romney must be portrayed as something like a Bull Connor or a David Duke. If Obama can stigmatize Romney voters as racists and “white” supremacists, then perhaps he can peel away 3 to 5 percent of the critical independents, who desperately fear being associated with a reactionary racist.

But that’s madness. It’s one thing to try to portray Romney and Ryan as extremists on tax policy or as insufficiently concerned about the plight of the poor—including poor blacks and Hispanics. That’s a winnable fight, especially if Romney doesn’t up his game at delivering his message. But it’s going to be a hard sell, indeed, to portray a guy who was governor of arguably the most Democratic state in the union and a guy who represents a Democratic-leaning district in Wisconsin as analogs of Bull Connor or David Duke. It’s an absurd notion.

If the exit polls are to be believed, in the last election John McCain took 55 percent of the white vote to Obama’s 43 percent; Obama nonetheless won easily by sweeping 95 percent of blacks and 67 percent of Hispanics.   Obama isn’t the first man to win the presidency while losing the white vote; indeed, every Democrat elected in my lifetime has done so. Bill Clinton did it in 1996 and 1992. So did Jimmy Carter in 1976; that’s pretty amazing given that the country was a lot whiter then.  Lyndon Johnson was the last Democrat to win the white vote, way back in 1964.

Given that 2008 was a perfect storm for Democrats, I fully expect Romney and Ryan to win the white vote again, likely by a larger margin than McCain and Palin did last go ’round. Given that Republicans have done little to pull away the support of black and Hispanic voters, that might not be enough. But it would nonetheless be crazy for Obama and company to consciously to to alienate white voters when they still need probably 40 percent of them to go their way.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Anderson says:

    almost immediately Donna Christensen, the non-voting congressional delegate from the Virgin Islands, tweeted

    Uh, what? I’m supposed to believe that “the non-voting congressional delegate from the Virgin Islands” is representative of some Obama strategy?

    What an irretrievable moron VDH is.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 4

  2. Derrick says:

    Well beyond even all that, Romney must be portrayed as something like a Bull Connor or a David Duke.

    It’s hilarious that VDH can say this, yet his post-2008 colums are mostly a mix of of Rev. Wright, New Black Panthers, Eric Holder and alienation of white people. No one at NR has done more to try to turn Obama into Malcom X, yet now its white people who are the aggrieved party while actual racial harm (ie Voter purges) are going on without a hint of shame. I’m glad that you read this so I didn’t have to James.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 39 Thumb down 6

  3. mattb says:

    Victor Davis Hanson’s essay is an great example of the work of “reverse racism” and ultimately demonstrates how even for someone who isn’t supposed to be a “racist” everything boils down into race (or rather defense of one’s own race).

    One need look no further than how he parses Melissa Harris-Perry’s following statement:

    When they say ‘God and nature give us our rights, not government,’ that is a lovely thing to say as a wealthy white man.”

    Her point has little to do with race and everything to do with privilege. Her point – that he completely ignores — is that in the history of this country, the only class/grouping of people whose rights were never in question were wealthy white men.

    It isn’t simply that “white people” didn’t have to worry/fight for their rights. Poorer white men clearly had to fight for their rights. And it too White women of all classes centuries to get the right to vote, let alone enjoy similar wages and opportunities to their male counterparts.

    But that type of reading — clearly what she meant in the context of the statement — is a far more dangerous one than simply suggesting that Melissa Harris-Perry (who happens to be Black) is fermenting racial hate.

    BTW, it noteworthy that Harris-Perry also happens to be a woman, but Harris doesn’t seem particularly concerned about the “man” part of that statement. Perhaps she was really trying to push feminist agenda.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 3

  4. mattb says:

    @Anderson:

    Uh, what? I’m supposed to believe that “the non-voting congressional delegate from the Virgin Islands” is representative of some Obama strategy?

    What an irretrievable moron VDH is.

    Ahh, but you missed the fact that Donna Christensen is black. As too is Lovie Smith and Melissa Harris-Perry. So of course all of them — like President Obama — hate whitie and want a race war.

    VDH also wants to comment Herman Cain for fighting the pull of his (especially dark) skin color in order to be a real Conservative. He’s pretty impressed with Condoleezza Rice’s ability to overcome her blackness as well (though I’m pretty sure he thinks it’s a little less impressive because she’s so much closer to the skin tone he thinks that Conservatives prefer). And he’s still disappointed that Colin Powell lacked Cain’s convictions and will power and ultimately went over to team “blackie.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 4

  5. george says:

    Alienating the most numerous group to win an election – yup, I’m sure that’s the tactic that the Democrats are banking on to win the election for them.

    I think Hanson is engaging in what could be charitably described as “wishful thinking”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  6. Mr. Prosser says:

    Victor Davis Hanson; another Newt Gingrich historian.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  7. michael reynolds says:

    I think James you may be underestimating the effect of GOP voter suppression efforts aimed at decreasing minority participation. Republicans in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania are flat-out trying to steal the election for Mr. Romney.

