The 2010 election cycle is notable for the Republican Party tidal wave that saw the Democrat Party lose control of the House of Representatives, and have diminished majority in the Senate. The Wave brought with it some diversity in the GOP’s Congressional delegation: there are now two African American Republicans in the House of Representatives.
The last time there were two African Americans Republicans in Congress was in 1995-96, when J. C. Watts represented the 4th District of Oklahoma and Gary Franks represented the 5th district of Connecticut.
This year’s breakthrough occurred thanks to the election of black Republicans in Florida and South Carolina. Allen West won his race for congress in southern Florida, while Tim Scott won his race in the Charleston and northern coastal area of South Carolina.
Allen West won in Florida’s 22nd District, which includes parts of Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, and other portions of Broward County and Palm Beach County. These are north of Dade County, which contains the city of Miami.
West’s district is 75% white, 15% Hispanic, and just 5% black. He beat out two-term Democratic incumbent Ron Klein by a margin of 54.3% for himself to 45.7% for Klein. The two had faced each other in the 2008 election; in that election, Klein beat West by 55% to 45%.
West has something of a reputation for being controversial and combative. The 2010 Almanac of American Politics spoke of West in its discussion of the 2008 election:
…former Army Lieutenant Col. Allen West… retired after a 2003 incident in which he fired a gun near the head of an Iraqi detainee in an effort to make him reveal information about plans to attack U.S. troops. West’s explanation was that he had “sacrificed” his military career “for the lives of my men.”
Also during the 2008 campaign, West charged that a request for an interview from Al-Jezeera was actually part of a kidnapping plot.
The website TalkingPointsMemo.com said this about West:
Without a doubt, Allen West is going to become a new star all around — adored on the right, and a bogeyman of the left. First of all, West built his conservative political career on a particular event from his own military service — when he tortured an Iraqi policeman, and was proud of it. Since then, his attitudes on foreign policy haven’t changed much: “A nation goes to war against an ideology. We are against something that is a totalitarian, theocratic, political ideology, and it is called Islam.” The incident ended his time in uniform, and launched him on a track to Republican politics.
Also during this past campaign, West faced questions over his campaign’s ties to a criminal biker gang, The Outlaws. And at one of his events, a group of leather-clad men ejected a Democratic video tracker, as West got the crowd cheering. (It is unclear whether these same security men were Outlaws. In addition, West has pointed out that he could not possibly be an Outlaw himself — they do not accept African-Americans as members.)
It remains to be seen if West will this interesting once he gets on to the mundane tasks of representing his district in Congress, although being a black Republican will surely get West some media attention no matter what he does.
DID YOU KNOW: South Florida now has three African American representative in the Congress: West; Alcee Hastings, who represents Florida’s 23rd District; and newly-elected Fredrica Wilson, of Florida’s 17th District. The 17th District seek was previously held by Kendrick Meek. Meek ran for the U.S. Senate this year, and lost in a three-way race (that included outgoing Florida governor Charlie Christ) to Marco Rubio.
The other successful Republican African American candidate for U.S. Congress is Tim Scott. Scott will be representing the 1st District of South Carolina. This includes much of the Charleston metro area, although the heavily black parts are in the nearby 6th District. The 6th District is represented by James Clyburn, who is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Clyburn is the current House Majority (Democratic Party) Whip, which is one of the leadership positions among House Democrats; however, with Republicans taking over the House, his role may change. We'll see.
Right after Obama’s presidential election win last November, I made this comment:
Here are my own election winners and losers, plus some “too early to tell” entries…
Too Early to Tell:
Black Voters: They were huge this election. Blacks were 13% of the total vote, up from 10% in 2000 and 11% in 2004. That helped make the difference in close elections for several states.
The question is, can they be depended on in future elections? Or will their turnout drop without Obama at the top of election ballots?
I think a lot more work needs to be done to make black voters a dependable election force, in close elections or elections in the South. Because if they’re not a dependable political force, that lessens their power and influence in the long run.
It will be interesting to see how much of the black vote turns out for the Georgia Senate runoff election between Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss and his opponent, Democrat Jim Martin. Martin has no hope of winning if black voters stay home; we’ll see if they sit this one out.
