The 2012 election: why don’t minorities vote Republican?


Partner and I often watch “Up with Chris Hayes” on weekend mornings. I find him a bit shrill and wordy, but at least I agree with him and most of his guests. (And, as we all know, we all prefer to listen to people who confirm our beliefs and – gulp! – prejudices.)

On the morning of November 10, Chris had a very nice gentleman named Avik Roy on his panel. Avik is an American of Indian ancestry, whose expertise is in health care issues, and was described on the show as FORMER ROMNEY CAMPAIGN ADVISOR.

He was very gentle and reasonable on the show, which was to be expected; his party (and his candidate) had just lost a big election, and he was surrounded by political opponents (mostly raving liberals, like yours truly).

But he still said some ridiculous things.

Such as:

“My mother is a very conservative person: she’s frugal, she believes in self-reliance. She’s a natural Republican. But she insists on voting for Democrats.”

And: “The Republican Party is about small government, and fiscal conservatism. It’s not about bigotry or racial disenfranchisement.”

And: “I understand how Mexican immigrants, legal or illegal, must feel in the United States. But I feel more strongly for the people who have tried to enter legally. I think of the Indian school valedictorian who wanted to enter the United States, but who found that he/she wasn’t able to get a visa because of the Obama administration’s policies, and I ask myself if this is really fairness.”

These are all valid opinions, stated respectfully and intelligently, and I respect all three of them.

Except that they’re all completely specious.

#1: “My mother is a very conservative person: she’s frugal, she believes in self-reliance. She’s a natural Republican. But she insists on voting for Democrats.” Kiddo: your mother has dark skin. She has been experiencing American racial prejudice for longer than you have, and in a more intense way. The Democrats are an inclusive party, and welcomes minorities; of course your mother feels more comfortable with them. You, Avik, are younger, and more educated, and have grown up in a more liberal society, and have experienced much less prejudice as a result. Do you get that?

 

#2: “The Republican Party is about small government, and fiscal conservatism. It’s not about bigotry or racial disenfranchisement.” The first sentence is more or less true. Sadly, the second sentence is not true. As several other panel members explained to Avik Roy on the show, Nixon’s Southern Strategy was all about using bigotry to get people to vote Republican. At the beginning, it was just a campaign strategy: the Republicans get bigots to vote for the GOP, and once they’re in office, they’ll quietly ignore that section of the electorate. (Nixon was a pretty awful president, and a bigot, but he didn’t legislate bigotry.) Over time, however, the bigots realized they were being snubbed by the GOP, and insisted on representation. So we get terms like “illegals” and “welfare cheats,” and we know that we mean “Hispanics” and “African-Americans.” So, Avik, I’m afraid your party – for many reason – has in fact espoused bigotry as a vote-getting method, and (once in office) tends to legislate that bigotry.

Worst of all, #3: “I think of the Indian school valedictorian who wanted to enter the United States, but who found that he/she wasn’t able to get a visa because of the Obama administration’s policies, and I ask myself if this is really fairness.” Oh, Avik. Do you think that the average Republican voter, in Mississippi or Wyoming or Arizona, would welcome that Indian school valedictorian in the United States? Certainly not. He’s not white, Avik. He’s an Indian.

Avik, Avik. Go have a chat with your mother. And get a clue.


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About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

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