Ain’t Your Father’s Southern Strategy: Whiteness as Mass Appeal

Ain’t Your Father’s Southern Strategy: Whiteness as Mass Appeal

Dr. David J. Leonard

The 2012 election, like every election before it, has been defined by race. This is America, and race always matters. Death, taxes, and race. While 2008-2012 has prompted more explicit racial assault on then candidate and ultimately President Obama, race, racism, and white supremacy defines the history of American politics. Sister Souljah, Willie Horton, anti-Muslim appeals, demonization of undocumented immigrants, “the welfare queen,” the southern strategy, and countless other examples point to the ways that race defines American political campaigns. And these are just examples since the late 1960s from national presidential campaigns.

Yet the vitriol, the explicit racial appeals, and the ubiquitous racial rhetoric has been a noteworthy outcome of the 2012 election. Adele M. Stan, in “Romney Pushed Boundaries of ‘Acceptable Racism’ to Extremes” aptly describes the campaign as a long and winding campaign of racism, one that irrespective of the outcome has had its consequences:

If asked what one thing about the 2012 campaign most impacted everyday American life, one answer stands out above all others: racism. The wink-wink racial coding Romney uses, combined with the unabashed racism of such surrogates as former Bush administration chief of staff John Sununu, adds up to quite a wash of race-baited waters over the campaign. Then add to that the steady stream of racist rhetoric that characterized the Republican presidential primary campaign, and the wash looks more like a stew set on simmer for the better part of a year.

Since the early months of 2011, our politics have been marinating in the language of racial hatred, whether in former U.S. senator Rick Santorum’s “blah people” moment, or former House speaker Newt Gingrich’s tarring of Barack Obama as “the food stamp president.”

The consequences and context of a campaign based in racism, based in a thirty-year racial assault on the civil rights movement is fully visible in AP’s recent poll, which found that both explicit and implicit racial bias against African Americans and Latinos is on the rise. According to the AP, “51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes,” which was a 3 percent rise since 2008. When examining implicit bias, “the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56 percent, up from 49 percent during the last presidential election.” Should we be surprised?

The likes of John Sununu and Donald Trump, the sight of racist t-shirts and posters at GOP rallies and elsewhere, and the explicitly racist discourse point to the strategy of racist appeals and the consequences of such appeals. The impact of racism isn’t simply voters picking Mitt Romney because of their anti-black racism, or even the ways that the accusations against President Obama as a “food stamp president,” as “lazy” as a “socialist” and as “anti-White” resonate because of an entrenched white racial frame, but in the yearning and appeal of a white male leader. Race doesn’t just matter in why whites are voting against President Obama but also why they are voting for Mitt Romney. Tom Scocca, in “Why Do White People Think Mitt Romney Should Be President?” argues that anti-black racism, dog “whistles” and prejudice isn’t the only reason why white males are casting their vote for Romney-Ryan but because they are white and because white masculinity is associated with toughness, leadership, intelligence, and countless other racial stereotypes. “White people — white men in particular — are for Mitt Romney. White men are supporting Mitt Romney to the exclusion of logic or common sense. Without this narrow, tribal appeal, Romney’s candidacy would simply not be viable. Most kinds of Americans see no reason to vote for him.”

Continue reading @ Dr. David J. Leonard: Ain’t Your Father’s Southern Strategy: Whiteness as Mass Appeal.

NewBlackMan in Exile: Freeloading Muppets: Mitt, the Conservative Right and its Assault on Sesame Street

Freeloading Muppets:

Mitt, the Conservative Right and its assault on Sesame Street

by David J. Leonard

| NewBlackMan in Exile

During last night’s presidential debate, which was lackluster to say the least, Mitt Romney finally unveiled some specifics as it relates to his slash the deficit, taxes, and spending economic plan – the “no reason to hope, the future will be grim” plan. He announced his desire to defund PBS, which according to Neil deGrasse Tyson, accounts for .012% of the federal budget. His war on Muppets prompted a deluge of social media posts ranging from images of an unemployed Big Bird to an angry Elmo seeking revenge.