In the aforementioned Georgia Senate race, Jim Martin did wind up losing, and low black turnout was a factor.
Yesterday, Republicans won the governor’s election in New Jersey and Virginia. In both cases, the young and black voters who were key to Obama’s election success were not decisive in their support for the Democratic candidate.
Liz Sidoti of the Associated Press made these comments:
In another troubling omen for Democrats, the surveys also showed that more of the Virginians who turned out on Tuesday said they supported Republican John McCain in 2008 than said they backed Obama. That suggests the Democrats had difficulty turning out their base, including the swarms of first-time minority and youth voters whom Obama attracted as part of his diverse coalition.
A loss in Virginia could suggest that the diverse coalition that Obama cobbled together last year in Virginia and elsewhere — blacks, Hispanics, young people, independents and Republican crossovers — was a one-election phenomenon that didn’t transfer to the Democratic Party when Obama wasn’t on the ballot.
I share Sidoti’s concern, although I disagree with her comment that the Obama election win was a one hit wonder in terms of pulling together what I call the “Obama coalition” of young, black, Hispanic and independent voters.
Witness, for example, 38-year old Democrat Anthony Foxx in the Charlotte, North Carolina mayoral election. Voters in the city ended more than two decades of Republican leadership in Charlotte Tuesday by electing Foxx, who is the city’s second African-American mayor and the youngest in memory. Foxx won a close race, getting roughly 51 percent of the vote over Republican John Lassiter in unofficial tallies.
Foxx benefitted from a strong black turnout. African Americans are 35% of Charlotte’s population. The Democrats need to find and promote more candidates like him, who appeal to diverse constituents.
The bottom line is, if the Democrats are going to win “the Obama way,” they need to embrace the kinds of voters that put Obama into office. Failure to do so is perilous. Consider these comments from the Washington Post, concerning the election campaign in Virginia governor’s race:
Senior (Obama) administration officials have expressed frustration with how Democrat R. Creigh Deeds has handled his campaign for governor, refusing early offers of strategic advice and failing to reach out to several key constituencies that helped Obama win Virginia in 2008, they say.
A senior administration official said (Democratic gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh) Deeds badly erred on several fronts, including not doing a better job of coordinating with the White House. “I understood in the beginning why there was some reluctance to run all around the state with Barack Obama,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to speak candidly about the race. “You don’t do that in Virginia. But when you consider the African American turnout that they need, and then when you consider as well they’ve got a huge problem with surge voters, younger voters, we were just a natural for them.”
A second administration official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “Obama, (outgoing Democratic governor Tim) Kaine and others had drawn a road map to victory in Virginia. Deeds chose another path.”
And it goes without saying that black voters can’t afford to be apathetic or unengaged simply because certain kinds of candidates aren’t running. Not everyone who runs for political office is exciting or charismatic. And sometimes it is about voting for the lesser of two evils. Black folks need to be willing to come out to the polls even in those kinds of situations.
There’s been a rash of politicians-mainly Southern, always Republican-who have made comments to the effect that their states should secede from the United States. Given that these statements are being made a time when we have an African American President, the symbolism of this rhetoric is extremely disturbing.
General David Poythress is a Democratic candidate for Governor of Georgia. He has this to say about politicians who would “cut and run from America”:
This is some text from the clip:
For years, Georgia’s 8th Grade students read in their history books about our state’s decision to secede from the United States back in 1861. Today, our students need only look at a daily newspaper to see that talk of secession isn’t just a thing of the past. In fact, four of the six Republican candidates said they would support Georgia seceding from the United States of America. This is outrageous.
This is absolutely disgraceful—it’s a slap in the face to every patriotic American, to anybody who has served under the American flag and to those brave Georgians who have fought and died for our country in Iraq…
What really offends me the most, is that none of these Republican secession candidates ever wore, for a single day, the uniform of our country, carried a weapon, or heard a shot fired in anger. Not ONE ever put their life on the line to protect our freedoms and liberty.
But they recklessly call for secession from America. They would in effect, ban the American flag and end the pledge of allegiance. They would say to the world that when they don’t get their way, they quit.
