In The National Review Kevin Williamson writes With Landrieu’s Loss, the End of an Epoch
Naturally, this will be seized upon as an opportunity to proclaim the grapes sour: The Democrats, being intellectually dishonest, cling to the myth that the two parties “switched places” on racial issues in the 1960s, that Senator Landrieu’s troubles are a consequence of that reversal, and that the general Southern realignment is evidence that the Republican party is a comfortable home for bigots, Confederate revanchists, and others with dodgy racial politics.
This is a strange line of argument, and an indefensible one once the evidence is considered. Democrats remained the favored party in the South for decades and decades after the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, controlling a majority of governorships, Senate seats, state legislative bodies, etc., well into the 21st century.
A few obvious questions: If white Southerners were really so enraged about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and if they switched to the Republican party to express their displeasure, then why did they wait 30 years before making that preference felt in House elections? Why did Dwight D. Eisenhower — a supporter of civil-rights legislation who insisted on the actual desegregation of the armed forces (as opposed to President Truman’s hypothetical desegregation) and federal agencies under his control — win a larger share of the Southern vote in 1956 than Barry Goldwater, the most important Republican critic of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, did two cycles later? Why did Mississippi elect only one Republican governor in the entire 20th century, and that not until 1992? Why didn’t Alabama have a Republican governor until 1987? And why did Louisiana wait 60 years to eliminate its last Democratic senator in favor of a candidate from the party of Condoleezza Rice, Ben Carson, Allen West, Mia Love, Tim Scott, and that not-very-white guy who serves as governor of Louisiana? White supremacy should be made of sterner stuff: Did somebody forget to tell Louisiana state senator and newly confirmed Republican Elbert Guillory that he’s black?
Strange that redneck bigots would wait for so many decades to punish the Democrats for giving up cross-burning; my own experience with that particular demographic suggests that its members do not in general have that sort of attention span.
That being the case, Democrats should spare us their batty tales about Louisiana sending off the South’s last Democratic senator — a sanctimonious white lady if ever there was one — because white bigots are being inspired by a governor one generation away from Punjab, Haitian refugees representing Utah in the House, andthis National Review cruise aficionado. From George Wallace’s infamous stand in the schoolhouse door to Barack Obama’s, embarrassing racial politics are the Democrats’ bread and butter.
Progressivism decays partially because of its success. Half of the graduate degrees, medical degrees, law degrees and accounting degrees now go to women yet the ‘war on women’ plays on like a 78 rpm in an mp3 world : fewer and fewer people are listening or reacting to it. Like any centrally planned state it proves incapable of responding to the speed of change in a modern society.
Even as the current issues in Ferguson and Eric Garner’s tragedy are played in racial terms we also note the abuse of power of the police. the over zealous regulations (selling single cigarettes) as a part of the problem. Michael Brown’s case is very different from Eric Garner’s; while the media is seduced by the racial narrative, others are abhorred by the implied suggestion that a court of law should be usurped by a liberal lynch mob.
Racial differences are still reflected in voting blocks, but whites’ attention to this cause can shift. The left is rudderless without the liberal causes of the sixties to champion, but the current generation is less attuned to these issues because of the the success we have achieved as a country in these arenas.
Racial and ethnic differences wile always be with us, but these differences are to be celebrated. Differences, even when observed as stereotypes are not the same as prejudices. Views that are assumed to be prejudiced by race can also be seen as cultural and economic. Zogby noted years ago that voting patterns noted by racial and sexual mix can often be more accurately predicted by income and culture. It is often easier to predict one’s vote by the size of their 401k, the car they drive or their preference for shopping (Walmart vs Target, Nordstrum vs Saks).
Racism and sexism are not the deciding factors they once were. Michale Brown and Eric Garner, tragedies that they are, do not prove otherwise. This should be a source of pride for the left. The critical group now is the working middle class. Chuck Schumer has finally recognized this. His colleges should recognize their victories and better understand their losses and adjust to the new reality.