The fundamental partisan divide in America?

So, I was on a radio show in Canada this morning and a super-authoritarian Trump supporter called in and among other aspects of his rant, referred to the “monkey in the White House.”  Yowza.  Then again, cannot say I was that surprised from a Trump supporter.  It did, though, get me thinking about race and American political parties.  Now, I’ve done plenty of posts that show the huge divide between the parties on issues of race and white ethnocentrism, and the huge animating feature of race in the Tea Party especially, but obviously, the divide is more than that.  I started thinking maybe it is just the “tolerance/acceptance of ‘others'” divide, or that Democrats are much more inclusive in who they are willing to define as us.  Either way, there’s something going on here.

How nice then, just a few hours after having these thoughts to come across this new piece from Peter Beinart that essentially argues we have an “anti-bigotry” divide.  In this case, Beinart argues that it positions Democrats especially well for the 2016 election, but here’s the basic point:

Republican leaders may not be bigots. But they often tolerate bigotry

It was not inevitable that anti-bigotry would become a partisan dividing line. In 1964, a majority of both House Democrats and House Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act. (Republicans by a slightly higher margin.) In the mid-1990s, leading Democrats and Republicans both opposed gay marriage. In 2000, George W. Bush spoke out against the fact that Arab Americans were being “racially profiled.” As recently as 2008, neither John McCain nor Barack Obama demonized Mexican immigrants…

What’s changed? The divergence began when Democratic presidents signed civil-rights legislation in the 1960s and Republicans responded by taking the white South. As a result, African Americans became a key Democratic voting bloc while the GOP remained overwhelmingly white. There’s some evidence that, in the years prior to Obama’s election, this racial polarization was easing, with younger African Americans showing less loyalty to the Democratic Party and Bill Clinton winning a significant chunk of the white South. But as UCLA political scientists Michael Tesler and David O. Sears have documented, Obama’s election supercharged the party’s racial identities. Since 2004, Americans who exhibit higher levels of “racial resentment” have moved toward the GOP and those who exhibit lower levels have moved toward the Democrats.

This heightened partisan polarization around race has served as a template for the way the two parties respond to Muslims and Mexican Americans. Just as Democrats are more likely than Republicans to consider anti-black racism a problem, they’re also more likely to worry about bigotry against Muslims. Republicans, by contrast, are more likely to dismiss the grievances of both groups as “political correctness.”

The Obama polarization has also shaped the way the parties have responded to Latino immigration. Since the 1990s, political scientists have observed that hostility to African Americans correlates with hostility toward immigrants. And as Mexican immigration has become a bigger political issue, views of Latino immigrants have divided the two parties in the roughly the same way that views of African Americans do. The Democratic Party, which once had a robust anti-immigration wing, is now so dependent on Latino votes that Hillary Clinton in March pledged to halt virtually all deportations of undocumented immigrants. Trump, by contrast, has called Mexican immigrants “rapists,” thus transposing hoary white fears of black sexual violence onto Latinos.

Never before in modern American history have the political parties been as polarized along racial lines as they are right now. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee responded to Black Lives Matter protesters by changing her platform to accommodate them. The presumptive Republican nominee responded to Black Lives Matter protesters by congratulating his supporters forassaulting them. This level of polarization may be dangerous for the country. But it means that, as Trump leaves the GOP cocoon and begins foraging for Democratic votes, he will face a dramatically more hostile environment. Obama helped create today’s Republican Party, a party open to Trump’s bigoted appeals. But Obama has also helped create today’s Democratic Party, a party more deeply anti-racist than any in American history.

Today’s Democratic Party is built on mobilizing African Americans, Latinos, and those white Americans who identify with their political views. It’s built on leveraging voters who consider bigotry a powerful, living force in American life. It’s a flawed party in many ways. But, thankfully, it’s a party built to defeat Donald Trump.

It’s a real shame that this has become a dividing line in American politics, but it seems a pretty inescapable conclusion that it is where we are.  Longer term, one of the important questions is to what degree those who are anti-bigotry yet with economically-minded conservative views (an eminently defensible position, of course) are willing to win on the back of increasingly transparent racial appeals.  Actually, shorter term, too, because they now have an important decision to make about Trump.

Advertisements

Photo of the day

From Josh Hydeman’s Instagram:

A way out on HB2?

The N&O suggests that being sued by the US DOJ offers McCrory an out:

Now it’s official. The state of North Carolina and its governor are breaking the law.

The U.S. Justice Department delivered that verdict Wednesday in a letter to Gov Pat McCrory regarding the legality of House Bill 2, the anti-LGBT law that includes a measure preventing transgender people from using public facilities that align with their gender identity.

In the letter, Valita Gupta, principal deputy assistant attorney general, told the governor, “The Department of Justice has determined that, as a result of compliance with and implementation of NC House Bill2, both you and the state of NC are in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

That determination means millions of dollars, perhaps billions of dollars, in federal funding to North Carolina may be suspended unless the state repeals or significantly amends HB2. McCrory has until Monday to say whether the state will comply or defy…

McCrory, who is up for re-election and sinking in the polls because of the damage from HB2, should be and likely is alarmed by the federal demand. He thought HB2 would stir his Republican base and put his Democratic opponent, Attorney General Roy Cooper, in the uncomfortable position of defending “men in women’s rooms.” But the ploy backfired, and he’s now desperate for a way out of it.

The U.S. Justice Department offers McCrory an exit. He should take it. He should say that the law is not worth the damage it has done to North Carolina’s reputation and economy and that it’s certainly not worth losing what some estimate could be $4.5 billion in federal funding.

Alas, McCrory is not driving the NC Republican bus on this or anything else:

ut North Carolina’s response ultimately will not be up to the governor. Berger is the adamant force behind this law. He has no concerns about being re-elected. And he politically seceded from the U.S. government once Barack Obama became the head of it. Berger apparently welcomes a battle over states rights and discrimination. He said in a statement, “This is a gross overreach by the Obama Justice Department that deserves to be struck down in federal court.”

My wife asked me yesterday what happened in Indiana and other states when similar laws were passed.  I got to inform her that our Republicans are uniquely intransigent as those states’ Republicans backed down once they saw the real costs in lost business, etc.  Yay, NC.

%d bloggers like this: