Are Tea Partiers racists?

A protester attending a 2010 Tea Party rally at the Minnesota State Capitol.

Photo by Fibonacci Blue
A protester attending a 2010 Tea Party rally at the Minnesota State Capitol.

U.S. politics is haunted by race. The possibility that racial prejudice is — or might be — operating on our political thinking never seems very far below the surface. So I was struck by Theda Skocpol’s Nov. 10 presentation at the U of M of her conclusions about the Tea Party in a soon-to-be-published book on the topic.

Skocpol said — based on extensive interviews with Tea Party members and attendance at Tea Party meetings — that Tea Partiers are generally not racists.

At the Skocpol presentation, by chance, I sat next to a newly-arrived U of M political scientist whose current research also investigates the impact of race bias in the thinking of Tea Party sympathizers.. Prof Howard Lavine told me that his research points to the possibility that Skocpol’s they’re-not-racists conclusion is an oversimplification.

Lavine found it utterly believable that the Tea Partiers do not consider themselves racially prejudiced and that those Skocpol interviewed could talk about their views without making racist statements. He also agrees with Skocpol’s they-are-not-racists statement insofar as he considers the term “racist” to be a an overbroad and useless term that does little other than inflame and cut off conversation.

On the other hand, Lavine said, Skocpol’s statement was too strong and ultimately unpersuasive.

“If you just say ‘they’re not racists,’ most people will think you mean that race has nothing to do with it. And that’s just not true.”

“There is consistent and strong evidence of a correlation between racial negativity and Tea Party identification,” Lavine said. “It’s a fairly strong correlation and it’s been demonstrated across a number of independent surveys” and other academic research projects, including Lavine’s current research.

Summarizing all of that research, Lavine said: “On average, people who identify with the Tea Party hold more negative racial beliefs than other Americans, including other conservatives.”

‘White backlash’
The Tea Party movement has become the gathering place for that portion of U.S. conservatism that, back in Nixon days, used to be described as “white backlash,” Lavine said.

Lavine’s recent research is cleverly designed, complicated and potentially controversial. It relies on surveys that did not ask directly about race, but explored racial attitudes via visual cues to survey respondents.

Lavine says you don’t find out about the role race may be playing in someone’s politics by waiting to hear explicitly racist statements. Not only do most people not talk openly about race-related motives, in many cases they are not aware of how their race-feelings affect their political thoughts and actions.

Lavine specializes in political psychology (in fact, he has taught both poly sci and psych courses). Political psychology tries to explore the unspoken and perhaps unconscious roots of political attitudes.

For example, in his current research (some of which was presented at last year’s conference of the Midwest Political Science Association and some of which is on its way to being presented at this year’s Midwest conference) Lavine and his colleagues designed an online survey and got responses from a sample of about 800 citizens, including many who expressed sympathy for the Tea Party and many who did not. The survey asked about programs designed to help people who can’t keep up with their mortgage payments stay in their homes.

(I would remind you that the event that in some sense sparked off the Tea Party movement was an outburst by CNBC correspondent Rick Santelli about the injustice of bailing out those who took out a mortgage to put an extra bathroom in their house and now can’t afford to pay their bills.)

In Lavine’s online survey, Tea Party sympathizers were more likely than non-Tea Partiers to say that the individual was to blame for the foreclosure problem (the personal responsibility theme) and to say that the government was to blame (the anti-government theme). Non-Tea Partiers were more likely to say that Wall Street was to blame.

Unsurprisingly, Tea Partiers were more likely to oppose a program to help the struggling mortgagees and to say that the idea of such a program made them angry. Presumably, there are no surprises in any of those results, given the ideology of the Tea Party movement. Race was not mentioned in any of the questions.

Two curves
But the online survey contained two curveballs.

At the beginning of the section on the mortgage assistance, a picture was included of a man, presumably a struggling homeowner, and a house with a foreclosure sign in the yard. Half of the sample saw a white man in the yard; half saw a black man. That’s curve No. 1.

