In victory, magnanimity

My take on today’s events.


Time for Clinton campaign to turn most of its firepower on the Republicans and to help Democrats down-ticket who will really matter in November. Whatever divisions might appear and be artificially magnified on social media, Senator Sanders and almost all of his followers are just as committed to protecting women’s reproductive rights and health reform as the Clintons themselves are.

Oh yeah. Donald Trump won today’s Republican primary in South Carolina. As a result, Jeb Bush dropped out after yet another poor finish. He was not an effective candidate. Someday he will be able to look back and take pride in the simple fact that he was so out of step with an indecent 2016 GOP primary electorate.

What’s wrong with that GOP primary electorate? You tell me.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

13 thoughts on “In victory, magnanimity”

  1. It's unclear to me how, given that most blacks chose to be Democrats, how Republicans are supposed to produce black votes in their primaries. Press gangs?

    We have a brute fact here: Most blacks are Democrats, very few Republicans. You interpret this as something wrong about Republicans. Republicans interpret this as something wrong about blacks.

    I think a lot more data and argument would be needed to establish which view, if either, is valid.

    1. What exactly is it that Republicans think is wrong about blacks? That they don't know what's good for them? That they don't think giving out huge state tax breaks at the expense of say, education, (see Kansas, Louisiana), or huge federal breaks designed to create a permanent tax-free aristocracy (see Rubio et al) are attractive policies? That they don't think climate change is a giant hoax? Or that they would like to have decent drinking water and reasonably clean air and so aren't much impressed by anti-regulatory fanaticism? That they think guns actually do kill people? Or is something else?

      Whatever it is, I'd say both your propositions could easily be true. Republicans do think there is something wrong about blacks, and that very fact makes it reasonable for blacks to think there si something wrong about Republicans.

      1. I suppose they think the same thing that's wrong with anybody who's a Democrat. Only more so than most ethic groups, since blacks are absurdly over-represented in the Democratic party.

        So, if blacks are under-represented in the Republican party, and this says something bad about the Republican party, does the fact that, say, whites, are under-represented in the Democratic party, imply that there's something bad about the Democratic party?

        Or does this sort of reasoning only apply to ethnic/racial imbalance when it would make Democrats look good?

        1. No Brett. You're kidding yourself. I'm a Democrat. I also happen to be Jewish, well-educated, and fairly prosperous. Does the Republican Party really think that "what's wrong" with me is the same thing they think "is wrong" with blacks?

          A big part of the problem with your comment is that "whites" are not actually an ethnic group in the way that African-Americans are. We do not share similar family and personal histories, culture, linguistic and religious backgrounds, cuisine, etc. to anything approaching the degree that African-Americans do. Whites are vastly more diverse in terms of non-skin color related traits – national origin and other things. I have little in common, in terms of background or personal life experience, with say, a white evangelical southerner (and I even lived in the South for many years.) "Whites" are an "ethnic group" only for those who want to define them as such to complain about unfairness, and so on, as you seem to want to do.

          Let's look at one aspect. In 2012 Romney got 59% of the white vote to Obama's 39%. Pretty impressive. Something wrong with the Democrats, probably, who clearly hold anti-white views. But take out the white evangelicals and what happens? Look at the white evangelical/born-again voters, who made up 26% of the electorate, hence 36% of the white vote. Seventy-eight to twenty-one to Romney. You're good at arithmetic. You can see that outside of that group the white vote split evenly, with Obama perhaps having a small edge.

          So maybe there's no "anti-white" aspects to the Democrats after all. Maybe there is an identifiable group of whites, with common cultural characteristics, that disagrees with Democratic policies.

          1. " Does the Republican Party really think that "what's wrong" with me is the same thing they think "is wrong" with blacks? "

            Yes. Generally, what Republicans think is wrong with Democrats, of any race or gender is…. that they're not Republicans! It's as trivially simple as that.

            Just as Democrats see no legitimate, (By which I mean non-pejorative; Not, "Of course if you're a capitalist oppressor the GOP is your party!") reason for being a Republican, Republicans see no legitimate reason for being a Democrat. It means you're stupid, you're deluded, buying votes with tax money, have had your vote bought with tax money, were brainwashed by liberal teachers, any number of things. None of them good.

            Republicans don't look at blacks, and think, "Well, sure, if I were black, naturally I'd be a loyal member of the party of Strom Thurmond and Robert Byrd." They think, "What the Hell is wrong with you, that you're a loyal member of the party of Strom Thurmond and Robert Byrd???"

            Just last Thursday, I was at the Conservative Convention in Greenville. Ben Carson was a featured speaker. He got a standing ovation. Why? Because he's a Republican, talking like a Republican. People didn't say, "Eh, he's saying what we want to hear, but he's black, who cares."

            If you can ask what's the matter with Kansas, Republicans are certainly entitled to ask what's the matter with blacks.