    White votes are all you need once a corrupt GOP has made it harder and harder for blacks, students, Hispanics, old people, urban people, to vote. The point of the VDH piece – and there will be many more like it – is precisely dog-whistle racism aimed at maximizing GOP election-theft efforts.

    White votes count extra in the GOP. And of course in the GOP cosmology, they should count for more.

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  8. grumpy realist says:

    @george: Um….Republicans? If you want to know why black and Hispanic (and a whole bunch of white people as well) don’t vote for your party, just read the clown that is Hanson. There’s a reason why a lot of us are suspicious of conservatives. In far too many cases, “conservative” means IGMFY.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

  9. rudderpedals says:

    WFB Jr wouldn’t have put up with this. Mr. Hansen is skating close to his Derbyshire moment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

  10. gVOR08 says:

    But Hanson’s argument here makes no sense.

    James, my old HS English teacher, Miss McGuire, would have come down on you hard for that redundant sentence.

    I come over here for sensible conservative commentary. I also read The Corner occasionally, but only for the entertainment value. It’s sad to see what has become of what was once the flagship conservative periodical.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  11. Scott says:

    Look. The only way the Republicans are going to win is to whip up anger and resentment. Even though whites are 73% of the population, even though Christians make up a similar percentage, the right has to imagine themselves as a put upon minority. Class, race, and religious warfare indeed.

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  12. MBunge says:

    “Hanson’s argument here makes no sense.”

    Hasn’t that been the appropriate response to the overwhelming majority of political essays written by Hanson over the last 10+ years, at least? When does he lose his “Serious Person Who Must Be Treated Seriously” card?

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 3

  13. MM says:

    @george:

    I think Hanson is engaging in what could be charitably described as “wishful thinking”

    It’s not wishful thinking, it’s narrative framing. White people(especially white men) are oppressed, if not outright under attack is the message that is being sent here. From “food stamp president” to “ACORN” to “Obama’s war on religion” to this.

    The goal is to inform you, conservative white and likely male reader, that YOU are either the new underclass or that you will be if the Obama types have their way.

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  14. michael reynolds says:

    @MBunge:
    He’s not trying to “make sense.” He’s showing a path forward on race-baiting to the right-wing blogosphere and Fox “News.” He’s giving marching orders. This is a tactic, not an essay.

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  15. mattb says:

    @michael reynolds:

    He’s not trying to “make sense.” He’s showing a path forward on race-baiting to the right-wing blogosphere and Fox “News.” He’s giving marching orders. This is a tactic, not an essay.

    THIS.

    And you see other RWM folks using similar Racism 2.0-jujitsu, like Rush Limbaugh claiming that Obama has not simply abandoned white working class votes, he’s actively working to suppress them:
    http://mediamatters.org/video/2012/08/10/limbaugh-obama-is-trying-to-suppress-the-white/189249

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  16. LaMont says:

    @mattb:

    While reading Hanson’s piece my head almost exploded. As a black man I can say that your comments were on point (definitely calmed me down)!

    And I think I speak for all Afircan Americans and asking – WHAT IN THE HELL IS HANSON SMOKING???

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4

  17. Vast Variety says:

    The GOP would have far less trouble winning the votes of African Americans or Hispanics if they would simply stop treating them as if they didn’t have a right to live here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  18. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Well, obviously Team Obama is going to play the race card and obviously there will be various street and pulpit level efforts to gin up turnout among blacks and Latinos, particularly among blacks and notably in the big machine Democrat cities. Let’s not be as naive as Ivory Snow.

    That said, however, I suspect that Hanson actually dosed acid or perhaps smoked crack before penning that article.

    Team Obama is not dumb enough directly to attack Romney/Ryan along racial lines. The direct attacks will consist of the basic Mediscare strategy along with the ongoing attacks about wealth, taxes, tax returns, Bain, etc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 14

  19. Barry says:

    @MBunge: “When does he lose his “Serious Person Who Must Be Treated Seriously” card?”

    When he stops with the right-wing arguments. If he were to turn liberal, he’d be reclassified as ‘ivory tower historian who doesn’t know about the real world’ in about 3 microseconds.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 5

  20. mattb says:

    @Vast Variety:
    Ahh, but you don’t understand the GOP’s perspective. It’s not so much that they don’t think that minorties have a right to live here… it’s that all those pesky minorities have yet to accept the fact that the GOP knows what’s best for for them.

    (Though, in all fairness, there are a number of liberals who also believe that they know whats best for minorities as well)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  21. LaMont says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Unfortunately, I don’t think many realize just how nasty this will get before the elections. Its very easy to blame someone of falling well short of unifying everyone when all you have to do is abstain yourself from participating in any unifying effort. Let alone pander to the obvious racist in our society…Sad as F*%$&!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  22. stonetools says:

    I’m just going to go ahead and put VDH into the category of “race baiting enabler of racism” while withholding judgment on whether he is truly a racist. I think it likely that confirming evidence that he is a racist will soon be forthcoming.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  23. al-Ameda says:

    The election of the biracial Barack Obama was supposed to usher in a new era of racial harmony. Instead, that dream is becoming a tribally polarized nightmare -by design, and intended to assist in the reelection of Barack Obama.