 The second curve was the way the survey suggested those men came to be standing in their yards next to a foreclosure sign. Half the sample was told: “As we now know, many people took out large loans and mortgages during the housing bubble that they couldn’t afford and they are likely to lose their homes unless the government intercedes.”

The other half was told: “As we now know, the severe economic recession beginning in 2008 led many people to lose their jobs or face reduced hours. They are likely to lose their homes unless the government intercedes.” 

Howard Lavine, University of Minnesota
At the beginning of the section on the mortgage assistance in the online survey a picture was included of a man and a house with a foreclosure sign in the yard. Half of the sample saw a photo a white man in the yard; half saw a photo of a black man.

Howard Lavine, University of Minnesota

What did Lavine and his team find after throwing the two curves?

Among Tea Party respondents who heard the introductory sentence blaming the bad economy for the plight of the underwater mortgage debtors, Tea Party members and sympathizers did not respond differently to questions about the program based on the race of the homeowner in the picture they were shown. They generally didn’t like the programs, but they didn’t dislike them any more or less whether they saw a picture of a white or black homeowner.

But when the respondents heard the introductory sentence that suggested that the underwater homeowners had brought their problems upon themselves by borrowing more than they could afford, a significant disparity showed up based on the race of the picture.

Tea Party sympathizers who heard the “irresponsible behavior” explanation for the problem and who saw a picture of a black homeowner were significantly more likely to say that they blamed the homeowner for the problem, significantly more likely to say they opposed a government program to help that person with their mortgage problem and significantly more likely to say they were angry that such people might get assistance from such a program.

Among the TP sympathizers in the sample, the size of the differential in anger and opposition and blaming of the homeowners based on no factor other a difference in the skin color of the homeowner in the photo was statistically significant, Lavine said. Chances are that the respondents were unaware that they were reacting in any way to the picture. But they were.

On the anger scale (the respondents were asked to rate on a seven-point scale how angry they were that such people might get mortgage assistance) the Tea Partiers who saw a black homeowner in the picture were 15 percent angrier than those who saw a white homeowner. That’s a statistically significant difference.

Source: Howard Lavine
The question asked in the survey was: “On a scale of 1-7, how much are the individuals in danger of foreclosure to blame for their situation?” A response of 1 means the homeowner is not at all to blame. A response of 7 means the homeowner is almost entirely to blame. The two bars on the left reflect the “blame” score given by all respondents who identified with the Tea Party. The two bars on the right reflect responses from non-Tea Partiers. In each pair, the blue bar reflects the average “blame” score given by respondents who saw a picture of a black man at the beginning of the discussion of distressed homeowners. The red bar reflects the average score of those who saw a white man in the picture.

Deserving-vs.-undeserving
But it is curious that the gap is insignificant among the Tea Party sympathizers who were given the other description of the cause of the problem faced by defaulting homeowners — the version that suggested that the homeowners may have fallen behind on their payments because they were laid off in a bad economy.

Lavine said that political scientists have long explored this deserving-vs.-undeserving theme and its impact on attitudes toward government programs to help the poor. The research — including his survey experiment — has found that attitudes about the deserving and undeserving poor are entangled with racial stereotypes.

Look what happened in his experiment, he said. People were cued by the language to think about the program as one to bail out the undeserving, and they generally didn’t like the idea. But the subgroup that saw a black man’s picture was substantially angrier, more opposed to the assistance and more inclined to assign the blame for the problem to the homeowner himself.

After learning about Lavine’s research, I contacted Prof. Skocpol and told her about my follow-up piece. She confirmed that other surveys have also concluded that Tea Partiers are more likely than other conservatives to hold harsh stereotypes about minorities (although Tea Partiers also have relatively pessimistic views about people of all races).

But her book relied mostly on the interviews she and her co-author conducted, which she said gave the Tea Partiers a chance to explain their beliefs.

“Remember, right-wing media spends a lot of airtime suggesting that minorities got extra help in improper ways,” she wrote me.  “So it might be that sense about how a policy worked — based on slanted, inaccurate media coverage — rather than pure racial animus.”

