Thursday, April 24, 2008

Is it Really Race That's Messy Up the Democrats?

The New York Times misspecifies the problem for the Democrats in the long primary battle this spring.

Is it racial conflict that's damaging the prospects of a Barack Obama nomination, since the Illinois Senator's demonstrated incomplete electablity in key working class states? Or is the problem really the larger concatenation of all the consequences of Democratic Party identity politics itself, with that project's inherent interventionist, prefential, postmodernist mode of state power likely to harm traditional constituencies in areas from education to tax policy.

Check out the Times' take on this:

It is the question that has hung over Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, and it loomed large on Tuesday night after his loss to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in Pennsylvania: Why has he been unable to win over enough working-class and white voters to wrap up the Democratic nomination?

Lurking behind that question is another: Is the Democratic Party hesitating about race as it moves to the brink of nominating an African-American to be president?

Mr. Obama remains ahead of Mrs. Clinton in delegates, in the popular vote and in national polls, and Mrs. Clinton certainly has her own problems trying to herd Democrats into her corner.

But just when it seemed that the Democratic Party was close to anointing Mr. Obama as its nominee, he lost yet again in a big general election state, dragged down by his weakness among blue-collar voters, older voters and white voters. The composition of Mrs. Clinton’s support — or, looked at another way, the makeup of voters who have proved reluctant to embrace Mr. Obama — has Democrats wondering, if not worrying, about what role race may be playing.

“I’m sure there is some of that,” said David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s senior political adviser, as he considered how race was playing among voters in late primary states. Mr. Axelrod said Mrs. Clinton’s biggest advantage had been among older voters, “and I think there is a general inclination on the part of the older voters to vote for what is more familiar.” He added: “Here’s a guy named Barack Obama, an African-American guy, relatively new. That’s a lot of change.”
That change is found, I would argue, not just in the color of Obama's skin, but in his entire transcendental persona.

The change people aren't so thrilled about is the opening of the the highest ranks of the national government to the influences of hate-filled black liberationist preachers, unrepentant '60s-era domestic terrorists, and Islamist fundraisers whose organizations have been red-flagged and banned by the U.S. Department of Justice.

That's the problem. Had a Colin Powell-type of candidate challenged Hillary for the Democratic nomination, and somehow managed to make it this far, we'd be seeing a more traditional campaign, focusing on the issues of main street rather than Telegraph Road and Harvard Yard.

Thus, when Clinton starts talking - as she has been this last couple of weeks - about the concerns of everyday working class voters, relegating her own long-tradition of identity politics to a footnote, she's finally able to make the connection with people who are the salt of the earth of middle America.

It's not race per se that's tripping-up Obama, but the larger issues of radical change that a Barack Obama presidency would represent.

In that sense, there's some reassurance in the latest rounds of the Democrat race. Each time Hillary has come back the last few months - in New Hampshire, Super Tuesday, Ohio and Texas - everyone's said, "oh, it's racial politics, the "Bradley effect..."

But it's not. The reaction is more ideology, if anything. More traditionalist, and matrialist voters, are cringing against the potential of a radical postmaterialist, postmodern administration under Obama. That the Illinois Senator happens to be black is coincidental.