    What a surprise, Victor Davis Hanson is just another race-baiting neoconservative academic. Hanson is blaming Obama for white resentment. Republicans have used racial resentment so well since 1968 – I don’t see this as any outside that norm.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  24. C. Clavin says:

    “…Given that Republicans have done little to pull away the support of black and Hispanic voters, that might not be enough…”

    But their massive voter suppression efforts may be plenty.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  25. george says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Um….Republicans? If you want to know why black and Hispanic (and a whole bunch of white people as well) don’t vote for your party, just read the clown that is Hanson. There’s a reason why a lot of us are suspicious of conservatives. In far too many cases, “conservative” means IGMFY.

    Didn’t realize I had a party. But if its mine, can I sell it? There’s a cabin in a lake (Northern Saskatchewan) I’ve been considering purchasing … what I get for the GOP should at least cover the mortgage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  26. Anderson says:

    obviously Team Obama is going to play the race card

    Okay, I’ll bite. What race card are the Dems going to play?

    Is it “playing the race card” to object to voter-ID efforts designed to reduce black turnout?

    Why isn’t the GOP “playing the race card” when they propose such laws that have no effect on actual voter fraud?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  27. swbarnes2 says:

    But Hanson’s argument here makes no sense.

    James, you are an intelligent person. You spend a great deal of your time looking into and commenting on politics. This should not be so opaque to you! There is a perfectly sensible answer, you apparently can’t bring yourself to say it. But for the sake of honesty, you should try.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  28. Jeremy R says:

    You’d think National Review would be more careful when it comes to accusing others of exploiting racial resentments/grievances as it’s been just four months since they were shamed into purging their white nationalist contributors. Come to think of it, they just might have missed one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  29. Hoot Gibson says:

    Yesterday Joe Biden said Republicans wanted to “put people back in chains”.

    Four more years! Four More Years! FOUR MORE YEARS!!1111!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The point of the VDH piece – and there will be many more like it – is precisely dog-whistle racism aimed at maximizing GOP election-theft efforts.

    Michael, I thought the point of the piece was that dog-whistle racism was no longer working. Hence the lurch into out and out calls of “They’re comin’ fer our wimmen!”

    This is way past dog whistle.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  31. mattb says:

    @Hoot Gibson:

    Yesterday Joe Biden said Republicans wanted to “put people back in chains”.

    Again, here’s the irony of the claims on the right that Democrats only see things from a racial perspective.

    Biden’s full quote:

    “They’ve said it. Every Republican’s voted for it. Romney wants to let the – he said in the first 100 days, he’s going to let the big banks once again write their own rules – unchain Wall Street. They’re going to put y’all back in chains.”

    You might want to remember that debtors were regularly thrown in chains in both the US and Europe. The US had debtors prisons until 1833. In the UK they continued until 1869 (four years after the end of Slavery and the US Civil War).

    So lets see… Biden is talking about deregulating banks… so therefore he must really mean race and race based slavery.

    Thanks for playing “this is why people think you are race baiting.”

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  32. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @stonetools:

    I’m just going to go ahead and put VDH into the category of “race baiting enabler of racism” while withholding judgment on whether he is truly a racist.

    stoney, I feel pretty sure that it takes a racist to engage in race baiting- just sayin’.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @george:

    what I get for the GOP should at least cover the mortgage.

    Heh, that wouldn’t cover the cost of snow removal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  34. PGlenn says:

    Mr. Joyner, you took the easy route – attacking the weakest part of VDH’s analysis. I can’t blame you, as I’d do the same. Yet, the first two-thirds of VHD’s post was simply providing context of that tiresome, unhealthy patttern of “race constantly being dragged into the political discussion.” For yet more proof of the left’s banal fixation on conservative/libertarian/moderate/liberal raaaaacism, review all the nice, tolerant, open-minded comments from “progressives” in this thread.

    If you haven’t noticed, when large segments of “progressives” are exhibiting their “plain old ideology and partisan hackery,” that means assusing their opponents of being raaaaacist, sexist, homophobic monsters who wish to cull the elderly, starve the poor, and kick needy children out into the freezing cold (yet globally-warmed) night.

    But, yes, I agree that VHD errs in suggesting that such fixations are politically “calibrated.” Even if the Obama campaign hopes to stigmatize Romney/Ryan as reactionary rich white men, it does not follow that Obama “hopes racial division will get him reelected.” Nobody would calibrate such a dicey strategy. As you know, that “plain old ideology and partisan hackery” is usually not consistent with a high degree of self-awareness, let alone calibration.