She added: “’Racism’ is such a global and loaded word, and not appropriate to apply to an entire social protest effort, in my view, unless the evidence is massive and unequivocal, which it certainly is not for Tea Partiers.  I am not sure what is to be gained by going global in such characterizations.”

Comments (44)

  1. Submitted by Ross Williams on 12/08/2011 - 09:25 am.

    ““There is consistent and strong evidence of a correlation between racial negativity and Tea Party identification,” Lavine said. “It’s a fairly strong correlation and it’s been demonstrated across a number of independent surveys” and other academic research projects, including Lavine’s current research.”

    Would it surprise anyone to discover people who are racists are more likely to be T-partiers than they are to be liberal Democrats? I doubt it. But that is all that correlation tells us.

    To put it in perspective – are men more likely to be suicide bombers? Yes. Does this tell us much about men. Not really.

  2. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 12/08/2011 - 09:38 am.

    Eric, does the well established fact that leftists measure (insert any issue here) against the color of a persons skin mean they are all racist?

    Does does the well established fact that leftists rally to support the alternative sexual habits some people choose to engage in make them perverts?

    Does does the well established fact that leftists believe a persons gender is an acceptable criteria by which to choose a political candidate make them misandrists?

    Does does the well established fact that leftists believe that hoiking a living human fetus from a womb is perfectly acceptable make them misanthropes.

    Some people would answer “no” to all of the above, but I’ve been seated beside folks whose research points to the possibility that such a “they’re-not-really-epic-hypocrites” conclusion is an oversimplification.

  3. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 12/08/2011 - 09:41 am.

    Oh, and by the way; “Socialist” isn’t a race, and neither is “Kenyan”.

    I understand how that could get confused without a thoughtful pause.

  4. Submitted by Dale Hoogeveen on 12/08/2011 - 09:52 am.

    Can people unconsciously hold biased racially negative views and not even realize it, considering themselves to be racially colorblind?

    Of course they can. Even if they will not admit it publicly or even to themselves that is still racism, and that is evident in the Tea Party movement no matter how you look at it, whether admitted or not.

    It isn’t, however, the only unconscious motive being manipulated to produce Tea Party activity and not likely the most important or dramatic one either.

  5. Submitted by howard lavine on 12/08/2011 - 09:57 am.

    Hi William,
    The correlation holds when looking only at conservatives (i.e, those that identify with the TP and those that don’t).
    Howie

  6. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/08/2011 - 10:00 am.

    A couple of points:

    First, a technical one.
    The fact that (in this sample at least) TPers were 15 percent angrier may be -statistically- significant (almost anything can be if you make your sample large enough),
    but is it -socially- significant?
    TP membership is likely a very minor determinant of anger.

    Second, there are two different issues here:
    one is attitudes towards blacks in general;
    the other is attitude towards one black in particular.
    Parenthetically, it’s also interesting that we label someone with one (mostly) black parent as ‘black’.

  7. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 12/08/2011 - 10:01 am.

    There are the out and out klan-loving racists and we can all agree on that because those people will proudly proclaim their racist stance. But there is, I believe, a large population of what I would call hidden racists. Some hide their feelings just from others but some, I believe, hide those feelings from themselves. Unless I can’t believe my lying eyes, I have seen this often in my life. I hear a guy at work tell a racist joke and defend himself as not racist if I act the least bit offended. I have seen things like this too many times to count. About the only white people, myself included, that I believe on this topic are the ones who admit to ambivalence or some discomfort regarding the “otherness” of other “racial” groups.

    I think the terms are a little confusing. To me racism is a system of oppression. Also we are all part of the human race and not technically different races, but it is an accepted term that everyone understands. I think we are talking about bigotry and, as one person in the article calls it, animus toward others who are different from us. That is a two way street I think. Our history of slavery and oppression, including Jim Crow, which existed in my lifetime, make white animus a more important issue than black animus for whites.

    And now I expect to see our “conservative” posters to post here in order to deny and defend.

