Column: Campaigns flood us with reductive racial rhetoric. How can we push back?
This week, we are examining whether the campaign rhetoric of the Democratic party is making a difference in our politics. It appears that the party’s “solutions” are a “race” to the exit.
This is not a partisan issue. The Republicans have been, too, but there are big differences between how the party talks about the issues and how they talk about the personalities of the candidates who stand on the other side of the aisle. The Democrats, on the other hand, have been running with a slogan (Obama for America) that seems to have nothing to do with any issues. It is as if the Democrats’ mission is to win the white vote, which is currently anemic in this country. By focusing on race, the Democrats have given whites a false and convenient sense of power. It is no wonder that this “solution” — which would be anything but a solution — is the Democrats’ current mantra. The only solution they ever offer is white supremacy.
As we explore this issue, we are reminded of something that became clear to me during the 2008 election campaign. The candidate who most eloquently and forcefully talked about how we could unite in the cause of “hope and change” was not either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. It was George W. Bush. He was a master at conveying the idea of what it means to “do” politics in this country. Here, Bush offered a vision that, for many reasons, resonated with many voters. It was a vision that included the “moral” dimension: there was a need for a vision that was inclusive. It was a vision that embraced the notion of “compassion” — that was about “all of us caring about everybody.”
The contrast between “compassion” and the Democratic Party is striking. The latter has been about a race of “us” versus “them.” Democrats have been about the “us” versus the “them.” “Us” are those who own the means of production. “Us” are those who work to get ahead. “Us” are those