The Echo Chamber
Friday, December 20, 2002
  2:59 PM

So Lott was the Victim of a Double Standard, Who Cares?

Lott has stepped down as Senate Majority Leader, but has so far not resigned his seat in the Senate.

Throughout this process there have been a few conservatives whining that Lott was getting a raw deal. That when liberals such as Robert Byrd or Jesse Jackson are caught talking about "white niggers" and "hymietown" (respectively) they get a pass. Our guys get brought down.

Yeah, so? We are the party that advocates the hard solutions rather than knee-jerk handouts. We are right to be as critical of wrong within our own party as we are of the wrongheaded social programs advocated by the other side.

Look at our party from the point of view of a minority on welfare. There you are, getting your meager check from the government. You’re convinced that you can't do better. You’re taught not to dream of better but depend on the Democratic politicians for scraps from the table. You're unhappy with the little that you get, but are desperate to keep it. You hear a conservative commentator (probably Rush) talk about the American dream, about working yourself up and out of the trap you’re in. Maybe you even find it inspiring, but then others tell you that all that talk is nothing but a cover for racism. That they want to take away your little check in order to keep you down. You don’t know what to believe.

Then along comes Lott. First he confirms your deepest fears about the motives of the conservatives. Then, as penance for his remark, he agrees to support racial preferences. You, as the minority on welfare, are not on the fence anymore.

Most conservative voices got it. Most understood why Lott’s statement was so damaging. And nobody should particularly care if Lott got a schlacking that a liberal would not have. We are fighting (or should be fighting) an uphill battle to win the hearts and minds of minorities. We have to do it better than the other side. 


Thursday, December 19, 2002
  2:46 PM

Iraq is in Breach

...and it's because of their arms declaration


Monday, December 16, 2002
  3:03 PM

Trent Lott has put a spotlight on conservatives.

Lott’s remark exposed his own bias. But the reaction of his own party is more important.

The mainstream media was slow to run with the Lott scandal. It seems that the average American sensed the importance of Lott’s statement much quicker than the national media. Being one that has long felt that the news media is a group of sharks that will frenzy anytime blood is in the water (and particularly G.O.P. blood) I was surprised.

Here’s my theory. Compared to their size within the electorate, black Americans have had a relatively small impact on national politics since the success of the civil rights movement and the utter defeat of the forces represented by Strom Thurmond back in 1948. The sole reason for the small impact of black Americans is the remarkable party loyalty of black Americans.

Black Americans vote so exclusively Democratic that the Democrats can afford to ignore them. Democrats gain little if they make promises to the black community. Sure they spend money “getting out the black vote.” But why spend political capital making and then keeping promises to appeal to black voters? It’s unnecessary. For Democratic politicians, black voters play the devoted wife to their wayward husband. No need to send flowers or romance her. Heck, she’ll even forgive the girl on the side, because, where is she gonna go?

Meanwhile, Republicans have learned again and again that they gain little trying to appeal to black voters. Their efforts are much better spent appealing to their political base: conservative (social and fiscal) white voters. President Bush was the first Republican Presidential candidate in recent memory who even tried to court black voters. He was rewarded with less than 10% of the black vote. Of all the time and money he spent during the 2000 campaign, this investment saw the worst return. One wonders if he’ll even bother in 2004.

So why then is Lott in trouble? Why couldn’t he just issue a single weak apology and then get on with business? One could argue that support of the GOP among blacks could hardly be worse – so how much political harm could he have caused himself? The problem for both Lott, and for the slow-moving mainstream press, is a remarkable misreading of the new conservative base. Both Lott and the press must have thought that we conservatives are bigoted rednecks that would loose dogs on peaceful protesters. But “Bull” Conners we’re not.

White Americans who were born in the late sixties are now in their mid-thirties. They grew up in integrated classrooms. They work in integrated workplaces. Integration is the norm and is not resented. They actually believe that people should be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Because they’ve lived Dr. King’s dream their entire lives, they aren’t burdened by a lot of white guilt. And so they are against affirmative action but are in favor of head start and teacher testing. They believe there is no innate racial difference that prevents blacks from succeeding in America.

Lott apparently failed to see that his mostly white political base would be as outraged by his comments as black Americans. He apparently thought that members of my generation are pining away for the opportunity to eat in restaurants free of black people. This man does not represent conservative America. For that reason he has to be replaced as Senate majority leader.

The media sharks initially missed this story’s impact apparently because they didn’t see Lott’s remark as particularly damaging considering his “bigoted” base. They didn’t smell the blood in the water. They were as mistaken about conservatives as Lott.

Being conservative is palatable for a majority of Americans only if it is tempered with compassion for all Americans. Conservatives like the fact that America has been a model of racial harmony for the last thirty years. Lott obviously regrets the progress made. Fine, he can regret it all by himself.

As for black America, I can only suggest that you will be better appreciated by both parties if you vote Republican from time to time. Conservative resentment of Lott’s comment shows we’re not a bunch of racists over here.
 


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