The Republicans, Black People, And My Rampant Impressions As A Left-Leaning Moderate

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 15.678% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I watched the last night of the Democratic National Convention – not because I expected anything to change my opinions, but because part of me still can’t believe we have a black President, so I tune in to have the pleasure of reminding me that yeah, that happened.
But watching the Democratic convention, it struck me how naturally diverse the audience was.  On the brief occasions I tuned into the Republican National Convention (usually via YouTube snippets, I acknowledge), the audience was pretty much starkly white.  There were occasional cutaways to the handfuls of black people in the audience – because yes, black people can vote Republican, and enthusiastically – but largely, it was the Sea of Caucasia.
Whereas there were cutaways to the various ethnicities in the DNC, each probably carefully chosen by cameramen, but they didn’t seem as gratuitous to me.  Mainly because, on the big overviews of the crowds, there were just more of them to look at.
Yet when I’ve logged into Facebook over the past couple of days, I’ve seen repeated image macros from my conservative friends, touting all the black people in the conservative party – Condoleezza Rice! Herman Cain!  Colin Powell!  Clarence Thomas! We have black people, too!  We’re the party of color!
The problem is that it sounded like a marketing scheme. REPUBLICANS: NOW WITH 40% MORE BLACK!
Which is, I think, a problem with the Republican party.  Overhearing my conservative buddies talking about black people, they sound enraged, as if they deserved to have all of the black people and they weren’t getting their fair share.  It’s the kind of thing that sounds, to an outsider, like this whole lack of black voting is just a message thing – if we could just talk to those people correctly, we’d loop ’em all in!  The only reason the Democrats are getting them is because, well, they have some sort of crazy magic that allows them to ensnare other races!  Or, or, they pander to their base racial instincts!  If we just attuned our message, we could get more of the black people pie!
Which is, fundamentally, alienating.  It feels like hey, we need your demographic, so get over here.  Oh, you’re here?  We’re so glad to have you, we need you, stand forward.
Whereas Democrats certainly kiss their share of Latino butt (as any politician has to do for any significant voting bloc, conservative or liberal)… but for all of the Democrats’ fumbling with race, there’s a certain racial comfort that feels more baked in to me.  When among Democrats, you can, and should, discuss the problems that being of a given race is, instead of the oft-given conservative “That doesn’t matter, America is equal now, bringing up race makes you racist!” party line.  When I hear the Democrats talking race, it doesn’t sound defensive, but expansive. Hey, you’re here!  You’ve got problems because of your skin color?  Well, hey, is there anything we can do to fix that?
So it’s no wonder that the quote-unquote minorities turn out for Democrats.  Because when one party has the double-standard of “We’re all the same in God’s eyes, but you!  Stand up so people can see you,” and the other is “We’ve got our differences, but let’s pull together,” then the second is just naturally more attractive.  And it can be argued which party actually does better at breaking down the social problems that create racial barriers, but as a message?  The Republicans sound to me as though the black people are just a natural resource to be exploited, like oil or land.
And here’s the truth: that’s probably how all politicians view all voters.  Natural resources.  But the ones who win the vote make that drilling seem a little less transparent.
(Here’s another truth: this is probably how Democrats sound to the white working class.)

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