Sunday, August 17, 2014

To Each Only Their Own

The other day, I was watching a video by this conservative black guy, in which he was raking the black community of Ferguson, Missouri over the coals for the violence and looting that had broken out there. (I'd follow the link only if you have a high tolerance for snide self-righteousness and dubious partisan logic.) This and the tendency of black Americans to vote for the Democratic Party were proof, he said, that black people just wanted free stuff. Towards the end of the video, a thought occurred to me - I hope that this guy doesn't endorse any Republican candidates.

It's become a common talking point among lay Republicans that African Americans are simply interested in getting as much stuff for free as they possibly can. This strikes me as something that makes it difficult, if not next to impossible, for Republicans to make headway in the black community. If one assumes that any given black person doesn't want free stuff, they've basically been insulted. Why would a person join a constituency that has little or no respect for them and basically views them as freeloaders and leeches? Sure, there are people like Mr. Rachel, who believe that the charges of parasitism only apply to "those other blacks," and may have a certain level of confidence that they'll be accepted. But if it's understandable that others can't tell a thug or a gang-banger from a hardworking youth, it seems sort of strange to then assume that any requests you make of your Republican legislator won't be viewed by their other constituents as asking for a handout. On the flip side of the coin, if people do want "free stuff," they're likely to see that as a redress of past grievances. And they've likely always seen it that way. Again, people are unlikely to want to join a constituency that views their complaints as illegitimate and their calls for redress as naked greed.

I'm pretty sure that the Democrats, whose voters are just as likely to see mainly Republican constituencies as unintelligent, credulous and/or deliberately wicked, have the same problem. And so the mutual hostility of the major parties' voters serves to ossify partisan positions, because playing to one's base alienates people outside of it, and attempting to meet people outside of the base where they live alienates the people within it.

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