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Racial politics still with us PDF Print E-mail
Barlow's Beat
Wednesday, 03 October 2012 16:15

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The Republican Party, even its own leaders have admitted, has used race very effectively in presidential campaigns since 1968.  To be accurate, Democrats, especially in the South, did the same in the Jim Crow era.

But since Richard Nixon’s winning Southern Strategy to attract disaffected, segregationist Democrats, racially tinged campaigns have been successfully employed by Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, too.

It has been successful at all levels.  The late Senator Jesse Helms was a master at such politics.

The Republican controlled state legislature has fought against the Racial Justice Act, compensation for eugenics victims, many of whom were blacks, and is attempting to limit current election rules that increase voting among blacks and the elderly.

While President Obama managed to overcome racial resistance in 2008, the issue has not gone away.  Says former Virginia Governor and African American Doug wilder, “There are some of us that had thought it would lessen after Barack Obama’s election in 2008.  And yet, I can tell you here in Virginia, the animus, the feeling of almost direct opposition is obvious.”

There was an effort earlier this year by pro-Mitt Romney, Chicago billionaire Joe Ricketts to smear Mr. Obama with racist remarks from his former minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.  To his credit Mitt Romney denounced the plan and declared it was not part of his campaign.

Ignored by major TV networks was the incident at this year’s Republican National Convention by two official Alabama delegates.  They threw peanuts at a black CNN camera woman, teasing her, “This is how we feed the animals.”  They were tossed as they should have been.

But racism, especially in Southern states, cannot be so easily dismissed.  The facts show that race can move votes.  Mr. Obama already trails among white voters, notably among older, white voters who remember the times and culture before the Civil Rights Revolution of the 1960s.  Many carry those Tea Party signs that proclaim, “We want our country back.”

It’s tradition for campaigns to send out their meanest and dirtiest ads in targeted mailings.  Such advertising also has appeared on TV about this time.

The notorious, racist Willie Horton ad in the 1988 presidential campaign between President George H. W. Bush and Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis started on Sept. 21 and ran through Oct. 5.

The person who produced that ad for a group similar to SuperPACs today was Larry McCarthy.  Guess who he is working for this year?  Right.  Mitt Romney.

Don’t be surprised if history repeats itself.

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