In a nutshell

Mitt Romney is running on racism.

Tom Edsall nails it:

The Republican ticket is flooding the airwaves with commercials that develop two themes designed to turn the presidential contest into a racially freighted resource competition pitting middle class white voters against the minority poor.

Read the whole thing. Edsall lays out the argument in detail, and with lots of supporting facts. Of course the Birther non-joke fits in nicely.

No, you don’t have to be a racist to vote Republican, any more than you have to be Jewish to love Levy’s Rye. But you can’t vote Republican this year without ratifying the most brutally racial campaign since the Willy Horton ad in 1988.

Also note that there are two ways in which Republicans benefit from the largely successful efforts of their Congressional wing to tank the economy: directly when voters blame the bad results on Obama, and indirectly by deepening ethnic and class tensions.


Update  More analysis and video here.


Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

16 thoughts on “In a nutshell”

  1. The Republicans I know all claim (apparently sincerely) that they’re not racist. Apparently their standard for racism is (a) having personally shot an unarmed black man in the back, execution style, under color of state authority, or (b) having personally burned a cross on a black family’s lawn. Since they’ve never done these things, and consider them distasteful, they can’t be racists.

  2. Watch Chris Matthews go after Rience Priebus on this morning’s Morning Joe. Loved it.

    1. It was nice to see Tweety trying to fight the good fight, but it didn’t really strike me as a particularly well-executed attempt. He spent too much time blustering, rather than asking the sharp, specific questions that might have discomforted Rience “The American George Osborne” Priebus.

      1. He’s not perfect, but I disagree. He asked: what is funny about the birther joke? And why is a concept promoted by both Roosevelts and Truman is suddenly “European” when Obama gets behind it? Why?

        Matthews was bracing and effective while Mika B., Brokaw and Joe S. were embarrassing.

        1. Bracing, yes,no, maybe. I am not sure Tweety enjoys sufficient credibility these days to be tremendously effective. I also have my doubts as to whether invoking TR, FDR or Truman matters in this age of historical ignorance. Then again, the audience for this stuff is a tiny fraction of the population as a whole. That’s why I think that Matthews’ splutterings will have a minimal impact. And yes, the Three Stooges you mentioned were wretchedly stupid – but that’s generally how this type of show works or doesn’t work. As for Priebus, yes, he comes off as a truly repellent little toad, but I don’t imagine most GOP voters care much about that. This is, after all, the party that managed to find Gingrich – a crude, ignorant, small-minded, sexually corrupt blowhard – very much to their taste over an extended period.

  3. In the New Scientist issue focused on inequality (July 28th-August 3) this snippet appeared in the magazines’s opening editorial:

    No doubt a deeply entrenched elite has fostered this situation to protect its own interests. But it may have been allowed to become entrenched because of another set of cognitive biases. Many of us seem keenest to seek out free riders among those that have least–the indigent and dispossessed, the stateless and the homeless. Perhaps this the so-called “just-world-hypothesis” at work, the belief that the world is an orderly place in which people get their just desserts.

    These cognitive biases have always been exploited by the Republican Party.
    The model goes like this:

    1) Billionaires input huge sums of money: Aldeson willing to dump 100 million plus into Romney’s PACs. “Whatever it takes”, he says.

    2) GOP runs ads that go after the welfare queens, etc. Trading on the cognitive biases inherent in humans.

    3) Middle class votes just enough against the poor (and themselves) to keep the rich in power.

    In essence: Class war waged from the top down. To have a chance to win this war, everybody on the left, left center, and middle has got to focus on this fundamental. That is focus on the rich getting richer at the expense of the middle class. Never mind the drones. Never mind Manning. Never mind porker Bowles for Treasury secretary. Only one thing matters now: Beating the Kochs and Aldesons with an ugly stick. They’ve got to lose. All that other stuff can come later if Obama wins, or not at all (the left will have no imput) if R-Money wins…

    1. The racecard or with Obama, the African- American card, with the accent on the first and constant questioning of the second, is the strategy by which the jumped up Republican financiers old and new, seduce or attempt to, the white working class to vote, for Romney, clearly against their own working class interests.

      Charles Piercewrites today, in Esquire: “What we have in this campaign is a joining of old Republican money with the modern American financial universe, and its power applied to advance ideas straight out of the swamps of the Wallace campaign 50 years ago“.

    2. The racism pitch sells a lot better than the real R-Money pitch which would go sort of like this:

      1. We’re operating above the carrying-capacity of the Earth (never admitted in public)
      2. The American way of life is non-negotiable (Cheney doctrine)
      3. This goes double or triple for platinum-citizens (top 0.1%)
      4. We need to off-load a bunch of economy-class citizens (via entitlements reform)

      Vote R-Money! Because America needs a 15% RIF! (Hooray!)

  4. I can still only see incoherence in the conservative vision of meritocracy and vast racial inequalities. How do they explain this persistent “behavioral gap” as they might put it. The standard tropes – that liberal hand-outs have created a “culture of dependency” is not merely ugly, but not supported by facts (“gut feeling” maybe, but not facts). And even then, how is it not racist to think blacks as so incapable of free thought as to have made what are assumed to be the “correct” choices in life. It’s turtles pretty far down, but at some point the turtles are wearing black-face.

  5. The sister of a friend is down and living with my friend. She is 50ish, single with ne’er do well kids, has health problems, works at Home Depot without benefits.
    She applied for medicaid but didn’t qualify. Her take on it: “My skin was the wrong color.” We know who she will vote for.
    GOP slogan: It’s the “Stupid Vote” stupid!

  6. Note that Edsall is about six paragraphs in before he discusses the veracity of the Romney attack, and even then, he only quotes other people saying Romney isn’t exactly telling the truth.

  7. …perhaps because it’s been proven false by now?

    In the world of honest people, proven lies do not need to be repeatedly proven again.

    1. You’ve missed my point, and Edsall’s. It’s Edsall who thinks he needs to prove the claim is false, then he does a weak job of it. I think he should note up front that Romney is lying. Any proof he decides to offer should be actual proof, and not just the opinion of a source.

  8. I didn’t read Edsall’s piece, but I knew this was coming. If anything, I’m a bit surprised it took this long for republican Super PAC’s to put some resources into this meme. From the moment Rick Santorum made his dog whistle, I knew that was going to be the most effective ploy to get apathetic middle class whites to the polls.

    Romney and his team know that the more people listen to him, the less interested they are in voting. And since plutocrats don’t have a cogent alternative for 98% of their voters other than “NObama” (reminiscent of “ABB Voters”), they’re down to race baiting.

    The question is: What do we do about that? Those most susceptible to this tactic aren’t Obama voters anyway, so the real question is how to keep the racists at home. And I’d say double-down on the Bain Capital ads. It’s clear people don’t like Romney, and they’ll be less likely to go to the polls if they know they have to cast a vote for a double-talking businessman who would throw his grandma off of Medicare and Social Security. Wait, that gives me an idea…

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