    At the same time, though, ultimately what difference does it make in terms of civic culture, whether these reckless attempts to stigmatize all dissent from “progressive” supremacy reflects the instincts of ideologues versus politically calibration? Aren’t the effects roughly the same?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 14

  35. PD Shaw says:

    Obama isn’t the first man to win the presidency while losing the white vote; indeed, every Democrat elected in my lifetime has done so. Bill Clinton did it in 1996 and 1992. So did Jimmy Carter in 1976; that’s pretty amazing given that the country was a lot whiter then. Lyndon Johnson was the last Democrat to win the white vote, way back in 1964

    .

    That’s an interesting fact I was unaware of, but looking further into the polling, it understates the claim. From James’ links, Kennedy in 60, and Stevenson in 52 and 56 also lost the white vote. I can’t find Gallup reporting for 48, but according to this Wikipedia entry Gallup reported Truman getting 50% of the white vote to Dewey’s 50%. There is something odd about that 50/50 split, given that there was considerable third-party action in ’44 (Wallace and Thurmond), which would seem most likely to attract white votes. Perhaps all of the polling in ’48 was garbage.

    What this suggests is that following the New Deal realignment, majority whites were not a part of the New Deal coalition or its modern descendents. A white majority was only evidenced in landslide years for the Democrats.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  36. Rob in CT says:

    @PGlenn:

    When it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, has wings and feathers… yeah, it gets called a duck. Cry all you want about it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  37. Hoot Gibson says:

    mattb, that is just so precious, y’all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 12

  38. Jeremy R says:

    @Hoot Gibson:

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/story/2011-12-19/romney-us-economy-entitlements/52076252/1

    Romney: “Our first principle is freedom. If we remove the shackles of government, if we unburden ourselves from the mountain of debt that we have been saddled with, we can become the Opportunity Society that we once were.”

    The difference between the chains of Wallstreet and the shackles of government is apparently that one is worthy of being exploited with bleeting cries of fake outrage from a cynical campaign, while the other passed by with little notice and no comment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  39. Anderson says:

    Perhaps all of the polling in ’48 was garbage.

    That was the year that polls gave us “Dewey Defeats Truman,” so yeah, probably so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. dennis says:

    I used to bag on liberals all the time. “Liberal” was like an ugly curse word! What I’ve discovered on this journey, though, is that conservatives, across their entire spectrum, view the world entirely through the prism of their ideology and rarely, if ever, break out of it. Excepting the extremists, liberals can, and often do, modify/moderate their stand on any particular issue.

    That’s just been MY experience; no statistical evidence of it. My personal opinion is that conservatives tend to be strongly religious and use their religion as a hub for all their other beliefs and opinions. In other words, What Would Jesus Do? sit-morality. I know; I used to do this.

    How they’re gonna figure out WWJD for Obama’s war on white people is beyond me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  41. dennis says:

    Apologies; that rant was in response to PGlenn’s above post.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  42. al-Ameda says:

    I look forward to Victor Davis Hanson’s next “analysis” wherein he proves that for years Black Voters had demonstrated a blindness to issues of race and racism by voting for White presidential candidates. Then in 2008 that changed, Black Voters showed their racism and “tribalism” by overwhelmingly voting for a Black candidate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  43. PGlenn says:

    @dennis: thanks for the comment. if you read the comments from the “progressives” on this site on a regular basis, I don’t know if you’ll ever find clearer examples of people who “view the world entirely through the prism of their ideology and rarely, if ever, break out of it.” But, yes, the same principle applies to many conservatives.

    As a general rule, the tradeoff in politics is between ignorance and ideology. Most people are ignorant of political/policy matters, but therefore are not ideologues. Whereas the more informed one tends to be about these things, the more likely he/she is to be an ideologue. The modern world is hyper-complex. The amount of information we would need to process to gain a good grasp of all relevant political/policy data is very far beyond human congitive limits. Ideology is a “shortcut” tool we use for making sense out of the massive complexities of the modern world.

    As a result, 99 percent of all political/policy junkies are ideologues. The questions are how self-aware and self-critical they are about it; how willing they are to work through the trappings of ideology; how polite they are; how much they like to engage with people who disagree with them, even when deep down they want to b-slap their ideological opponents.

    IMO, it’s much more realistic to promote civic discipline than it is to expect political junkies to overcome ideology. Yet, in the current political/civic climate, we’re making increasingly weaker efforts at encouraging such “discipline.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  44. mattb says:

    @PGlenn:

    Yet, the first two-thirds of VHD’s post was simply providing context of that tiresome, unhealthy patttern of “race constantly being dragged into the political discussion.” For yet more proof of the left’s banal fixation on conservative/libertarian/moderate/liberal raaaaacism, review all the nice, tolerant, open-minded comments from “progressives” in this thread.

    I think, at best, an arguement can be made that there are “race hustlers” on each side of the aisle. Unless of course you want to deny the many racially based attacks on the President (versus his policies).