That’s just childish. That’s cowardice, not leadership… Real leadership means we work toward common sense solutions to protect American values, not just quit our country because we don’t agree with other Americans… United We Stand. Divided We Fall… Know this: when I’m the Governor of Georgia, I won’t cut and run from America… When I say the Pledge of Allegiance, I mean it.
I don’t know much else about the General, and let me make it clear, I am not promoting his candidacy. But this is an important and timely message, and I felt strongly that I should help to spread it.
In a related note: earlier this week, I attended a Juneteenth celebration that was held at the main library here in Washington, DC. During the event, one of the speakers asked everyone to rise and say the Pledge of Allegiance.
Most of the people in the almost all-African American audience stood and said the pledge. But there was a bunch of people who did not.
I was troubled by this. Yes, this country has committed its share of offenses. Certainly, slavery and Jim Crow are evils that will forever stain the American legacy.
But darn it, this is our country too. During the Civil War, some 200,000 African Americans served in the Union forces. Many of them died in the cause of our freedom, a freedom that all black Americans enjoy today… and that many black Americans, sadly and unfortunately, squander.
My uncle served in World War II. He was a part of General Patton’s black tank unit. He took pride in showing me a Nazi swastika that he captured from German soldiers. And I took pride in hearing of his accomplishments.
Bottom line, we fought for this country, we built this country, we ARE this country. America is us.
I am proud to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Not necessarily for the America that is, but for the America that I want and am willing to work hard to create. I pledge that I will make America a better place, not just for me, or my family, but for the world community.
And that’s something we should all stand for.
PS: I don’t mean to imply that folks who don’t say the Pledge of Allegiance are unpatriotic or other wise “bad.” What I am saying is, I hope that people won’t see our nation’s horrible race history as a block to saying the Pledge. I’m not saying that we should turn our back on the past, but rather, turn our faces forward to the future, and pledge to the country we want to create, not the one we had before or even the one we have now.
I want to give a hat tip to the folks at Indigo Journal for turning me on to this story.
I guess the Republican Party just can’t help it. Making crude comments about African Americans, even one who has reached the position of POTUS, seems to be in their DNA. Consider these clumsy remarks by the Republican Party about Barack Obama and his wife Michelle:
• From Newscoma: Tennessee GOP state Senator Diane Black (R-Gallatin) sent an email with this image of our country’s presidents.
• From the Indigo Journal: Mike Green, a Republican operative who is helping to run the campaign for GOP gubernatorial candidate Gresham Barrett, posted the following joke about President Obama on his Twitter account:
JUST HEARD OBAMA IS GOING TO IMPOSE A 40% TAX ON ASPIRIN BECAUSE IT’S WHITE AND IT WORKS.
• Fitsnews.com reports: Republican Rusty DePass, a former SC State Senate candidate, supporter of former President George W. Bush, and Longtime GOP activist, made this comment after hearing about the escape of a gorilla from a zoo in Columbia South Carolina:
“I’m sure it’s just one of Michelle’s ancestors — probably harmless.
And yet they wonder why they can’t get more black votes…
One of the supposed appeals of having Michael Steele as chairman of the Republican National Committee was that he would be a beacon of diversity to minorities interested in joining the Republican Party.
OK, here’s the question. How many African Americans have decided to become Republicans because of this guy?
Michael Steele, Republican National Committee
Seriously. Do you know any blacks who’ve been inspired to become a Republican due to the Steele’s chairmanship of the Republican Party?
Any politician in Washington (in America?) has one of several competing goals when making a political decision:
• do what’s good for the country
• do what’s good for local constituencies
• do what’s good for his political party
• do what’s necessary to get elected
This often presents a politican with a problem. Because what’s good for the country is not necessarily what’s good for his constituents, which is not necessarily good for his political party, which is not necessarily good for getting elected.
Which brings us to the case of Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter. Specter shook up Washington by announcing he was switching from the Republican Party to the Democratic party.
Specter is a moderate/conservative politician who, he believes, is not conservative enough to win the Republican Senatorial primary next year. But he does believe that he’ll win in the general election, when voters of all (or no) parties get to cast a ballot.
What got Specter into such trouble with Republicans in his state? Specter voted for the multi-billion dollar 2009 stimulus package. He felt the stimulus was good for the country. But Republicans in Congress voted overwhelmingly against the stimulus, and Specter was seen as a traitor for not joining with them.
