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Friday, October 29, 2010

The White Party

Way back in August of 2008, with presidential campaign in full swing, then DNC chair Howard Dean accidentally told an interviewer at NPR what he really thought. "If you look at folks of color, even women, they're more successful in the Democratic Party than they are in the white, uh, excuse me, in the Republican Party," he said, "because we just give more opportunity to folks who are hard-working people who are immigrants and come from members of minority groups." Of course, calling Republicans the "white party" was the worst thing ever.

"Howard Dean's comments on race and gender today are disappointing and wrong," responded Dean's GOP counterpart, Mike Duncan. "His efforts to divide Americans are an insult to all our nation's citizens and have absolutely no place in the national dialogue."

Yeah, about those "efforts to divide Americans":





Someone on the right is trying to divide America into white people who vote and non-white people who don't. And this is really nothing new. In 2004, a flier was distributed -- purporting to be from the "Milwaukee Black Voters League" -- in Milwaukee's African-American neighborhoods. It stated that it was illegal to vote if they'd voted in another election that year (like the primary), that they'd be arrested if they tried to vote while having an outstanding parking ticket, that it'd be illegal to vote if anyone in your family had ever been found guilty of anything, and that it was too late to register to vote (Wisconsin has same-day registration -- i.e., you can register at the polls on election day).

Somewhere, deep in the bowels of the Republican Party, a decision has clearly been made -- that they don't need the votes of anyone other than white Christians. I say this is clear because it's so obvious; Republicans have spent the summer driving anyone who isn't a white Christian away from their party. If you're Muslim, they don't want you. If you're Latino, they don't want you. If you're black, they don't want you. And heaven help you if you're gay.

What's strange about this is that Latinos and Muslims are both fairly conservative demographics. The vast majority of Muslims voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and Bush also made gains with Latinos in 2004. Now, a Latino or a Muslim voting GOP seems a lot like the mice rooting for the cat. They've pretty much purged the party of these undesirables with a campaign of what can only be described as hysterical hatred. For example:

The Upshot:

Judson Phillips, founder of the Tea Party Nation, suggested this weekend that Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) be voted out of Congress for being too liberal and too radical--and because, Phillips said, he's a Muslim who supports terrorists.

And Phillips says he's not about to apologize for that last incendiary charge.


Phillips says that Muslims have the legal right to run for office, but that they deserve special attention: "The Constitution specifies that no religious test can be used to exclude someone from public office. But when someone adheres to an ideology that says kill people who disagree with you, that is something voters should seriously consider when they vote... I am not going to apologize because I'm bothered by a religion that says kill the infidel, especially when I am the infidel... I learned everything I needed to know about tolerance on September 11th."

Apparently, a national disaster brought about by intolerant religious fanatics serves as a lesson in the wisdom of intolerance. Talk about learning the wrong lesson. I can't describe Phillips attitude here without using the word "cowardice." That would just be inaccurate. Yet his attitude is common on the right. It's hysteria, pure and simple.

And, as the tea party takes over the Republican Party, this hysteria over minorities is only going to get worse. A Bloomberg poll finds that tea party members are "more likely than other voters to be white, married, 55 and older, and call themselves born-again Christians" and that "More than six in 10 say [the tea party] advocates government based on Christian principles."

"Those who identify with the Tea Party also take a harder line on illegal immigration," Bloomberg reports, "54 percent of Tea Party backers say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports a proposal to change the 14th Amendment of the Constitution to prevent the children of non-citizens born in the U.S. from automatically becoming citizens, compared with 48 percent of all likely voters."

If you're not a white Christian, the GOP is no place for you. The White Party is making that clear.

-Wisco


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