  8. Submitted by Michael Corcoran on 12/08/2011 - 10:22 am.

    Utter nonsense and this article from the Christian Science Monitor agrees:

    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Elections/Tea-Party-Tally/2011/1013/Tea-party-fuels-rise-of-Herman-Cain.-So-how-can-it-be-racist

    The left-wing loves to knee jerk into meme’s that make no sense – ‘Bush Lied’, etc This is the most recent example.

  9. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 12/08/2011 - 10:43 am.

    Mr. Swift’s “well established facts” are not actually well established facts, but I’m inclined to go with Skocpol in the final paragraph. “Racism” *is* a loaded term, I think, and while I also think the Tea Party provides a handy platform for those who *are* racists to play out their prejudices in the political arena, that doesn’t mean every Tea Partier – or even a majority of them – are necessarily “racists” in the usual sense of the term.

    There’s much to be said for the “deserved” versus “undeserved” line of thinking, which shows up frequently in the commentary from Mr. Swift and Mr. Tester. The result may apply to racial minorities more frequently or more heavily than commentary from other posters, and that’s not to say that they don’t have a bucketful of prejudices (against all sorts of people who aren’t just like them) but that doesn’t necessarily indicate racism, either overt or unconscious, on their part. This seems to me to be in line with Skocpol’s conclusion that Tea Partiers have relatively pessimistic views about people of all races.

    I think the headline for this piece is painting with too broad a brush, and is a form of guilt by association. There are surely Tea Partiers who’d make fine, upstanding members of the KKK, but I don’t believe that’s the norm for the group. They’re certainly angry, but their anger strikes me as more anti-government, and in terms of minorities, more along the “deserved” versus “undeserved” line. There’s more to it than this, of course, but I tend to think of Tea Partiers as, among other things, misanthropes.

  10. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 12/08/2011 - 10:50 am.

    TEA party stands for Taxed Enough Already. It seems to me that you don’t have to be white to favor a smaller, constitutional government, with less taxation, less regulation and more personal freedom.

    “Lavine specializes in political psychology (in fact, he has taught both poly sci and psych courses). Political psychology tries to explore the unspoken and perhaps unconscious roots of political attitudes.”

    Well here’s a political psychology factoid for you: those who first bring up the subject of race are most likely the actual racist in the conversation.

    I happen to know something about political psychology myself as well as being a non-white person. Which also begs the question – how does Lavine explain the non-white Tea Party member, of which there are many?

  11. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 12/08/2011 - 11:11 am.

    Swifty, please ask Santa for a dictionary. You desperately need one.

  12. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 12/08/2011 - 11:19 am.

    Paul, your comment about one black parent and the labeling of the children is interesting. One wonders why someone with one black and one white parent identifies as black until he realizes that not that long ago a person with one sixteenth or less “black blood” was considered black and not allowed to vote or marry “white” people or drink out of certain water fountains. The labeling started with “white” people and now the “black” people are wearing that badge with honor. Of course, that’s different than being “kenyan”

  13. Submitted by Jeremy Powers on 12/08/2011 - 11:42 am.

    I don’t think the Tea Party is racist, per se. It just attracts the same ignorant, misguided people that tend to be racist.

  14. Submitted by David Koorman on 12/08/2011 - 12:03 pm.

    Now wait…look again at those two pictures. The black man is standing in a less-attractive setting, wearing a brown jacket against a brown landscape, standing back from the camera and wearing an expressionless face. The white man is standing closer to the camera, before a lush green setting (and what looks like a nicer house). He is wearing a bright red shirt and appears to be engaging the writer/photographer/reader in a discussion.

    I do not mean to imply that there are no racial biases evident in the responses to these two pictures, but why are there other differences in these pictures that appear to favor the white man? I trust that the people who designed this study are not victims of their own biases. But they do appear guilty of some sloppiness in trying to prove their point. Wouldn’t it have been simple to put the white and black man in the same setting, same clothes and expressions, and eliminate these discrepancies?

  15. Submitted by Arvonne Fraser on 12/08/2011 - 12:40 pm.

    All the above comments are fascinating and I’d like to argue with some of them but don’t have time.