    The next question becomes what’s the expression of the racism. As I mentioned earlier, Rush Limbaugh for example, has recently be talking about the Obama Campaigns plan’s to suppress the “white working class vote.” What’s worth noting is the means of this supposed suppression: advertising. Neither Limbaugh or his sources can produce examples of legislative attempts to disenfranchise white, working class, Republican voters.

    On the other hand, it’s hard to ignore the racial facts about what people are adversely affected by Voter ID acts. True that those individuals tend to vote democratic, but there are some other commonalities as well that few people conservatives seem willing to acknowledge.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  45. PGlenn says:

    @mattb: I have not seen any empirical data on the question on what voting segments might be adversely affected by Voter ID laws, but sorry, I’ve never understood the argument.

    Nowadays, people need to show ID for so many different purposes – to open any type of account, including cable television, etc.; to rent any type of residence whether it’s offered at a market rate or otherwise; to get an extended pass to ride the bus; to get food stamps; to attend an Obama campaign event; etc.

    My wife works in the mental health industry, mostly with persons who would be classified as low or very low-income. To access mental health services, these clients show a photo ID. She’s not aware of ANY prospective client who did not possess photo ID. Granted, the people she’s worked with are all “in the system” so to speak. Perhaps there is a very small segment of low-income persons who have never accessed any of the services associated with the modern welfare state and do not have photo ID. If you find any examples, please let me know.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  46. mattb says:

    @PGlenn:

    I have not seen any empirical data on the question on what voting segments might be adversely affected by Voter ID laws

    Admittedly there have not been many rigorous studies. However, let me direct you to one that does exist and is exceeding thorough — including with additional revisions based on reader feedback:
    http://www.azavea.com/blogs/atlas/2012/08/does-pas-new-voter-id-law-impact-groups-differently-by-ethnicity/

    As to your second point, it is not so much a question of whether or not someone possesses a photo id, but rather if they possess a valid (as per statute) photo ID and if that photo ID is currently valid.

    As the study I linked to suggests, there is a significant amount of the voting population in Philadelphia whose IDs have expired.

    Again, I am somewhat sympathetic to the idea of requiring photo IDs. However, using the notion of fraud as cover for this is problematic in my mind — both due to the lack of significant evidence on widespread in-person voter fraud and the fact that few if any of the states who have enacted these measures have undertaken any serious efforts to secure absentee voting where there is far more available evidence of voting fraud.

    Of course, absentee balloting tends to skew in favor of Republican and Conservative candidates where as many of the in person, ID Laws, tend to target Democratic voters… but of course that has nothing to do with any of this (especially when you consider that many of these laws are being enacted for the first time during a tightly contested presidential race).

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  47. sam says:

    Can someone explain the logic of this?

    Obama will not do well with the so-called working white voters, and apparently has written them off; he has few worries that the current “white” obsession can do much more damage among the “clingers.” But among moderate independents, the Obama campaign is seeking to brand Romney as someone well beyond the mainstream. If the Obama labeling campaign is successful, voting for Romney will mean becoming socially unacceptable; it will be tantamount to embracing a Neanderthal sort of mindset that opposes Obama not on his disastrous economic policies but simply because of his race.

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  48. jukeboxgrad says:

    VDH is a worthless hack. Just because I happen to have it handy, here’s an example, from 1/17/12:

    Barack Obama has never to my knowledge done what his 2008 rival John McCain and other presidential candidates like John Kerry and George Bush all have done and released his Occidental or Columbia transcripts

    That statement is packed with dishonesty. McCain never released any transcripts. Neither did GWB (his were leaked, and his campaign complained when it happened). Kerry released his only after he was no longer a candidate. And we have seen no transcripts from Mitt, and I don’t see VDH calling for them.

    No wonder so many Republicans are confused, and spread lies: they believe what they read at NR. And what they read at NR is designed to appeal to racists. That’s what you have to be to believe that Obama is obliged to show his BC and his transcripts, both things done by no president before him.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  49. mattb says:

    @PGlenn:
    BTW, to my final point about Voter ID versus Absentee Ballots – and the attention to reforming one while ignoring the other – a recent article publishing in Philadelphia points out the fact that anyone concerned about ID issues should go ahead a vote using an Absentee Ballot because none of the Voting ID requirements apply to that process.

    http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20120805_Absentee_ballots_may_offer_a_way_around_Pennsylvania_voter_ID_law.html

    So all that security just goes out the window if someone opts to mail it in… explain that to me please.

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  50. PGlenn says:

    @mattb: I won’t be able to delve into the details you provided right away, but I commend you for the quality of your arguments – well-reasoned, well-supported, persuasive.

    I can say straight away that you make good points concerning absentee voting. I’d support studying that issue and tightening up the requirements as necessary. No question, politics comes into play on these matters – from both sides.

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  51. bill says:

    judging by the unemployment figures it looks like a war on every American that doesn’t work for the gov’t .

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  52. @bill:

    Actually, no.

