NPR: White Bloc Voting is a Problem

I've been arguing for a while now that Donald Trump is effectively building a white voting bloc, but that this is a response to the success of Democrats in building a black voting bloc, a Latino voting bloc, and an Asian voting bloc.

In other words, Trump's success is predicated on finishing a project that was 90% complete when he got here:  racializing American politics.  It's a terrible idea, but one that has a high probability of success.  It's already the case in other American democracies such as Brazil's, where parties allegedly have principles but are really mostly about tribal identities.  The Democrats have succeeded in convincing large swathes of America that 'our kind of people' just don't vote for Republicans.  It was only to be expected that someone would eventually come along and make the same sort of appeal to whites -- especially as whites are actually the majority, and could dominate in such a racialized environment.

So into this comes NPR's Gene Demby, who writes that "whiteness" is shaping the election.
It's telling that Chait finds it easier to imagine that huge swaths of Republican primary voters are childlike and naive, rather than folks who quite rationally dig Trump's direct appeals to their interests — their racial interests. Among Trump's most notorious policy proposals is a moratorium on Muslims entering the country. He has called Mexican immigrants "rapists." Maybe we should concede that these declarations are not incidental to his appeal among his supporters, but central to them. Calling them "idiots" posits that they've been duped, when perhaps Trump is saying precisely what they want to hear.
What is missing is a criticism of racialized bloc voting in general. What Trump is doing is bad for America. At the same time, he's just completing the work that the Democrats began a long time ago. What we need is not a criticism of white people for giving in to a racialized appeal. What we need is a criticism of politicians who make racialized appeals. We need to break up all of these racial voting blocs, somehow, if we're going to get to a politics that is principled instead of tribal.

Now, I don't have any idea how you do that. Part of the reason this mode is so successful is that is a kind of software that works well with the hardware: human beings readily break out into identity groups. It's hard to break up those groups once people identify with them. And it's hard to get them to prefer rational principles to group interests.

But let's at least be clear about what the problem is. It's not "whiteness." It's racial politics per se.


J Melcher said...

By the way, thank you for letting me vent, here.

Seems to me that the racial divisions are amplified if not built entirely by the narrative frame of our media. Let a candidate say the sky is blue, and our press corps will report not on the statement itself but the response of the opposition, and the reaction of groups in the latest poll. "Among left-handed Hispanic women over 60 the reaction to Trump's 'blue sky' assertion was generally favorable, but black males in the 18-45 demographic took the as a challenge to the BLM movement..."

A rare exception is the polling category for "Evangelicals" but even there it's as if a Black citizen can't be evangelical. Nor can most of the journalists using the term identify any three political issues where Evangelicals differ significantly from, say, Catholics or "other religious."

Any person wanting to affect change must generally regard the available parades -- either as Buckley declared, standing athwart the movement yelling stop, or as most politicians do, running to the front and announcing "I'm the leader." It's why the framing question to politicians is important, and why the question is not asked. Certainly the parade groups are not polled.

Mr/Ms Candidate, can you work with the teachers' unions toward their goals regarding Common Core? (Assume the candidate knows what those goals are, and while maybe not supporting every tactic is generally able to be supportive.) Might also be asked as "supporting parents in their concerns about Common Core" but in any case take a side among existing factions, rather than mouthing platitudes about the unrealistic ideal itself.

Would you support La Raza towards political power in Aztlan?

Is the NRA overdoing their concern about confiscation of hand guns?

Is the American Legion justified in criticizing the VA hospital's "wait times"?

Are PFLAG's recommendations about LGBT bathrooms in retail stores a proposal you can endorse?

Is the San Francisco School District's decision to hand out free condoms in middle school the start of a trend; and a follow up, would you support the open free-enterprise for-profit sale of such items at middle school to those students who need, and can afford them?

The American Library Association argues that Twain's _Huckleberry Finn_ and David Levithan's _Two Boys Kissing_ are equally deserving of inclusion on the shelves. Can you please comment?

Journalists easily could identify large groups with issues that matter. They don't. They deliberately don't. They instead impose group boundaries and issue definition upon all of us that not only polarize, but divide on stupid and trivial matters. Flag-burning. Global Warming. Spotted owls. Chaplains. "Don't immanentize the eschaton!" Boxers or Briefs.

Jefferson wrote that between government with no newspapers and newspapers with no government, he would prefer the latter. Sadly our culture has chosen the former.

Grim said...

You're welcome.

Is the NRA overdoing their concern about confiscation of hand guns?

You know, some years they really do -- but then it seems like you get to a year like this one every little while, in which the Supreme Court hangs in the balance and the opposition candidate really seems as if she thinks that there's just too many guns, and didn't Australia have a great solution way back when...

Ymar Sakar said...

Trump is a Democrat. Why wouldn't he complete his party's life long mission... people were already claiming the Democrats and GOp were in cahoots. Well, this is what it would look like if the Soviets and the Americans signed an alliance.

Now politically what does it mean? It means the "curse on both their houses" would actually apply in this situation.

Ymar Sakar said...

Is the NRA overdoing their concern about confiscation of hand guns?

The NRA is considered by many in my associate circles to be too lukewarm and even too compromising with gun grabbers.

They don't make a political hash out of it, but from what I've seen, that is a strong undercurrent of belief that things are a lot more serious than what the NRA claims.

The Left fights the NRA primarily because the NRA is mainstream and individual opinions are not. But the NRA is like Malcom X and Martin Luther junior. If you got rid of only Luther, Malcom X would take over, and then things would really get radical. So the Left should prefer to keep the NRA as the face. Because if they manage to destroy the NRA somehow, like they did the Tea Party logistics... well, what replaces them may not be pretty. It would be effective though due to human survival instincts.

Ymar Sakar said...

Also, the US government has already conducted operations to confiscate handguns from citizens. New Orleans during Katrina for example.

It's not a slippery slope. It has already happened. Even Waco 1 was a good example of trying to confiscate guns. Some are US State govs. Others are US federal level agents. Some may even be BLM and national bureaucratic SS forces.