    Let me just say this confirms article what Heartland head, Tom Vellenga, says about how people vote: with their hearts and gut not so much with their minds.

    Also a Democratic/Obama researcher has found from focus groups that some people voted for Obama in 2008 and were just so mad about the bailouts and the economy that they voted Tea Party in 2010.

    Thanks, Eric, for a good piece. Stimulating discussion is always good.

  16. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/08/2011 - 01:07 pm.

    A ‘factoid’ is something like a fact, just as ‘humanoid’ is something like a human.

  17. Submitted by Lora Jones on 12/08/2011 - 01:09 pm.

    Like #15 Arvonne, I don’t have time to argue either . . . although I have observed that posts of “look over there . . . SQUIRREL!” as in Swift’s #2, seem to ndicate that a nerve has been hit . . . particulary when the person posting feels compelled to cite multiple, unsupported and hard-to-decipher “examples” of the squirrels we should be looking at instead.

  18. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/08/2011 - 01:09 pm.

    Bill–
    This sort of labeling isn’t universal.
    Brasil has a wide range of skin colors, which they don’t seem inclined to label.

  19. Submitted by David Greene on 12/08/2011 - 01:35 pm.

    After much work on racial equity issues, I’ve come to the conclusion that individual bigotry is not the important facet to tackle. It’s institutional racism.

    Racism is a power relationship. Whites have power over non-whites and maintain that power via racially inequitable policies and practices. If we want to solve the inequity problem we have to replace the policies and practices.

    I don’t particularly care if an individual is bigoted. I do care that we close the racial gap in our school achievement outcomes. I do care that we close the racial gap in employment. I do care that we being investing in neighborhoods that have significant non-white populations.

    And yes, we will need a cultural shift for that to happen but I think it is a lost cause to “fix” bigoted people. The best we can do is help them experience situations outside their comfort zone and hope they come to different conclusions over time. If not, eventually younger generations with more cultural experiences will replace them.

  20. Submitted by Cecil North on 12/08/2011 - 01:48 pm.

    @Tester #10 “Well here’s a political psychology factoid for you: those who first bring up the subject of race are most likely the actual racist in the conversation.”

    First, a nit: I think you mean “factlet” not “factoid,” unless you are (correctly) implying that your premise is counterfactual.

    In any event, I always get a laugh from this particular bromide of talk radio. Certainty, this would make MLK a racist, as he often talked about race, as well as A. Lincoln, who freed the slaves, and was known, on occasion, to mention the fact that slaves tended to be black. Anyway, it works very well with your concept that victims of bullying are to be admonished for having been bullied: down is up, and up is down. Yippee!

  21. Submitted by Gregory Lang on 12/08/2011 - 01:50 pm.

    Looking at the two right side pictures, the one with the black man was a brand-new house not yet completed or landscaped. (note sicker on window and pile of packing material on porch.) The bare ground indicates a new subdivision rather than a house in an urban empty lot.

    The house with the white guy is obviously older as evidenced by more mature vegetation.

    There are a lot of “wildcards” differences between the two houses.

  22. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 12/08/2011 - 01:53 pm.

    Looking at the attendant photo, sometimes the nicest thing one can say about another human being is to call that stranger a “racist”…but in the process be it one or many so labeled by using the racist spin, I have forfeited my own sensibilities and sensitivities; my own credibility by such a quick-and-dirty judgement call, by labeling someone I do not or may not care to “understand’.

    And in the simple labeling of one or others, am labeling myself in the process…yet it gives me a certain nefarious, personal satisfaction I suppose by distancing myself at what momentarily I want to simplify by calling him a bloody b*got…

    No two humans are identical and yet something draws individuals to join a group; maybe because it makes them feel reassured about their own opinions; or lack of same, and makes them feel the power of togetherness in the nodding syncopation of agreement embracing sameness all around… even if few have identical grievances or the capacity to understand. Even if that thinking process too often activates; leads into negative actions as the result of those ‘mutual agreements’.

