Divided by itself

Byline: | Category: 2008 Presidential Election, Race | Posted at: Monday, 11 February 2008

More than a few good Democrats bristled at my suggestion that racism accounted for some of Hillary Clinton’s margin over Barack Obama in the Tennessee primary last week.  Now even Susan Estrich (who I believe is a Clinton supporter) agrees, saying that racism played a part in Hillary’s victories in California, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts–places that aren’t exactly redneck territory.

No one doubts, or at least no one who is honest does, that both racism and sexism come into play as people decide between Clinton and Obama, but could it be that people are more willing to admit that they won’t vote for the woman than that they won’t vote for the black?

If this is happening even among us good Democrats, what does that say about Obama’s strength in a general election? Not pretty questions. Not a fair world.

No, I’m not surprised that a party that has spent four decades highlighting racial differences now finds itself divided by race.



Sean Braisted sees what is happening in his own party and doesn’t like it:

That isn’t the Democratic party I am a member of, that is the Southern Democratic party of the 1950s and 60s, which I wouldn’t want to be a part of. And yeah, I know some of you are rolling your eyes and think I’m being excessively sensitive, but seriously, let it sink in for a second, she is saying that because he is black, and Louisiana has a large amount of black voters, his win doesn’t mean as much…does that sound like a Democratic position to you?

A.C. Kleinheider reminds Sean that it is a Democratic position.  After all, Lester Maddox was a Democrat.


Jay called it six weeks ago, even before the first vote was cast (emphasis added):

If Barack Obama is going to have trouble with race, that trouble is going to come from within his own party. Now I know that the thought of racists actually existing within the Democratic Party is something most Democrats don’t want to believe in, but it’s true. I’m not talking about the educated, upper crust Democratic voters that live on the Upper East Side in Manhattan and vacation at Martha’s Vineyard and the Hamptons. No. I’m talking about the middle to lower middle-class white voters that live in Queens, Staten Island, South Boston, and similar areas in Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, etc. These are people that hate Republicans because they’re all for “the rich” and vote for Democrats.

But they also drop the ‘n’ word as much as any sh*t kicking redneck you’ll find below the Mason-Dixon line. They won’t turn around and vote for the GOP candidate. But they will stay home.

I grew up in Ohio, went to college in New York and live now in Tennessee after having spent a few years each in Virginia and Texas.  My experience is that Jay is right.  There is no more or less racism whether North or South, whether Republican or Democrat. 

But Jay also points out the obvious.  Racist Republicans won’t vote for Barack Obama because they’re racist, but because they’re Republicans.  They don’t have to reach for the racist reason to vote against him, he’s just another Democrat.  But racist Democrats? Racist Democrats will have only racism to explain their vote against him in November.


Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell joins the fray (emphasis in original):

You’ve got conservative whites here, and I think there are some whites who are probably not ready to vote for an African-American candidate.

Ummmmm . . . Ed, conservative whites haven’t been voting in your primary since about 1976, not because they’re white but because they’re conservative

And let’s make sure that everyone understands loudly and clearly exactly what Rendell, Estrich, et al are saying:

Don’t vote for the black guy, not because you’re racist *wink* but because there are other people out there who are racist and won’t vote for the black guy.

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30 Responses to “Divided by itself”

  1. Mark V. Says:

    “If this is happening even among us good Democrats, what does that say about Obama’s strength in a general election?”

    Ah, yes, the good Democrats. Like Robert Byrd.

  2. Mark in Texas Says:

    Since the Republican primary election is already settled, I urge Republicans in states with open primaries to vote for Barack Obama in the Democratic Primaries. Let us demonstrate that even if Democrats are still hopeless racists, Republicans are willing to vote for a black man as the Democratic candidate for President. Besides, that means that you get to vote against Hillary twice.

  3. Dennis Says:

    I think that many Democrats believe that a black man cannot be elected President. In an election where Democrats should win in a walk, it is risky enough to attempt to elect a female – but a black man is something else again. Why, the argument goes, would we take a chance on what should be a sure thing?

    Frankly, it appears that a Biden or a Dodd would have been a shoe-in.

    Here’s the Dem’s problem. If Obama wins the nomination you lose votes for two reasons – the color of his skin and the fact that the Republicans will offer an acceptable alternative in the moderate John McCain. Remember this is not just a Rep/Dem race, you also need to figure in the Independents.

    If Clinton pulls this out with Super Delegates, Florida and Michigan then the Obama supporters will have a fit. She has relatively high negatives to begin with, Clinton would be would now be risking the loss a significant part of the Democrat base-the black vote. She would be accused of stealing the nomination away from their candidate.

    This is the elephant in the living room for the Left.