While reflecting people’s anger and anxiety about the nature of the political process, his oft-handed remark is revealing. At one level, it demonstrates the Republican Party’s opposition to public support for institutions and organizations that advance a social good. It represents their contempt for the social contract. At another level, it embodies an ideological movement that promotes divestment from public education, health care, and countless other social programs. The recasting of Cookie Monster, Grover, and Snuffy as freeloading welfare recipients constitutes a continuation of the GOP’s structural adjustment program that started some thirty years ago. Whether or not Mitt Romney like’s Big Bird, or public teachers, firefighters, or health care workers is irrelevant.

The gutting of public higher education throughout the nation, the destruction of America’s parks and recreation facilities, and now the proposed foreclosure on Sesame Street is part of a larger movement to divested from public support and institutions, that which is utilized by the middle-class, working-class and America’s poor. It is yet another example of the true essence of the GOP AKA POP – Privatization Old Party.

Continue reading @ NewBlackMan in Exile: Freeloading Muppets: Mitt, the Conservative Right and its Assault on Sesame Street.

Dreams Deferred, Humanity Denied: The War on Women of Color (Part 2) | The Feminist Wire

Dreams Deferred, Humanity Denied: The War on Women of Color (Part 2)

April 21, 2012

By David J. Leonard


The vicious attacks on women of color are not unique to the health care system. This has been evident within the recent debate that followed Hilary Rosen’s comments about Ann Romney, stay-at-home moms, and work. Whereas the GOP has framed Rosen’s statements as part of the Democratic Party/secular Left’s contempt for the family—all straight from the Right’s historic demonization of feminism—it is the policies of the Republican Party that have continually damaged women, and particularly women of color, as mothers. Whether eliminating subsidies for childcare, requiring that women receiving welfare get a job to learn “the dignity of work,” and/or enacting policies that constrain or eliminate salaries, the choices available to women of color have long been overdetermined by the realities of racism and sexism. As noted by Laura Flanders,

For all the shameful sucking up to multimillionaire mom Ann Romney after Democratic pundit Hilary Rosen accused her of never having worked “a day in her life,” the reality is neither Republicans nor Democrats treat most parenting as work, and thousands of poor women are living in poverty today as living proof of that fact.

Do we need to state the obvious? Women of different classes are beaten with different rhetorical bats. For the college-educated and upwardly aspiring, there’s the “danger” of career ambitions. Ever since women started aspiring to have men’s jobs, backlashers have told those women that they’re enjoying their careers at the expense of their kids’ well being. They really can’t have it all. They’ll raise monsters, or worse, they’ll grow old on the shelf.… The media still love stories about stay-at-home moms and professional women are still punished for wanting to succeed. For the poor, though, it’s very different.

Poor women, particularly poor women of color, are simultaneously denied the “choice” of whether to work or stay-at-home (why aren’t men asked to choose?) and demonized as bad parents. The war on mommies is not a universal war, as evidenced by the Moynihan Report AND Gov. Mitt Romney requiring that mothers on welfare with children under the age of 2 go to work in an effort to teach them “the dignity of work.”

With the discourse on health care, working mothers, education, and criminal justice, we see the ways in which race and gender (nation, class, and sexuality) directly impact people’s lives, whose life matters and whose future is worthy of public concern and policy. To deny health care is yet another instance where women of color are stripped of humanity, denied rights as citizens and people. It is part of a larger history whereupon women of color have been subject to the violence of the state, stereotypes, and structures of inequality. “It’s just a long history of negative stereotypes of black women that have changed over time to suit the political circumstances, but that focus on our irresponsible childrearing and mothering,” noted Dorothy Roberts within a Colorlines piece “The thread that joins them is the idea of total sexual immorality and irresponsible reproductive responsibility on the part of black women, who become a burden on the state and also have no maternal bond with their own children.”