    It happened in Germany among ‘good’, ‘god-fearing’ Germans. It happens daily in Israel against their neighbors; the Palestinians. ..and yes, happens in reverse also.

    Martin Buber the Jewish philosopher once said..”As in a mirror face to face, so is the heart of man to man”…Yesindeed, I need to remind myself, often.

  23. Submitted by Gregory Lang on 12/08/2011 - 02:07 pm.

    Another point. The black man appears to be wearing a “Carrhart type jacket”. He has a pair of gloves in one hand. Carrhart is common attire for those who work in construction. It would be easy to conclude that the black man was working on the house under construction.

    Yet another wildcard.

  24. Submitted by Rosalind Kohls on 12/08/2011 - 02:22 pm.

    I’m sure reseachers had already concluded before they started the study that tea partiers were racists. However, just in case the study was truly neutral, I would be interested in seeing research on whether the Occupy Wall Street participants and their sympathizers are anti-semitic.

  25. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 12/08/2011 - 02:49 pm.

    “After much work on racial equity issues …”

    And after all that “work” did you resolve anything or did you just get paid to “work on” those issues.

    “Racism is a power relationship. Whites have power over non-whites and maintain that power via racially inequitable policies and practices.”

    No it’s not. There are plenty of black people in power over white people. I went to a school in a predominantly black community where non-black people were in the minority. I’ve had black bosses. Was I the racist in those settings? Your white-centric view only sees half of the equation.

    Racism is a state of mind. It’s people who view things and make decisions through the lens of race. It’s people who assume that black kids can’t learn unless they’re sitting next to white kids. It’s people who assume that the black wide receiver is automatically faster and a better athlete than the white wide receiver. It’s people who defend an incompetent black leader because you fear that to criticize him would open you up to charges of racism.

    Racism is a trap set by and fallen into people who see us all as members of groups, possessing group traits and not as individuals. And that’s why the center of racism in this society is not with conservatives, who value individualism and see everyone as an individual, but with the collectivist-oriented Left.

  26. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 12/08/2011 - 03:09 pm.

    Lora, I see where you’re coming from but sometimes, especially where mocking leftist amphigory is concerned, Occam’s Razor applies.

  27. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 12/08/2011 - 03:23 pm.

    The picture at the top captures the fact-resistant and willfully misinformed nature of many of the Tea Partiers.

    Birther? C’mon get a grip on reality!

    And the guy, obviously, is at the the age of receiving Medicare and Social Security and supports a team that received tax-payers money for their stadium over the vocal resistance of tax-payers.

    Socialism, indeed!!

  28. Submitted by Matt Bowers on 12/08/2011 - 05:13 pm.

    Conservatives see everyone as an individual? Please–what nonsense. If that were true, we would not be treated to all the generalities about “the Left” and “liberals” that Mr. Tester and Mr. Swift toss out on almost a daily basis.

    As to the study about Tea Party folks–more nonsense. There is plenty of stupidity, hatred, and ignorance on all sides of the political spectrum. And that is a problem we all need to acknowledge and remedy.

  29. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/08/2011 - 05:20 pm.

    Dennis–
    And you don’t see the contradiction in your last paragraph?

  30. Submitted by David Greene on 12/08/2011 - 05:36 pm.

    ‘And after all that “work” did you resolve anything or did you just get paid to “work on” those issues.’

    Actually, yes I did, with the help of a lot of people. And I did not get paid. Purely volunteer work.

    ‘”Racism is a power relationship. Whites have power over non-whites and maintain that power via racially inequitable policies and practices.”

    No it’s not. There are plenty of black people in power over white people.’

    Not at a societal level. As I said, I’m not talking about individuals or individual relationships. But of course you will immediately label me a socialist.

    ‘Racism is a state of mind.’

    No it isn’t. You’re talking about bigotry. I’m talking about systemic forces in our society that work to oppress people, whether intended or not (mostly not, I believe).

    ‘It’s people who view things and make decisions through the lens of race.’

