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The Divided States of America

Once upon a time a little-known state senator from Illinois gave a speech to the Democratic National Convention and wowed the delegates with a speech that famously declared “There’s not a black America and a white America and a Latino America and an Asian America, there’s the United States of America.” So stirring was his unifying rhetoric that the obscure state senator was elected President of the United States just four years later, and six years into his presidency the country seems more racially divided than at in any time in recent memory.
Take a close look at the polls around the country and you’ll quickly notice the glaring racial gaps. There’s a tight Senate race in Georgia partly because the Democrat is heiress to a political dynasty dating back to the days when that state was among her segregationist party’s solid south but mostly because she now somehow has the support of 84 percent of black voters to bolster her meager 23 percent support among whites. Another close race in North Carolina has the Democrat running neck-to-neck because she’s adding 87 percent of the black voters to her 30 percent share of the white vote. In Arkansas the Democrat is running behind with only 77 percent of the black vote added to the usual 30 percent of the white vote. The Democrat in Louisiana is behind her race because a mere 65 percent of the black vote is insufficient to make up here 20 percent support among whites. In California the incumbent Democratic governor is currently losing a majority of the white vote, but seems destined to roll to re-election on the basis of strong support from black and Latino voters. The same racial and ethnic disparities are apparent in states and districts where the minority vote is less consequential to the outcome of the elections, but even there the implications for racial comity between groups with such distinctly different preferences about how to be governed are not at all encouraging.
Various explanation for this racial divide have been offered, and one can choose among them according to his ideological preference. Democrats will insist that the federal government has not only been the guarantor of minority civil rights but also their political and economic benefactor, and that a minority of whites bravely willing to relinquish their historically privileged position provides the democratic majority needed to continues that government’s relentless expansion. Republicans will argue that the relentless expansion of government threatens individual liberty and the economic and cultural dynamism it creates, and when the vast majority of minority inevitably reject this arguments the few racists remaining among the conservatives will claim vindication for their belief that only white men are equal to the harsh demands of liberty. No matter the outcome of those close races, race relations will be further strained.
In the past several election cycles the Democrats have also benefited from a “gender gap” that saw the Republicans’ significant advantage among male voters overwhelmed by an ever more significant disadvantage among women voters, but those nagging poll numbers suggest that this time around the Republicans are still winning with men and have recently gained parity or even a small edge with women. The always implausible claim that Republicans are waging a “war on women” provoked laughter from the audience at a recent upstate New York congressional debate and have led Colorado’s Democratic Senate nominee Mark Udall to be widely known as “Mark Uterus,” and pre-feminist levels of female participation in the workforce workforce and other unsettling economic facts have caused many women to question the Democratic party’s solutions to their problems and consider the possibility that both sexes have an equal stake in increasing economic opportunities through free market solutions, so the Democrats have resorted to ever more incendiary methods to increase their racial advantage. In key states where the minority vote can be decisive the Democrats are raising the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman in Ferguson, Missouri, despite the evidence widely reported by usually supportive press outlets that the policeman acted in self-denfese, and Republican efforts to prevent voter fraud with photo identification requirements and other common-sense reforms are offered as further proof of the Republican party’s racism. These efforts are also likely to exacerbate America’s racial tensions, but staving off an expected Republican landslide in next weeks mid-term election is apparently a higher priority than unifying rhetoric.
This  stark disagreement between the races about how America should be governed won’t end with the mid-terms, and will probably be worsened. Republican majorities in the Senate and House will be all the more resistant to the policies that are proposed as righteous retribution to the country’s racial minorities, congressional Democrats who survive the white backlash will be emboldened to make more explicitly racialist appeals to non-white voters, and the free-market and free-individual reforms that would benefit everyone be more unlikely to happen.
The next presidential election will afford an opportunity for the Republicans to make their limited government appeals to groups that have disproportionately benefited from the relentless expansion of government, and we hope they’ll take full advantage. The pitch won’t alienate many whites, and we’re hopeful it will appeal to the self-reliant and freedom-loving non-white people that we resolutely believe are out there. Sooner or later the Democrats’ uneasy coalition of blacks and Latinos will begin squabbling over their unavoidable economic and political competitions, women will realize their fortunes are tied to the same economic conditions that affect men, and a policy of neutrality rather than preference will prove the only viable option. In the past several election cycles there has been a spate of stories about how the Republicans’ need to reach out women and racial minorities to remain competitive, but if the conventional wisdom holds up a week from now there will be stories about how the Democrats need to address their problem with white men, and to the event that limited government and increased individual liberty are a white male thing that will be good.

— Bud Norman

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