    The same picture emerges from another report, the ADP employment report, which typically comes out two days before the government statistics. The latest release counted 163,000 new jobs in July, exactly the same as the BLS. ADP’s monthly figures are a bit less volatile than the BLS’s, but they too show similarly weak job creation: an average of 170,000 new posts per month this year.

    The latest data also offer some lessons for those just coming into the labor force, or finding themselves out of work in the middle of a career. Government at all levels continues to shed jobs and the construction sector is making only a tepid recovery from the devastation of the 2008-2009 recession. These aren’t the hot places to look for work.

    Emphasis mine.

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  53. ratufa says:

    @PGlenn:

    Perhaps there is a very small segment of low-income persons who have never accessed any of the services associated with the modern welfare state and do not have photo ID. If you find any examples, please let me know.

    I’m not a low-income person, but I have personal experience with not having a current (non-expired) state-issued photo ID. Mass transit gets me to work and stores (plus there are grocery and other stores within walking distance of where I live). Nobody asks me for a photo ID — I already have a job, bank account, health insurance card, SSN card (gotten by my parents, when I was young), look old enough that nobody cards me, etc. The only immediate reason to get my state ID card renewed (which I’ll do) is to vote.

    Because I”m already in the system (i.e. already have a state ID), getting that state ID card renewed won’t cost me anything (well, actually it will, but I could get one for free in my state for voting purposes). But, if I wasn’t already in the system, I’d need a copy of my birth certificate with a raised seal and that would cost me money because I was born in another state. Plus, it would take time and I would have to make sure to start the process well before the election.

    So, if you don’t need to drive, it can be pretty easy to coast along for a long time without having a valid ID of the sort many states require for voting, and there are costs to getting an ID — potentially money, and time if nothing else.

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  54. mattb says:

    @PGlenn:

    Thanks.

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  55. bill says:

    @john personna: awesome, we’re all screwed then! and still waiting for obama to turn it around? LOL.
    really though;
    ” It’s the public sector that’s doing fine. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for government workers last month was just 4.2 percent (up slightly from 3.9 percent a year ago). Compare that to private-sector industries such as construction (14.2 percent unemployment), leisure and hospitality services (9.7 percent), agriculture (9.5 percent), professional and business services (8.5 percent) and wholesale and retail trade (8.1 percent). As Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute points out, the public-sector unemployment rate “is the lowest of any industry or class of worker, even including the growing energy industry.” If the rest of Americans enjoyed the same unemployment rate as government workers, Obama would be cruising to reelection. [The Washington Post, 6/11/12]

    emphasize facts for a change. i won’t even get into the “productivity” of these slugs and the obscene benefits….yet i can’t blame them for taking them.

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  56. dennis says:

    @PGlenn:

    You’re welcome. Although I’m sure you understood my meaning, allow me to refine a bit what I was saying.

    My opinion is that there are extremes on both ends of the ideological spectrum, both of which almost never bother to consider the other’s position. As the ideological “needles,” so to speak, of the spectrum move toward the middle, ideological positions moderate and become more tolerant. I find the liberal needle moves farther and faster toward the moderate middle than the conservative needle, which doesn’t budge too very far from its extreme end.

    You said:

    As a general rule, the tradeoff in politics is between ignorance and ideology. Most people are ignorant of political/policy matters, but therefore are not ideologues.

    I disagree with that. I think that people bask in there ignorance exactly BECAUSE they are ideologues. People who seek out information and avail themselves of competing ideas are more open to changing their stance and/or opinion on an issue than those who refuse to consider other ideas. I find liberals do this more than conservatives, and I believe it’s because conservatives view politics through their religious views, which are unchanging; therefore, they don’t change.

    Whereas the more informed one tends to be about these things, the more likely he/she is to be an ideologue.

    True. If one “informs” himself solely with non-competing sympathetic data, then, yes, he is more likely to be an ideologue. Conservatives rarely do this, generally because of a biblically-colored world view; though, I have to concede that not all conservatives are religious. I should say, rather, their moral world view.

    The modern world is hyper-complex. The amount of information we would need to process to gain a good grasp of all relevant political/policy data is very far beyond human congitive limits.

    Nah. Intellectual laziness, maybe, of which I am, admittedly, guilty at times.

    As a result, 99 percent of all political/policy junkies are ideologues.

    Two points:

    (1) Where did you pull that figure from?
    (2) You’re positing that 99% of p/p junkies do not consider competing hypotheses or different viewpoints. I don’t buy it.

    Let’s take a sampling. I’ve read posts by Michael Reynolds, surely a liberal, that considered and admitted a conservative criticism of the Obama administration. What about our hosts, James and Doug? We’ve read blog after blog and post after post of theirs and, though sometimes they take a position that drives me up a wall, they equally take competing positions against conservative ideology.

    Surely if anyone is a political/policy junkie, it’s James. But I wouldn’t call him or Doug an ideologue. That’s just my opinion. And I’ve had to concede points made by Tsar Nicolas and disagreed at times with john personna. I also once thought Victor Davis Hanson was a smart guy. Shows how smart I am.