    We MUST view societal decisions through the lens of race. We’ve been doing so for hundreds of years. We can’t undo the damage without confronting it head-on. There’s no beating around the bush on this.

    ‘It’s people who assume that black kids can’t learn unless they’re sitting next to white kids.’

    Who said that? No one I know. All of the studies I’ve learned about say that ALL kids improve their educational achievement in integrated schools. Integration is for ALL of our kids, not to “save” the black kids.

    ‘It’s people who assume that the black wide receiver is automatically faster and a better athlete than the white wide receiver.’

    Again, that’s bigotry.

    ‘It’s people who defend an incompetent black leader because you fear that to criticize him would open you up to charges of racism.’

    I criticize Obama regularly and I don’t get charged as a “racist.”

    ‘Racism is a trap set by and fallen into people who see us all as members of groups, possessing group traits and not as individuals.’

    Again, you’re talking about bigotry and stereotyping. I’m talking about structures and societal norms that reinforce the status quo which we know from numerous studies is extremely racially inequitable.

    You need to be able to think in terms of systems and society. Individualism is important, but not the hyper-individualism you espouse. That is vanity, blasphemy and idol worship.

  31. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 12/08/2011 - 06:57 pm.

    @29 What are you talking about? There’s no contradiction. Identity politics is part and parcel of who the Left is. They talk about “voting blocks” like “the black vote,” the “hispanic vote,” etc., because the Left believes itself to be a coalition of groups all of whom don’t agree on much other than they hate the other side.

    You never hear conservatives talk about voting blocks because conservatives are defined as people who believe in the same things not people of the same color. We don’t care what color or gender you are. We only care about what you believe in and we don’t assume what all people of a given race or gender believe in because assuming that everyone of the same race should think the same way is an inherently racist idea.

    You never heard any republican refer to Herman Cain as “the black candidate.” He was judged on the basis of his experiences and ideas like any other candidate.

    Barack Obama was supported by many people on the left simply because he was black. That’s racist.

  32. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/08/2011 - 07:10 pm.

    Dennis–

    To quote:
    “And that’s why the center of racism in this society is not with conservatives, who value individualism and see everyone as an individual, but with the collectivist-oriented Left. ”

    These are characterizations of groups, not individuals.

  33. Submitted by Alec Timmerman on 12/08/2011 - 07:27 pm.

    Dennis, is there any evidence that people voted for Obama because he was black? I would say Alan Keyes and Herman Cain, for that matter, are great counter examples.

    Is it that hard for you to believe that people voted for Obama because they believed in him? Is it that hard Dennis? Saying we voted for him because he was black is as racist as saying you didn’t vote for him because of it. As if he couldn’t have possible been better than McCain?

  34. Submitted by Alec Timmerman on 12/08/2011 - 07:30 pm.

    Yep, no Republicans ever saw Can as black

    Coulter once again praised the conservative black people she had known, arguing that “our blacks are so much better than their blacks

  35. Submitted by Bruce Johnson on 12/08/2011 - 08:09 pm.

    Dennis Tester at #31 and elsewhere, you write some of the finest self-refuting paragraphs to be found anywhere. Your consistency is also admirable.