So we see the conundrum of modern politics. People say they want independent lawmakers who will put partisanship aside, and just do the right thing. But the fact is, when principle is voted over party, there is often a political price to pay. Specter’s price was becoming a political outcast among the membrs of the Pennsylvania Republican Party.
So now Specter is a member of the Democratic Party. And already questioned are being asked about his loyalty to that Party.
So it seems like Specter is damned if he do, and damned if he don’t. And that pretty much describes the current state of American politics: just plain damned.
In the previous blog entry, we mentioned that Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, expressed his desire to see more people of color represented within the Republican Party. Steele made this statement at a meeting of Florida Republicans. At the same meeting, Jim Greer, Florida’s party chairman, said that the party would focus on using technology to invigorate younger Republicans.
The folowing charts help to explain why Republicans might be concerned about ethnic and age diversity within their party. These are from the Young Voters in the 2008 Presidential Election Fact Sheet, which was prepared by CIRCLE, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.
This first chart is not elegant aesthetically, but it makes a powerful point about the ethnic make-up of voters in the November elections. The chart shows the ethnicity of the electorate, broken-out by different age groups.
I know this is redundant, but let me go over the numbers on the above chart:
• For voters who are 60 years old or more, the ethnic composition of the vote was 85% white, 8% black, and 4% Hispanic
• For voters aged 45-59, the ethnicity was 80% white, 12% black, and 4% Hispanic
• For voters aged 30-44, the ethnicity was 72% white, 15% black, and 7% Hispanic
• For voters aged 18-29, the ethnicity was 64% white, 19% black, and 11% Hispanic
What we’re seeing is that the under-30 population has become more ethnically diverse than older age groups. Whites are a smaller portion of the electorate, while the percentage of African Americans and Hispanics is growing.
The problem for Republicans is that African Americans and Hispanics tend to vote for Democrats. The following chart shows the percentage of people who voted for Obama in the November elections, by ethnicity and age-group:
”Please send some folks to the convention that look like Florida. Could you help a brother out? No more national conventions with [only] 36 people of color in the room.”
– Michael Steele, Chairman, Republican National Committee, speaking at a meeting of Florida Republicans in early April.
They say that, to solve a problem, you first have to know what the problem is.
But after you know what the problem is… you need a way to solve the problem, otherwise, the problem doesn’t go away.
I’ll give this to Michael Steele: he’s not afraid to say what the problem is. As discussed in Blacked Out: African Americans Near Invisible at the Republican Convention,
The 36 black delegates to the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul is the lowest total in 40 years for a Republican National Convention. These delegates represent 1.5 percent of the total number of delegates, substantially below the record setting 6.7 percent in 2004. (Editor’s note: The United States is 13% African American.)
Steele’s statement is useful, insofar it as it acknowledges the GOP’s obvious problem in attracting minorities, and signals that the Republican Party (or at least, that Michael Steele) wants minority input and participation.
The question is: where do they go from there? What is their plan to attract African Americans and Hispanics to the fold?
I have yet to hear it. If you have, drop me a line and let me know.
Who says black Republicans don’t have a sense of humor?
The National Black Republican Association posted this wonderfully laughable piece of satire on their website. Share in the amusement:
White Guilt Emancipation Declaration
We, black American citizens of the United States of America and of the National Black Republican Association, do hereby declare that our fellow white American citizens are now, henceforth and forever more free of White Guilt.
This freedom from White Guilt was duly earned by the election of Barack Hussein Obama, a black man, to be our president by a majority of white Americans based solely on the color of his skin.
Freedom is not free, and we trust that the price paid for this freedom from White Guilt is worth the sacrifice, since Obama is a socialist who does not share the values of average Americans and will use the office of the presidency to turn America into a failed socialist nation.
Granted this November 4, 2008 – the day Barack Hussein Obama was elected as the first black president and the first socialist president of the United States of America.
Ha ha ha!
From a posting on DailyKos, Florida GOP County Chair: Help!Black People are Voting!!!:
There are days in Florida when you feel like you are living in the 19th Century. Here is part of the text of an e-mail sent by the Chairman of the Hillsborough Republican Party (this is county that contains Tampa).