  4. Steve Skubinna Says:

    I don’t buy racism as an explanation for the “Bradley Effect,” but plain old white liberal guilt. These Democratic voters are voting their personal choice, yet when polled give the answer they believe is the most acceptable, “progressive” one. In other words. they’re ashamed that they aren’t putting the party orthodoxy to work, and fear drawing charges of racism from the likes of Susan Estrich.

    What I find most puzzling of all, however, is why people even talk to exit pollsters. I’ve never been approached by one, but my answer would be “none of your business.” What part of “secret ballot: is unclear?

  5. Bill D. Says:

    How come she left off all the states where Obama outperformed the polls like Maine, Idaho, Minnesota, etc…

    Another hack trying to make a point by only showing what facts back up her point.

  6. K T Cat Says:

    Why do you assume that the selection is a negative one? Are you saying that the overwhelming black support for Obama is based on misogyny? Maybe they’re just jazzed to have a member of their own race as a candidate. It happens. Why assume that it’s an anti-black vote when people vote for Hillary?

  7. Mike Says:

    What shocks me first is Estrich’s apparent assumption that Republicans ARE racist and that blacks AREN’T. This is a facile debate being carried on by facile people. Of course Democrats are racist – more so than Republicans. What the hell else is affirmative action, for example, other than the belief that minorities are incapable of success without lots of help and, incidentally, paternalistic pity?
    The rural Tennesseeans voting against Obama weren’t the racists – instead, it’s the white urban elites who vote for a black man and then compliment themselves on their open-mindedness and tolerance while sipping lattes at Starbucks who are the real racists. They voted for him BECAUSE he is black.
    The rubes noticed he’s an empty vessel and plunked down for a known quantity.
    But this a perfect race for libs – they can whine either way when they lose – it’s either racism or misogyny. God, what a pathetic party.

  8. countertop Says:

    I grew up outside of New York City in Northern Jersey. My wife’s from Georgia. We met in Knoxvegas at UT.

    After a lifetime of hearing from professional pundits on TV and elsewhere in the media how racist “the south” was and how enlightened “the north” was, she grew to simply accept this notion – and assumed she was somehow a racist but incapable of understanding how.

    When she first visited me and my family in Jersey (and subsequently followed me through post graduate education in New England) – she was shocked. ANd she remains shocked and bitter and angry.

    Sure, she will tell you, there are still some angry redneck racsist, but they live in a trailer in the woods and no one pays them any attention. Everyone else lives side by side, attending the same schools, going to the same stores, living in the same town. Compare that to the Northeast – where blacks live in Ghettos and whites live in plush splendor, and she wants to know which is the racist society.

    I had never really thought of this, but she’s right. In my town, 35 minutes outside of Time Square, we didn’t have a single black family. I went my whole life without going to school with a single black kid until I was in high school and the prep school I attended had recruited one to be our running back (we had a long history of losing, they brought in a big shot coach from Alabama and within 2 years we were Prep School Champs – incidentally, he became my lab partner in science class). Still to this day, white people live in White neighborhoods and black people live in the Ghettos of the Bronx, Newark, Camden. And the two should never meet.

    Mark me down as one who isn’t surprised at all that racism is alive and well in America. However, unlike the cries of democrats, it doesn’t thrive in the conservative red south, its blooming greater than ever in the very blue Northeast.

  9. BIll Says:

    Susan Estrich is a close personal friend of the Clintons, and in every interview I have sen with her, she mentions how she almost lived in the whitehouse.

  10. Darren Says:

    In response to Sean Braisted’s question, quoted near the end of this post’s update:

    Yes, Sean, it sounds exactly like a Democratic position to me, and that’s part of the reason I’m not a Democrat.

  11. Diggs Says:

    ‘California, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts–places that aren’t exactly redneck territory.”
    Uh, you’ve clearly not lived in those areas if you make such a statement. Remember, LA is the place where you can be treated like a king, Rodney King. And I’ve lived in Massachusetts and New York. Are you forgetting the busing riots that took place in Boston? Maybe the Pulitzer prize winning photo of the Southie attacking the black man with an American flag on a pole? There is more racism in New England than in the deep south, and it runs over into New York and New Jersey.

  12. Cannon Asesrb Says:

    “Since the Republican primary election is already settled, I urge Republicans in states with open primaries to vote for Barack Obama in the Democratic Primaries.”

    Will the Obama supporters stop trying to weasel a democrat primary by whining for republican voters to cross party lines. It is the democrat primary. It is time for the democrats to vote for who they believe is the best to represent their party.

    Obama supporters want us to cross party lines to vote for their man. I say Republicans cross party lines. Vote Kuncenich! (Yes I probably misspelled his name, it’s not like I actually paid much attention to the Distinguished Idiot from Ohio.)