  36. Submitted by Ginny Martin on 12/08/2011 - 08:16 pm.

    Just about everyone raised in the United States is a racist. Including me, a liberal white person. We just don’t recognize it because it seems normal, because that’s what we learned. (I urge people to take a class in white privilege and have your eyes opened.)
    If we were not racists, we would not have systemic racism. How else explain why whites have more money, find it easier to get a job, can buy a house or rent an apartment more easily than any black person, can move around in society without exciting some fear and anger . . . ?
    It has its antecedents in slavery and Jim Crow. When white people were so frightened of black people because they might rise up and claim their power, they kept them under control through laws and a “justice” that took place outside of the law, like lynchings. What a terrifying thing that was, and the Census bureau estimates that 4742 lynchings took place between 1882 and 1968.
    When they were freed from slavery, they had nothing: no money, few skills, and most of them exchanged slavery for a sharecropping system that was just about the same as slavery. Social Security and unemployment insurance, passed to help working people gain a little financial stability, left out most African Americans, by specifically excluding agricultural workers and domestics thus eliminating about two-thirds of blacks.
    When FHA and VA and other programs were introduced, most blacks were again left out. Until 1964, when fair housing and fair employment laws were passed, most blacks did not qualify because the agencies categorized the risk by neighborhoods, as most desirable to least desirable. Most desirable were “homogenous” new communities (basically white suburbs). Least desirable were black neighborhoods and to some extent Jewish neighborhoods.
    When the G.I. bill was passed, many blacks were not able to buy homes because they didn’t make enough money and because agencies, especially in the south, did not give them equal consideration. Nor did the G.I. bill which helped whites get good educations, and thus good jobs, didn’t give blacks the same advantages, especially in the south but in the north as well, they were steered into vocational institutes and to the always underfunded historically black colleges in the south and into menial jobs.

  37. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/08/2011 - 08:31 pm.

    I think it all comes back to ignorance. Bigotry is of course a personal responsibility, but my experience is that it’s a lot easier to be a bigot, when a person is ignorant. I still say the primary characteristic of Tea Party folks, and their sympathizers, is ignorance, in some cases, willful ignorance.

  38. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 12/08/2011 - 09:05 pm.

    The Tea is not a self-organized organization. It is only characterized as such by conservative news outlets. Freedom Works, which created the tea party, an organization run by retired republican politician Dick Armey. Financed primarily by a group of billionaire ideologues, such as brothers Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries, who lost no time exploiting the movement’s anger and energy.

  39. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 12/08/2011 - 09:27 pm.

    “Is it that hard for you to believe that people voted for Obama because they believed in him? Is it that hard Dennis?”

    What were his qualifications?? He never led anything, he never accomplished anything and he never proposed any new ideas.

    You’re really going to tell me that democrats were so stupid that they would vote for Hope and Change in an empty suit?

  40. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 12/08/2011 - 09:30 pm.

    Ignorance is voting for a man with no qualifications or accomplishments to be the leader of the free world simply because he’s black so you can assuage your white liberal guilt.

  41. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 12/08/2011 - 09:45 pm.

    The modern Republican Party has been shaped by Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy, and its dog whistle appeal to racial bigotry and stereotypes. Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove and George W. Bush took that strategy to new lows, wrecking the economy in the process.

    The man in the photo above could have been photographed at a McCain rally in 2008 or at a Tea Party rally in 2009. That’s because they’re the same people. The same people who got George W. Bush (and the likes of Michele Bachmann) elected. The same people who thought and still think that the 8 years of the George W. Bush disaster was not enough so they had to kill the Obama Presidency in its crib and so here we are today. What can you say about a self-identified group of people who think liberal=Socialist=Communist=Nazi and go to rallies where people like the man photographed above carry placards like that and deny that they are racist?

  42. Submitted by andrew stephens on 12/09/2011 - 07:46 am.

    Dennis – Obama only won thanks to liberal guilt? I thought you were about the individual and don’t lump people into groups but you’re willing to accuse tens of millions of people of bias. The president was imminently more qualified than both Bush and the half-term governor of the most socialistic state in America, Sarah Palin.

  43. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/09/2011 - 08:27 am.

    liberal guilt got Obama elected? What was I saying about willful ignorance?

  44. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 12/09/2011 - 01:24 pm.

    As a person from left of center who didn’t like either Obama or H. Clinton, I voted for Obama simply because I thought we needed a change after eight years of George W. Bush.

    I might not have bothered if I had known that, despite the hatred that the far right heaps upon him, Obama has continued and even intensified most of Bush’s policies. Even the much despised and mischaracterized “Obama Care” is just Mitt Romney’s plan with a few tweaks.

    If Obama is a Marxist or even a Socialist, then Karl Marx must have had a secret pro-big business ideology that appears in none of his writings.

    Sorry, but I find it hard to imagine that the Tea Partiers would doubt Obama’s U.S. citizenship if his father had been an Irish exchange student instead of a Kenyan.

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