HERE IN TEMPLE TERRACE, FL OUR REPUBLICAN HQ IS ONE BLOCK AWAY FROM OUR LIBRARY, WHICH IS AN EARLY VOTING SITE.
I SEE CARLOADS OF BLACK OBAMA SUPPORTERS COMING FROM THE INNER CITY TO CAST THEIR VOTES FOR OBAMA. THIS IS THEIR CHANCE TO GET A BLACK PRESIDENT AND THEY SEEM TO CARE LITTLE THAT HE IS AT MINIMUM, SOCIALIST, AND PROBABLY MARXIST IN HIS CORE BELIEFS. AFTER ALL, HE IS BLACK–NO EXPERIENCE OR ACCOMPLISHMENTS–BUT HE IS BLACK.
I ALSO SEE YOUNG COLLEGE STUDENTS AND THEIR PROFESSORS FROM USF PARKING THEIR CARS WITH THE PROMINENT ‘OBAMA’ BUMPER STICKERS. THE STUDENTS ARE ENTHUSIASTIC TO BE VOTING IN A HISTORIC ELECTION WHERE THERE MAY BE THE FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT.
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies recently conducted a National Opinion Poll which surveyed 750 African American adults from across the country. The survey was conducted between September 16 and October 6, 2008. The survey covers a range of topics including the politics of the 2008 election and various issues, including education.
This is a breakdown of the partisan identification for those in the survey:
African American Political Party Identification – 2000, 2004, 2008
Source: The 2008 Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies National Opinion Poll
Note: The table shows the percentage of survey respondents who consider themselves to be Democrat, Independent, or Republican. The numbers in the “Total” column reflect the count of persons who were surveyed.
Democratic identification among African Americans has grown from 63% in 2004 to 73% now. The percentage of blacks who identify themselves as Republican is down from 10% in 2004 to 4% now.
And what is the voter preference for president? From the Survey:
Suppose the 2008 Presidential election were being held today. Who would you like to see win, the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama or the Republican candidate, John McCain?
• Obama: 84%
• McCain: 6%
• Don’t Know: 10%
Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama for president has re-ignited the discussion of African American support for the Democratic and Republican Parties. It’s useful to take a quick look at black party identification patterns prior this election, as a way to provide some perspective on the eventual voting numbers we’ll see this year. Then we’ll be able to gauge just how much of an impact Barack Obama had on black voting behavior.
The following two charts are from reports prepared by the Joint Center for Political Studies. They show trendlines in African American identification with the Democratic and Republican Parties up to 2004.
What’s interesting is this: African Americans under the age of 30 were increasingly identifying themselves as Democrats through 2004. Meanwhile, the African American population overall was trending toward being less Democrat, and more Republican.
That’s an ominous trend for the Republican Party. Given the Obama campaign’s success in engaging both young and black voters, there will almost certainly be an increase in under-30 African Americans who identify themselves as Democrats following this election. The GOP’s job of attracting a new generation of black voters has become much more difficult – and it wasn’t easy before now!
This is in addition to the bad news for Republicans that the Obama candidacy seems to bringing many older blacks back into the Democratic camp.
Some other notes from the Joint Center report:
YOUNG BLACK VOTERS
While the 74 percent of African Americans who identify with the Democratic Party in the Joint Center’s 2004 National Opinion Poll is down from the recent high point (2000), there is ample reason for the Democrats to feel conﬁdent about their black support (especially with Senator Barack Obama as their 2008 presidential nominee), because the previous decline in support from young African Americans has been reversed. The 74 percent of African Americans who identify with the Democratic Party consist of 63 percent who clearly identify with the party, and 11 percent who are political independents who “lean” more to the Democratic Party than to the GOP.
Prior to 2004, declines in black Democratic identiﬁcation had been driven by younger, i.e., under 35 year old, African Americans. In Joint Center national opinion polls conducted prior to 2004, only 50 to 60 percent of 18-to-25-year-old African Americans identiﬁed with the Democratic Party (Figure 2). However, since the Bush Administration launched the Iraq war, younger African Americans have moved decisively leftward, with 75 percent identifying with the Democrats in 2004. In the 2004 election, 18-29 year-olds were the only age cohort where Kerry defeated Bush.