  13. howard lohmuller Says:

    The word “racism” is defined as discrimination based on race. Most voters make decisions to vote or not vote for a candidate on many factors not just race. While there are some voters whom might be racist just as there are undoubtedly a serial killer or two that vote, the American electorate cannot be considered to be racist or serial killers.
    It is because Obama has a history of paying close attention to his own race and not others, that the electorate will want to examine this record.
    This would still be true if he were white promoting white interests.

  14. rjschwarz Says:

    What I find interesting is the semi-assumption from some that Blacks vote for Obama because he’s black. I think it’s possible they think Hillary is as vile and opportunistic as the rest of us think and his skin color is a secondary consideration.

  15. quiller Says:

    Expect the Dems’ super-delegate system to kick in at the convention, giving Obama JUST enough of a respectable showing (without nominating him) to hold black voters in line for the November showdown.

  16. wterrell Says:

    Yes, Susan Estrich is a friend of the Clintons and part of Hillary’s campaign. Why isn’t this article just another-albeit more subtle-hit job on Obama of the “he took drugs, didn’t he?” variety. Except this time he’s black and therefore the “bad” American public won’t vote for him. Criminey.

  17. Marty Says:

    If Osama is their candidate, there is no question that any opposition to him will be said to be racist. Why else would evil Republicans not want an tall black man to be president?
    The beauty of the dem race for the nomination is that Hillary is such a sleaze that, when threatened, she’ll dig up and use dirt on Osama that no Republican would ever allow to see the light of day.
    A cornered Hillary is America’s best friend. And, if she does drop out and accepts, for example, the VP slot on Osama’s ticket, he better keep a good eye out for the guys who did Vince Foster.

  18. wterrell Says:

    Yes, Susan Estrich is a friend of the Clintons and part of Hillary’s campaign. Why isn’t this article just another-albeit more subtle-hit job on Obama of the “he took drugs, didn’t he?” variety. Except this time he’s black and therefore the “bad” American public won’t vote for him.

  19. Papertiger Says:

    black men gained the vote first, I think it was eighty years or so earlier then the women’s sufferage. A black man was elected to the Senate in 1870 (a republican naturally).
    So how does it follow that a black man nominated by the democrats would be more risky then a woman?

    Since the democrats have taken such pains to set up primary voting rules that allow them to pick the GOP candidate along with their own, it seems only fair that we get to monkey with their primary. Now if only we could find a black democratic supply sider who believes in a literal interpretation of all things constitutional. Wouldn’t that be fun?

  20. Ed Minchau Says:

    “she is saying that because he is black, and Louisiana has a large amount of black voters, his win doesn’t mean as much”

    What state is David Duke from?

  21. Ken Hahn Says:

    Both Democrats and Republicans lie to pollsters. Democrats because they don’t want to be perceived as racists, Republicans because they hate pollsters. Overstating Obama’s support is a result.

    Democrats seem to be hung up on race more than Republicans.

  22. Blinders Says:

    But Blacks DO vote almost entirely along racial lines when given a black candidate, or a pro-redistributionist white candidate in the absense of one. It’s a fact, and yes it’s racist. Dems have previously endorsed this race-vote for what it is, turned a blind eye and taken it for granted for the last 40 years, because generally black candidates are Dems and it helps their numbers vs Republicans. But now it’s potentially backfiring on the Dem establishment in a big way, i.e. Billary. They should have seen this coming, and yet still handled it all very foolishly. They didn’t create the racial divide in the party, but they did selfishly encourage it. Now, they put the national spotlight on it unwittingly, upset that after pandering to the black community for so many years, it would now appear to have abandonned her, en-masse, with the appearance of a strong black Presidential candidate.

    It’s generally whites who will vote for a qualified candidate of another race, and many have voted, and will vote, for Obama. Some call it white guilt but it is more than that. I personally know conservatives who say they will vote for Obama in the general election, just to make the statement once and for all that it’s an equal opportunity nation when it comes to race….a black man can indeed become President, (via white votes), which will take race-baiters like Jesse Jackson into speedy irrelevancy. That’s not white guilt at work, that’s an endorsement of an equality ideal. I don’t think the Dem establishment, Billary, understood this at all.

  23. Jason Papanikolas Says:

    I mentioned this a couple of days at my blog: http://lonemdconservative.wordpress.com/2008/02/07/a-problem-for-democrats-could-signal-gop-opportunity/

    The racial voting blocs of the Democratic Party have broken along some interesting lines, but I do truly think there might be an opportunity here in November.

  24. Dennis Says:

    “If Osama is their candidate, there is no question that any opposition to him will be said to be racist. Why else would evil Republicans not want an tall black man to be president?”