    The questions are how self-aware and self-critical they are about it; how willing they are to work through the trappings of ideology; how polite they are; how much they like to engage with people who disagree with them, even when deep down they want to b-slap their ideological opponents.

    The nature of the ideologue is antithetical to considerations of self-awareness and critical thinking. See point 2 above.

    IMO, it’s much more realistic to promote civic discipline than it is to expect political junkies to overcome ideology.

    You need to flesh that out, because I have no clue what you’re trying to say. Thanks for the discussion, though.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  57. dennis says:

    @PGlenn:

    Which begs the questions: Are people ignorant of policy/politics because they are ideologues, or are they ideologues because they are ignorant?

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  58. Nick says:

    VDH and NRO are in the reverse racism grievance industry. They did the same thing with Obama in 2008 (ACORN, Rev. Wright, Farrakhan). The article isn’t aimed at James Joyner, but played very well to his target audience….

    This is the top rated comment at that NRO article(26 likes in 5 hrs):

    As far as the Black community goes, Obama could come out for giving Alaska back to the Russians, ceding the Southwest to Mexico, while using tax payer,s money to build a Mosque in Arlington Cemetery, and a video of him tossing living late term abortion babies on the pile screaming in pain as they die slowly and still comfortably capture 95% of that voting block..

    But Blacks are not Racist!

    Classic Rovian tactic – accuse your opponent of what you are thinking as loudly as you can. There are many historical reasons for the 90% voting number (often inflated wrongly to 95-97% for their purposes) having to do with the Southern Strategy, socioeconomic status etc. etc, but, anyways. ..On the positive side, racism is dying out, and R’s will have to change their racial appeals in the next generation. This strategy backfires badly with younger voters of all races.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  59. Tristan says:

    It’s easy to bring white liberals into the fold by convincing them “I’m not talking about you”.

    Just as I would accept anti-American remarks from Europeans back when I was 18 because they were accepting of me, despite my citizenship. At the time it meant that I was accepted into a group I aspired to.

    Now I’m a little less accepting of such damning praise.

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  60. superdestroyer says:

    @PD Shaw:

    You should look at the states where the Democratic Party is capable of getting more than 50% of the white vote. It generally is a few New England states and now California and a few west coast states.

    I have always found it odd that one of the requirements for the Democrats to get 50% of the white vote is an absence of blacks.

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  61. superdestroyer says:

    @mattb:

    It was talking to a black audience. The use of the term ya’ll to a black audience makes a huge difference in the meaning. It may discussing banks but was being said to a black audience.

    Of course, the Democrats do this every election, so it is not really news.

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  62. C. Clavin says:

    Romeny has jumped on the angry black man meme too.
    The Republicans are scared…and getting desperate.

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  63. I think Biden should have, not just walked back, but abandoned the line. “No idea what I was saying.” It probably wasn’t something he planned anyway, he just went there in the moment.

    There are plenty of solid issues to deal with here without making it angry both ways.

    One of my unpopular positions here was actually that “Romney killed my wife” was too emotionally charged and invited blow-back. The case that “heartless capitalism, combined with low taxes on the rich, combined with reduced benefits for the poor is bad” can be made without that kind of thing.

    I think Romney’s anger at the Obama campaign will blow over, but the risk is that it will turn some heads along the way.

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  64. BTW, I think Romney’s “free stuff” speech at the NAACP, while milder in content, was worse in intent. It was planned.

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  65. Romney doing a good job of convincing people that he was running on “the economy” while saying nothing serious about it. It was hard to strike back at unnamed and undefined plans. The great thing about adding Ryan to the ticket is that he made the Romney alternative more concrete.

    Whether or not Romney is authentically angry about Obama ads, it helps Romney to be anger, because it means he doesn’t have to talk about Republican economics.

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  66. mannning says:

    Obama is playing to the non-whites and just enough of the loony white left to get himself reelected, quite obviously. Redistribution of (share the) wealth, the implied promise of free medical care, equal opportunities and equal outcomes, further penetration of government ownership of industry, covertly open borders, amnesty of sorts, and manna from heaven the government purchases him support and votes from these groups, particularly since it is these shortsighted groups that have little sense of the ultimate and devastating ideological issues involved, bastardizing the Constitution, anti-Christian attacks, nor the future of the nation, and they really don’t seem to care. Nor do these groups keep careful track of the issues or the debates, the lack of jobs for about 14 million people, the $16 trillion debit with its promise of inflation, and the lies and fabrications of the left versus the right, and how the truth is eventually brought out. It is certain that the MSM won’t help them sort it out properly.

    Freebies are good, never mind how they are generated, and Obama currently takes claim to be the king of the freebies. That he doesn’t expect much support from the main, largely Christian and conservative or moderate white groups is likewise obvious. In that he is quite right.

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  67. mannning says:

    Meant to say….implied promise of free or very low cost medical care..