VOTING IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
Between the presidential election years of 2000 and 2004, the black Democratic presidential vote declined from 90 to 88 percent, which does not represent a statistically signiﬁcant change. This suggests that the relationship between the Democratic Party and African Americans remained on very solid footing during those years. The black Democratic vote since 1964 has remained in the range of 90 ± 5 percent, except when H. Ross Perot ran as a third-party candidate. With Senator Barack Obama at the top of the Democratic ticket this fall, black support is likely to increase from these already high levels.
The prospects for an increase in the black Republican vote in 2008 are nonexistent. While black public opinion is neither as liberal nor as uniform as observers in the press, politics, and academia have thought, the poor economy, high gas prices, Bush’s unpopularity, and the war in Iraq—coupled with Obama’s popularity—suggest a possible 50 percent decline in black Republican support.
In order for John McCain to win the presidential election, he has to win in one or two key northern states. So the McCain campaign is pulling out all the stops to eke out a win in places like Pennsylvania, for example.
What does “pulling out all the stops” look like? How about this:
AP, PHILADELPHIA – Pennsylvania Republicans are disavowing an e-mail sent to Jewish voters that likens a vote for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to events that led up to the Holocaust.
“Jewish Americans cannot afford to make the wrong decision on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008,” the e-mail reads. “Many of our ancestors ignored the warning signs in the 1930s and 1940s and made a tragic mistake. Let’s not make a similar one this year!”
A copy of the e-mail, provided by Democratic officials, says it was “Paid for by the Republican Federal Committee of PA – Victory 2008.”
The story from the Associated Press notes that the Pennsylvania Republican Party was for the mailing before they were against it:
Political consultant Bryan Rudnick, identified as the strategist who helped write the message, was reached Saturday night and confirmed he no longer works for the party, which employed him a few weeks ago as a consultant to do outreach to Jewish voters.
“I had authorization from party officials” to send the e-mail, Rudnick said, but he declined to say who had signed off on it. “I’m not looking to drag anyone else through the mud, so I’m not naming names right now,” he said.
This comes on the heels of the story of an attempted hoax by McCain campaign volunteer Ashley Todd in Pittsburgh. Todd, a 20-year-old college student , had claimed that she was mugged at an ATM by a large black man who, upon seeing a McCain sticker on her car, scratched the letter “B” — for “Barack” — on her face.
If that story sounds unreal, it’s because it was. Todd has since admitted it was all a hoax.
Questions remian, though, about the complicity of the Republican Party in publicizing the hoax to the press. As reported at the website Talking Points Memo (TPM):
John McCain’s Pennsylvania communications director told reporters in the state an incendiary version of the hoax story about the attack on a McCain volunteer well before the facts of the case were known or established — and even told reporters outright that the “B” carved into the victim’s cheek stood for “Barack,” according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions.
John Verrilli, the news director for KDKA in Pittsburgh, told TPM Election Central that McCain’s Pennsylvania campaign communications director gave one of his reporters a detailed version of the attack that included a claim that the alleged attacker said, “You’re with the McCain campaign? I’m going to teach you a lesson.”
Verrilli also told TPM that the McCain spokesperson had claimed that the “B” stood for Barack. According to Verrilli, the spokesperson also told KDKA that Sarah Palin had called the victim of the alleged attack, who has since admitted the story was a hoax.
The McCain spokesperson’s claims… (are) significant because it reveals a McCain official pushing a version of the story that was far more explosive than the available or confirmed facts permitted at the time.
It seems that the communications staff for the Pennsylvania Republican Party has been very busy lately.
Fortunately, the hoax was revealed before the police went on a witch hunt to find a “big black guy” who might have been responsible for the fake assault.
It seems that the Republican Party has a history of using scare tactics in western Pennsylvania.
I’ve spoken with a lot of folks about this. Are these acts by the McCain campaign racist? No, not intentionally. But it does show that, in this time of desperation, some members of the McCain campaign have lost their moral compass, and will in fact say anything and do anything to get their candidate elected. I hope the voters are taking notice.