          2. "Well, sure, if I were black, naturally I'd be a loyal member of the party of Strom Thurmond and Robert Byrd."

            Brett, Republicans are the party of Strom Thurmond. So by your argument African-American allegiance to the Democrats makes perfect sense. Robert Byrd? That's the name you guys throw out when you get desperate and have to resort to really stupid arguments.

            Oh, and what happened to the claim that Republicans see blacks as no different than white Deomocrats? Why the sudden focus on Thurmond (R., SC) who formed the Dixiecrats, filibustered the 1964 CRA, and became officially a Republican in 1965, more than half-century ago.

            Go to fewer Conservative Conventions.

    2. When history books are written 20 or 30 years from now (and later), it is highly unlikely that they will say that Obama was hostile to American values, sympathetic to jihadist terrorists, and that he tried to fundamentally change everything that makes America America, and nearly succeeded. They will not determine that he was not a natural born citizen, ineligible to serve as president, nor will they say he was a secret Muslim or atheist. They almost certainly won't say that Obama was hostile to private enterprise or the wealthy; they will not say that he was hostile to white people or white culture.They won't say that Obama was the most radical president ever, or that his presidency was an abject failure or dark turn in the nation's history. Instead, they will say that he was a Democratic president, whose ideology was that of a typical center-left Democrat, and that he had some significant successes and failures.

      All the things above that the history books probably won't say, are things that GOP presidential candidates in 2012 and 2014 do or did say. It's also the constant chorus from Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Fox News and numerous other people, some of whom make the aforementioned look like level-headed moderates. They are of course entitled to their opinions, but a party that strenuously advances this sort of thing is not going to attract black voters. In fact, it is a party that acts like it has decided that black votes are unobtainable, and that the best strategy for victory is to rile up white voters with ridiculous hyperbole and thinly-veiled (at best) racism.

      1. I disagree that future history books will not see Obama's presidency as a dark turn in the nation's history. Obama's refusal to prosecute torturers, and his violations of due process in keeping people imprisoned at Guantanamo, in executing suspected terrorists with drones, and in maintaining the no-fly list, will come back to haunt us. Obama's actions mean that, the next time that a 9/11-type incident occurs, the nation will accept that the President has dictatorial power and may torture and imprison as he pleases. Would Trump be advocating torture if Bush and Cheney were in prison for torturing?

    3. Yeah, I'd say it's a pretty safe bet that Republicans think something is wrong with blacks, particularly working near them, living near them, and them not settling meekly into a plantation mentality. Naughty bad blackies. Why, they should ADORE efforts to dampen the minimum wage, gut reproductive rights, defund public education, offshore all our manufacturing, throw away their pensions to Wall St., try hundreds of times to eliminate the healthcare they were just given, lampoon, degrade, obstruct, malign the first black president at every single step, gerrymander districts to deny black votes, impose new Jim Crow voting laws under Scalia's fiats, deny voting rights to all ex-cons in Dixie who have paid their debt to society, poison their children…..honestly why wouldn't they flock to the GOP and TeaParty in droves??? There truly is something wrong with them. But nothing a repeal of the 13th and 14th Amendment can't cure. At the very least, let's make certain they can't vote!

  2. For Afro-Americans to vote for Democrats takes no more education and sophistication than it took for illiterate Russian peasants in 1917 to see that the SRs were on their side and the Bolsheviks were not.

    Harold is right that Clinton is now almost assured of the Democratic nomination over Sanders. The most probable election lineup is now Clinton vs Trump. This has the potential for a Goldwater-scale disaster for the GOP. GOP Congressional candidates cannot avoid the negative coat-tails, and neither supporting nor disowning Trump will look attractive. For President Clinton to have a chance of governing at all effectively, she will need her party to regain control of the Senate and inflict enough damage in the House to make the current GOP line of total obstruction infeasible. I do hope the Bernie bros and sisters will turn their energy and passion towards electing progressive Democrats in the pickups, starting with the primaries.

  3. Someday [Bush] will be able to look back and take pride in the simple fact that he was so out of step with an indecent 2016 GOP primary electorate.

    Maybe he will.

    My feeling from the beginning was that his heart just wasn't in it, because Bush family campaigns are not generally genteel affairs. It's obvious that except for Hillary Jeb knows more about the reality of being President than any of the other candidates. Deep down, he just didn't want it.

    1. Here is the flap of the butterfly wings scenario – In 1994, Jeb barely lost his first run at governor of Florida while his brother George managed a close victory in Texas. If their fates had been reversed, Jeb rather than George would have been the presumptive candidate in 2000. Wonder what US history would have been like.

  4. If it turns out to be the case that Clinton now has an insurmountable lead, to me that will only mean that our DP systems are flawed. She certainly has not won the argument. Nor do I think she will be a shoe-in against Trump, however much she deserves for this to be the case (and she does). It makes me sorry to say it but I am not seeing a landslide for her yet. Boy is this a weird time.

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