The poll's findings are a monumental embarrassment for Texas and the South. It should also be extraordinarily humiliating for the Republican Party to know that it has become a regional rump Party of the South comprised largely of old folks and and a majority of the racially intolerant and xenophobes. If we want to be taken seriously and gain the respect of the rest of the planet, the region must honestly address the issue of racism in a 21st Century fashion. Old models and arguments no longer work. Despite the relentless and ruthless efforts of Republicans, we will never go back to a plantation society dominated by white men. No one except for a minority of white Republicans wants to go back to that dark, shameful and evil past. No one except them wants the region's schools to continue to rank the lowest in the nation. No one except them wants to continue to over populate the prisons with African American and brown men. No one except them wants to continue to have the highest populations of uninsured residents. No one except them wants to deny fair and deserving economic life lines to the working poor and the impoverished. No one except them fights so hard to deny the right to vote to so many non-white and poor people.
Only governors like Rick Perry want to make the state they govern less likely to be able to compete successfully in a global economy. By appointing right wing extremists and fundamentalists like creationists to top education posts, Perry is is sending an economic death knell to Texas. Somehow Perry thinks he can have it both ways. He wants to attract high tech industries here in order to create more jobs for Texans. But these jobs require technical skills, a college degree and a complex knowledge of science and math, the very subjects in which our children do very poorly. A creationist and/or intelligence design based science curriculum is the kiss of death for Texas children who have an interest in and talent for science. Without the proper scientific foundation, children are set up for sure fired failure in the field. But I've digressed somewhat here and this is a subject for another diary.
Returning to the subject of racism, Frank Rich of the The New York Times reminds us:
What about those far more famous leaders in Hume's own camp who insistently cry “racist” – and in public forums – without any credible justification whatsoever? These are the “certain people” Hume conspicuously didn't mention. They include Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich, both of whom labeled Sonia Sotomayor a racist. Their ranks were joined last week by Glenn Beck, who on Fox News inexplicably labeled Obama a racist with “a deep-seated hatred for white people,” presumably including his own mother.
What provokes their angry and nonsensical cries of racism is sheer desperation: an entire country is changing faster than these white guys bargained for. We've been reminded repeatedly during Gatesgate that Cambridge's mayor is a black lesbian. But a more representative window into the country's transition might be that Dallas County, Tex., elected a Latina lesbian sheriff in 2004 (and re-elected her last year) and that the three serious candidates for mayor of Houston this fall include a black man and a white lesbian.
Even Texas may be tinting blue, and as goes Texas, so will all but the dwindling rural minority of the Electoral College. Last month the Census Bureau released a new analysis of the 2008 presidential election results finding that increases among minority voters accounted for virtually all the five million additional votes cast in comparison to 2004. Black women had a higher turnout rate than any other group, and young blacks turned out at a higher rate than young whites.
Racism is all about fear, a fear that has been woven and beaten into the collective regional psyche by self-serving, self-enriching charlatans and opportunists. And the self-serving and self-enriching are literally terrified by what the future holds for them. It is all about them. It has always been and will always be about them.
One of the loudest birther enablers is not at Fox but CNN: Lou Dobbs, who was heretofore best known for trying to link immigrants, especially Hispanics, to civic havoc. Dobbs is one-stop shopping for the excesses of this seismic period of racial transition. And he is following a traditional, if toxic, American playbook. The escalating white fear of newly empowered ethnic groups and blacks is a naked replay of more than a century ago, when large waves of immigration and the northern migration of emancipated blacks, coupled with a tumultuous modernization of the American work force, unleashed a similar storm of racial and nativist panic.
The rationale for the Republican current use of Village People Populism:
As Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post and Helene Cooper of The Times have pointed out, a lot of today's variation on the theme is class-oriented. Some whites habituated to a monopoly on the upper reaches of American power just can't adjust to the reality that Obama, Sotomayor, Oprah Winfrey and countless others are now at the very pinnacle, and that they might sometimes side with each other just as their white counterparts do. Threatened white elites try to mask their own anxieties by patronizingly adopting working-class whites as their pet political surrogates – Joe the Plumber, New Haven firemen, a Cambridge police officer. Call it Village People populism.
Mr. Rich concludes by reminding us that we have not transcended race. We are not post-racial. We have a long and tough road to hoe before we are even close.
A prime promoter of the GOP fear and smear machine is Fox cable news. Talk show host Glenn Beck is so fearful and desperate that he is actually spinning a conspiracy theory about the current and very successful federal “clunker for cash” program. Beck is trying to scare folks off from trading in their clunkers. I guess if the federal stimulus is working, it is bad news for Glenn Beck and his message of fear and hate.
The program, he says, is an evil plot for the government to take over one's computer.
Don't go there! He cries. Whatever you do, do NOT to the cars.gov web site!
But reality outside the alternative universe of Republicans and their spokesmen like Glenn Beck is totally different.
It seems that a lot of Houstonians are not paying attention to goofy crazed ol' Beck. Looney tune jerks like Beck and Fox always under-estimate the smarts of the American people.
My husband and I stopped in at a Toyota dealership near Reliant Stadium on Saturday. There were so many folks in the showroom that one had to wait to talk to a sales person. Two months ago when we visited the same dealership, there were more sales people available than there were customers.
People sure are excited about getting rid of their old polluting, gas guzzling, rattle trap clunkers. Uncle Sam made us an offer we could not refuse. As the sales guy told us “They're giving us $500-$1500 cars and we're giving them $3500-$4500 toward a new car.” “They would be crazy not to take advantage.” Of course the program is hugely popular and car dealerships are dancing in their nearly empty lots. Boatloads of shiny new metal has disappeared.
But all of this is bad for Glenn and so he must prey upon the fears of the under-educated, the elderly and the uninformed. This is what these self-serving, self-enriching scaredy cat white boys do. (I am white by the way, not that it should matter.)
It is no wonder the Republicans have become a regional rump Party. It is an award it richly deserves, thanks to the politics of hate, fear and divisiveness. The GOP has indeed reaped what it has sown.