    What you say is probably true. However, one could counter that Republicans vote for Republicans, not Democrats – we wouldn’t care if he were chartreuse, Obama doesn’t get our vote.

    But, it would be the moderate middle – you know, the reasonable guys who are tired of all the hate – that will pull the lever for McCain instead of Obama.

  25. Sean Braisted Says:

    A.C. Kleinheider reminds Sean that it is a Democratic position

    Bob, I said that was the position of the Southern Democratic party of the 50s and 60s, not the one I belong to (or want to belong to) today.

  26. bob Says:

    Sean, Lester Maddox was the Governor of Georgia in the 70s. I know that’s still a few years ago, but the point is that racial politics didn’t die in the Democratic Party with the stroke of LBJ’s pen in 1964.

  27. johnbrown Says:

    This being the 199th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, let us recall a few things:

    1. The Republican Party, led by Mr. Lincoln, pushed the 13th Amendment into law, freeing all slaves in the U.S.

    2. Following Lincoln’s death, the Republican Party, led by Thaddeus Stevens, Benjamin Wade, and other anti-slavery Republicans, pushed the 14th and 15th Amendments into law, guaranteeing the ex-slaves equal protection under the law and giving African-American men the right to vote. This party also passed several civil rights laws guaranteeing African-Americans rights to equal access to schools, trains, and other public facilities. This party also sent the U.S. Army to suppress the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups.

    3. Numerous African-Americans went to Congress after the civil war, all of them as Republicans.

    4. In the 1890’s, radical Democrats imposed “Jim Crow” regimes on the states of the former Confederacy, segregating whites and blacks in all public venues and disenfranchising African-American voters. This effectively destroyed the Republican Party in the South, since blacks were the “base” of the GOP, and they could no longer vote. “Jim Crow” was not a bipartisan program; it was designed to destroy the “Party of Lincoln” and all that the GOP had done during Reconstruction.

    5. African-Americans in the north could still vote, and continued to vote Republican for many years; e.g. Herbert Hoover in 1928 received more than 80% of the African-American vote.

    6. The Jim Crow regimes in the South, composed entirely of white democrats, were finally overthrown in the 1950’s and 1960’s by a combination of Northern and Western Democrats, with some support from Northern and western Republicans (there weren’t any southern republicans to speak of until the late 1960’s).

    The great achievement of the Democratic Party in the second half of the 20th century was to dismantle the Jim Crow laws. However, it was the same Democratic Party that made these laws in the first place!

    Given the history of the Party, I think it’s fair to say that many of its members tend to think in racial terms.

    That’s it. Happy Birthday, Abe!

  28. Neocon Don Says:

    Is the discrepancy betwn exit polling and tallys really racist? Or are voters just giving the politcally correct answer when accosted by pollers of the usual fanatic/young variety to avoid a hissy fit? Deviance from the popular crowd is never accepted by the political equivalent of junior high.

    Besides, why are Dems so surprised by all this since they propogate the noxious division of people into their victim hood identity groups. It is a central plank of the party.

    Nor is this “racism” really limited to the poor hicks in the party. The bigotry of soft expectations of the elites is dominant and appalling. The elites refusal to even address the fundamental flaws in most of the donk’s policies that have kept millions subservient in the ghettoes evidences the continued racism of this party. Where would the vanguard class be without a permanent population of serfs? After all, the Dems fought for slavery in the Civil War and opposed Reconstruction with its Jim Crow Laws and KKK until a prepoderance of Republicans enacted civil rights legislation in the 60s.

    Who cares what the orientation, gender and race of the most liberal senator in America is? What real experience, tried character, and depth of substance does he offer? Since the answer is zilch to all of this please stop with the meme that Americans wont vote for him b/c they are racist.

  29. Amans Patriae Says:

    Incidentally, today is the 199th birthday of Charles Darwin, as well as of Abe Lincoln. Given the Progressives’ rigidly enforced political correctness, coupled with their demands that “science” should dictate political policy, isn’t it insensitive to recall the complete title of Darwin’s 1859 masterwork: “The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”?

  30. paul a'barge Says:

    The greatest source of schadenfreude in this is the deep seated racism against blacks held by Hispanic DHIMMIcRATs. It’s endemic, it’s wide spread and it’s particularly virulent.

    These folks (Hispanic DHIMMIcRATs and black DHIMMIcRATs) see themselves as fundamental social competitors. On every level, from economic (competition for low wage jobs) to affirmative action benefits.

    Watch the fracture folks. It’s historic and it’s the central narrative that is going to come out of all this. Watch it all the way through the DHIMMIcRAT convention to the ultimate election.