The violent disregard for Anna Brown’s life, and the benign neglect approach to health and welfare of women of color is clear with the history of forced sterilization faced by Native American and Puerto Rican women;

it is clear with the systemic incarceration of black and Latina women; it is clear with the stereotype of the Jezebel, the pregnant crack addict, and the “welfare queen”; the war on women of color is nothing new is evident with Kelley Williams-Bolar, Tanya McDowell, Raquel Nelson and countless more women of color whose rights and humanity have been stripped before a silent nation. The silence is telling as to whos

continue reading @ Dreams Deferred, Humanity Denied: The War on Women of Color (Part 2) | The Feminist Wire.

NewBlackMan: Whistling Dixie (the remix): The Southern Strategy in the Age of Color-Blind Racism

Whistling Dixie (the remix):

The Southern Strategy in the Age of Color-Blind Racism

by David J. Leonard | NewBlackMan

In recent weeks, with the GOP establishment coming to the aid of Mitt Romney and because of Newt Ginrich’s efforts to sell himself as an outsider, an increasingly visible narrative has emerged: as the anti-GOP establishment. Given Newt’s racial politics and his entire campaign strategy, it is hard to think of Newt as anything but the GOP establishment.

At the same time, there has been a growing sentiment about the hegemony of colorblind racism within the GOP. “Colorblind racism is the new normal in American conservative political thought,” writes Edward Wyckoff Williams. The “2012 Republican candidates are using egregious signals and dog whistles to incite racial divisiveness as an effective tool for political gain. But when confronted about the nature of their offensive rhetoric, the answer is either an innocuous denial or dismissive retort.” The codes or dog whistle politics are not new, nor is the denial. While the audacity of race denial may be on the rise, the clarity of the GOP’s race politics have been on full display. No secret decoder is necessary especially as we look at the larger history of race and the GOP.

Like so many of his fellow competitors, Newt’s racial demagoguery, his demonization of people of color, and his efforts to scapegoat have been a daily reality during the 2011-2012 GOP presidential primary. This is nothing new from Newt, who has made his career on the demonization of “welfare moms,” “illegals” and a “food stamp president.” In 2007, Newt took exception with bilingual education, announcing: “We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto.”

This has continued during the current election cycle with his recycling of the Moynihan report and his policy initiatives focusing on teaching black kids a work ethic. The language, the policies, and the centrality of race illustrate the profound ways that Newt Gingrich is the GOP establishment. As the voice box for the racial ideologies and the torchbearer for the GOP’s southern strategy (demonizing people of color in hopes of galvanizing white voters to support a party that doesn’t represent their economic interests), Newt’s denied GOP credentials is almost laughable.

This is the party of Nixon, whose southern strategy sought to scapegoat African Americans. This is the same man, who talked about “Negro bastards” who “live like a bunch of dogs” on welfare rolls. This is the GOP that was led by Richard Nixon, who one said:

Bill Rogers has got — to his credit it’s a decent feeling — but somewhat sort of a blind spot on the black thing because he’s been in New York,” Nixon said. “He says well, ‘They are coming along, and that after all they are going to strengthen our country in the end because they are strong physically and some of them are smart.’ So forth and so on.

My own view is I think he’s right if you’re talking in terms of 500 years,” he said. “I think it’s wrong if you’re talking in terms of 50 years. What has to happen is they have be, frankly, inbred. And, you just, that’s the only thing that’s going to do it, Rose.

