The Democrats have an issue on their hands when it comes to the credibility of whichever candidate is nominated. The subject of race is not one that is often discussed within the party, not even when attempting to win votes.
As we well know, this is largely because minorities have little play in special interest money given to both parties. Furthermore, this is due to the Democrats’ move to the “center” on issues in an attempt to placate these interests in order to win votes.
However, this is a strategy of defeat, as the 2000 election proved.
It may be that I’m presumptuous to mention race at all (I’m whiter than white).
But the Democrats’ strategy towards race is so inept that it’s impossible even for ‘white folk’ to miss.
An excellent piece in The New York Times Magazine this week tells us this, as Joann Wypijewski’s article “Black and bruised” describes in detail voter apathy amongst potential black voters in impoverished districts in South Carolina.
These districts have seen no improvement under the stewardship of white, moderate Democratic governors and senators, allowing ultra-conservative Republicans back into power due to low voter turnout on the Democratic side. It is a dilemma that the Democratic party must address definitively if they are to beat George W. Bush in November.
The problem is the disgusting, ever-increasing conservatism of the Democrats. The no-energy John Kerry is described as an electable candidate capable of beating Bush, largely because of his national security “credentials” and his ability to vote Republican when the time comes, attracting the “middle” voters.
But this is exactly the same strategy which hurt Al Gore in 2000. Moderate voters almost always vote Republican when they see Democrats attempt to challenge Republicans on their own turf (i.e.: the war, taxes, welfare “reform,” corrections, etc.). Why bother voting for conservative Democrats when you have the real thing?
Furthermore, this strategy further alienates the left base of the party (the traitors like myself that voted for Ralph Nader) and serves to anger people in minority communities who have been decimated by the economy, the wasteful “war on terror” (with a disproportionate percentage of enlisted minorities and poor whites) and a largely racist law-and-order establishment.
It’s easy to pay lip service to presidential candidates who address race issues in campaigns, but don’t expect any of the Democratic frontrunners to institute serious change.
John Kerry, a member of the social register, knows nothing of the concerns of minorities. The system he has benefitted from allows rampant discrimination to continue and his bragging about welfare reform rubs the wound in deeper.
Howard Dean, on the other hand, may mean well, but what kind of experience does a Vermonter have in dealing with race (an issue on which Al Sharpton exposed his weakness on during a televised debate)?
Between John Edwards and Wesley Clark, two Southerners who might have experience with such things, there is a history of little progress towards breaking down the racial divide (I doubt anyone knows how Clark really feels anyway).
Outside of Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich, two candidates that the mainstream media have trashed for being too far left, none of the candidates have any ideas to end the economic disparities which fuel racism and discrimination to begin with.
This gaping hole within the Democratic agenda, along with many other gaps of credibility, pose serious threats to Democratic hopes for later this year.
It is not a problem that President George W. Bush will have, however, as the Republican party is a well-oiled machine with excellent grassroots organization and party bureaucracy.
Furthermore, Bush’s policies preach to his choir of wealthy executives, conservative evangelical Christians and other white men who love a manly show of strength at the presidential pulpit.
Thus, the party will get these people to show up in droves come November.
The Democratic “identity crisis” of attempting to appeal to right-wingers will be shot down in an instant by the Republicans. With minorities being increasingly disgusted by the Republican economics of both parties, they simply will not show up to vote (again).
Can the Democratic brain trust change this corporate strategy come November?
Doubtful. And thus those Democrats who really care for those in the underclass who desperately need change will be shut out yet again.
It is a recipe for failure for the Democrats, no thanks to themselves.