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  68. Barry says:

    @mattb: “So all that security just goes out the window if someone opts to mail it in… explain that to me please. ”

    Because it was not, is not and never shall be about fraud; it’s voter suppression.

    Might want to let Doug M. know.

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  69. dennis says:

    Remember that discussion we were having about ideologues? See mannning’s comments above for illustration.

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  70. mannning says:

    @dennis:

    Why, Dennis, you are quite right! Since I am Christian, a fiscal and social conservative, believe in proper use and care of the Constitution, Natural Law, and deplore the direction this nation is being dragged towards by Obama and his cohorts, I am indeed an idealogue in that sense. I also deplore people of “great mental flexibility” in that they typically have no backbone at all and can stand for something only until they are swayed the other way by the next article they read or person they listen to. They have no solid foundation to build upon. Moral relativism is a weak position.

    The idea that strong beliefs are anathema to gathering data, analyzing it, and forming new opinions from the result is simply wrong, for that is the way of truth. To change strong beliefs, however, takes much stronger evidence and a valid trail of cause and effect, which is quite often seriously lacking, especially in policy matters. Yet the true believer would have that gap bridged by faith alone (hope and change, for example), which works to a degree in a religious or propaganda sense, but fails miserably over time in normal, mundane political and social life. We must live with hurtful policy decisions that over time show serious unintended consequences for the people, until someone or some group has sufficient courage to fix it

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  71. dennis says:

    @mannning:

    I also deplore people of “great mental flexibility” in that they typically have no backbone at all and can stand for something only until they are swayed the other way by the next article they read or person they listen to. They have no solid foundation to build upon. Moral relativism is a weak position.

    There’s truth in that, manning. I admit, I struggle with the possibility of that in my own life. The solid, unwavering principle that bolsters my confidence, though, is to treat my fellow human beings with the same respect, dignity, civility, and grace that I would like in return. Principle is good; however, if your principle is harming another, or even a whole group of people, then I would hope you would see the damage your principle is doing and would change. Equality in marriage, for example.

    The very fact that unisexual and hermaphroditic organisms exist in nature is proof to me of evolutionary biology and natural selection. The proposition that the god of the bible created such organisms and then condemns homosexual relationships is a cruel, contradictory viewpoint that I’m not buying, especially since the only evidence of its own truths is the bible itself.

    But, still, faithholders cling to that old time religion like there’s no tomorrow, while hating on their fellow humans. Nah, I’ll take the flexibility of thought and reason anytime over stubbornly clinging to outdated ideas that do nothing but hold us back as a species.

    And don’t worry, mannning; I know you are special, and fearfully and wonderfully made. Just like the other 6,973,738,432 people on this planet.

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  72. mannning says:

    @dennis:

    I am not sure that I can express my beliefs clearly enough, and I am very sure that I would have a difficult time defending them at a theological convocation, but I will give it a try. Interpreting the Bible as either the Word of God solely, or The Word of God plus additions or subtractions by others seems to be the problem.

    There is a core of beliefs in Christianity one finds that synchronizes with our society today, but there are Bible passages that do not synchronize at all. I believe four of them refer to homosexuality explicitly. The challenge any Christian faces is whether to take the Bible literally, every word, or to find that core belief system that speaks to morality, humanity, spirituality and lifetime guidance, and to simply ignore the asyncronous parts, just as most of us ignore the worship of snakes that certain passages refer to, or those that defile homosexuality. In the end, one has to decide what to believe for himself, and not be fettered by the inconsistences of the Bible, the teachings of clerics, the pontifications of ministers, or the clamorings of the many groups involved–for and against homosexuality and equal marriage.

    As you know, Christianity is not a monolithic belief system, and even within each of the many sects there are substantial differences of opinion as to what is right and what is wrong, some being rather trivial, but some are very substantial; equal marriage is one of those. My own belief, which has evolved over the past years, is that we should allow equal marriage throughout the nation. God will sort it out later if it turns out to be wrong. At the same time, I see this issue as very polarizing and fraught with deep religious anger for many, many people, which is distressing. That is why in an earlier comment of mine I expressed the idea of a two-step process that might be less threatening: 1) Employ civil unions from the government, nominally state governments; and then 2) Have a religious marriage ceremony by a willing minister. Some time later, these two steps could be combined into one as acceptance becomes the norm.

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  73. dennis says:

    @mannning:

    That was a great commentary, mannning, and I appreciate your taking the time to write it. And let me apologize for being abrasive in my last post.

    I was a devout Christian — no, scratch that — I considered myself a devout Christian for many years. As I grew older, I began to question my faith, until one day I walked away from it. I learned how to consciously think critically while working on a masters degree and that’s when the real questioning began which culminated in turning my back on religion altogether.

    I need to learn how to engage the still religious in the same manner you engaged in the above post. I’m still getting the feel of this non-belief thing. I guess we’d better end the discussion ’cause we’re killing it.

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  74. mannning says:

    @dennis:

    Be well!

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