This is the party of Reagan, who described outrage from working Americans over the sight of a “strapping young buck using food stamps to buy T-bone steaks at the grocery store.” When not demonizing black men, he spoke about “welfare queens” in Chicago, “who drove a Cadillac and had ripped off $150,000 from the government using 80 aliases, 30 addresses, a dozen social security cards and four fictional dead husband.” This is the same Reagan, who started his presidential campaign in 1980 in Philadelphia, Mississippi with an “ode to state’s rights,” a theme that continued with his defense of segregationist Bob Jones University and his denunciation of the voting right act as “humiliating to the South.” As the patriarch of the party, it is no wonder that racist rhetoric and appeals are central to the 2012 campaign.

Continue reading @NewBlackMan: Whistling Dixie (the remix): The Southern Strategy in the Age of Color-Blind Racism.

CODE BLAH: Racism in Republican Politics | Racialicious – the intersection of race and pop culture

CODE BLAH: Racism in Republican Politics

By Guest Contributors

James Braxton Peterson and David J. Leonard

Some days it seems as if the GOP candidates are competing to be the governor of Alabama, circa 1960, rather than running to be President of the United States in 2013. Since the republican process to elect a nominee commenced, we have been treated to an endless string of racially awkward moments. Whether instances of ignorance or ignorant instances of institutionally racist ideology, too many of the republican Presidential candidates have re-revealed for us the colorblind fact that we are NOT post-race. In fact, judging from some of the candidate’s miscues and the underhanded pandering directly to the racial Right, we might actually be Pre-Race.

During a campaign stop in Sioux City, Iowa, Rick Santorum, responded to a familiar question about government spending with a longwinded diatribe that ultimately led him back to the GOP’s sweet spot: demonizing (and tacitly racializing) the social safety net. Focusing on the size of government and spending, Santorum stated:

It just keeps expanding—I was in Indianola a few months ago and I was talking to someone who works in the department of public welfare here, and she told me that the state of Iowa is going to get fined if they don’t sign up more people under the Medicaid program. They’re just pushing harder and harder to get more and more of you dependent upon them so they can get your vote. That’s what the bottom line is.

But this was not the “bottom line.” Santorum went on to ‘clarify’ the links between government spending and race, rehashing the accepted argument of the right that the federal government, especially under President Obama, is dedicated to taking money from hardworking white Americans and giving it to lazy and nonworking African Americans. He argued, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money. And provide for themselves and their families. The best way to do that is to get the manufacturing sector of the economy rolling again.”

Santorum’s seamless transition from government spending to blacks on welfare is a non sequitur; it is indicative of the power of a white racial framework that consistently imagines African Americans as welfare queens and unproductive parasites on/in society. These stereotypes of African Americans stand in juxtaposition to the vision of middle and working class white folk as the racial model of hard work, virtue and dedication. While only 9% of African Americans in Iowa are on food stamps (nationally, 39% of welfare recipients are white, whereas 37% and 17% are black and Latino), Santorum’s comments resonate with the GOP’s vision of race and policy. His comments complemented Newt Gingrich’s recent lamentation of the deficient work ethic of black youth, his recycling of the culture of poverty/Moynihan Report, and his constant references to President Obama as a “food stamp president.”

Not surprisingly, Santorum and his fellow candidates have denied the racial implications here. Arguing that he did not actually say “black,” that some of “his best friends are black,” and that he was merely giving voice to the issues raised in Waiting for Superman, Santorum his been dealing the race-denial card from the top, bottom, and middle of the deck.

Despite the denials, the comments fit a larger worldview seemingly shared by Santorum and the entire field. Earlier in his campaign, Santorum argued that President Obama, as a black man, should understand the dangers of the government deciding who is and isn’t a person. “The question is — and this is what Barack Obama didn’t want to answer — is that human life a person under the Constitution? And Barack Obama says ‘no,’” Santorum argued during a television interview. “Well if that person — human life is not a person — then I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say, ‘we’re going to decide who are people and who are not people.’” This effort to invoke race and to analogically integrate his pro-life agenda with anti-black racism isn’t just a campaign strategy.

Continue reading @ CODE BLAH: Racism in Republican Politics | Racialicious – the intersection of race and pop culture.