McCarthyism is a term describing the intense anti-communist suspicion in the United States in a period that lasted roughly from the early 1940s to the late 1950s. This period is also referred to as the Second Red Scare, and coincided with increased fears about communist influence on American institutions and espionage by Soviet agents.
Originally coined to criticize the actions of U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy, “McCarthyism” later took on a more general meaning, not necessarily referring to the conduct of Joseph McCarthy alone.
During this time many thousands of Americans were accused of being Communists or communist sympathizers and became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning before government or private-industry panels, committees and agencies.
A 1947 comic book published by the Catechetical Guild Educational Society warning of the supposed dangers of a Communist takeover.
There’s a saying from the Greeks that, whom the gods would destroy, they first drive mad.
Well, it seems like the Republicans are pretty mad right now.
And when Republicans get mad, they turn to one of their old stand-bys: characterizing Democrats and liberals as anti-American, unpatriotic, socialist, communist scum.
The poster child for this shameless post-McCarthyism has become Michele Bachmann, a Republican congresswoman from Minnesota. This is from an interview of Bachmann with Chris Matthews on the MSNBC show Hardball:
MATTHEWS: You believe Barack Obama may – because of this relationship (to Bill Ayers) – have anti-American views?
BACHMANN: Absolutely. I’m very concerned that he [Obama] may have anti-American views.
MATTHEWS: How many in the Congress of the United States do you think are anti-American? You already suspect Barack Obama — is he alone or do you think there are others?
BACHMANN: The news media should do a penetrating expose … on the views of the people in Congress and find out if they’re pro-America or anti-America.
Although Bachmann has gotten the most notoriety for her comments, she’s certainly not alone in playing the McCarthy card. At a fund raiser in North Carolina, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said “We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation”… a comment that, by logical extension, means city and suburban folks-the types who vote for Democrats-are “fake” and “unpatriotic” Americans.
At a campaign rally in North Carolina, Republican congressman Robin Hayes said that “liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God.” At a meeting of Florida Republican in Orlando, Republican Senator Mel Martinez compared Barack Obama’s tax plans to those in Castro’s Cuba, saying “That’s socialism, that’s communism, that’s not what Americanism is about.”
Keep in mind, this is coming from high level elected Republican officials. It’s not hard to imagine that even worse is being said by state and local Republican officials. (And we won’t even talk about what’s happening on talk radio.)
Now, there was a time when Democrats and liberals would cower in fear at these kinds of attacks. These are the same tactics that, after all, helped to spark the Reagan Revolution and get George W Bush elected and re-elected. But that was then.
Colin Powell made a rousing, eloquent, and touching endorsement of Barack Obama today on Meet the Press.
It remains to be seen how much of an impact this will have.
I suspect that a lot of people will dismiss this endorsement, saying that the only reason Powell endorsed Obama is because both are black.
Others will say that Powell is getting back at the Republican Party in general, and the neo-conservatives who pushed the Iraq War in particular, for duping Powell into selling the “Iraq has WMD” story to the United Nations. That story turned out to be pure fiction, and Powell’s reputation took a huge blow as a result.
I think the Powell endorsement will resonate less with Americans than his actual endorsement comments-at least, for those who get a chance to hear his comments from Meet the Press.
His comments were moving, especially his condemnation of the anti-Muslim bigotry that is gripping this nation, and is especially putting a choke-hold on the blood-supply-to-the-brain of many McCain supporters.
In the end, the endorsement does something that is huge: it enables the Obama campaign to win a news cycle, when there are just 17 days until the election. As these days of lost opportunities for McCain to gain ground add up, it will become very difficult, and eventually impossible, for him to gain parity with Obama in the polls and in the voting booth.
From Colin Powell:
Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no. That’s not America. Is there something wrong with a seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion that (Obama) is a Muslim and might have an association with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.
I feel particularly strong about this because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay, was of a mother at Arlington Cemetery and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone, and it gave his awards – Purple Heart, Bronze Star – showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death, he was 20 years old. And then at the very top of the head stone, it didn’t have a Christian cross. It didn’t have a Star of David. It has a crescent and star of the Islamic faith.
And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. And he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was fourteen years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he could serve his country and he gave his life.