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“I’m Not Racist, I Voted for the White Guy!”: Why Black People are Better Than White People.

August 5, 2010

Before I begin I should introduce myself, I am a peer of the Neoconservatarian. Although we are close friends our politics are almost completely different. It is for that reason that I have chosen the name Socialistocrat, an amalgamation of socialist, democrat, and aristocrat. If I could have fit in intellectual I would have.
Anyway, the thing I delight in more than anything else, besides perhaps feeling indignant or self-righteous, and God damn it do I enjoy that, is following politics. I love local races that have nothing to do with me or where I live. Why? Well probably because I have serious mental problems, but whatever, I love races.
Today, Thursday the 5th, voters in Tennessee’s 9th district go to the polls for their primary. The race to watch is that of two term Congressman Steven Cohen against entrenched Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton. So a two term Congressman is challenged by a mayor, what’s the story in this race? Turns out, it’s race.
You see, despite his constant refrain that he votes like a “black woman,” Cohen is white (no surprise there with a name like Cohen). This seat is in a majority black district and had been represented by a black member of congress from 1975 to 2007. In 2007 Harold Washington Jr. ran for Senate and Cohen won the nomination among a crowded field in which the black vote was split. Two years later, again facing black opposition, Cohen won again. Now he’s facing a political opponent who has run Memphis politics for years, is an institution with a large base and constituency, who has made the entire election about race and the fact that there is not one member of the Tennessee delegation who is black, and Cohen is going to win again.
That’s right, the polls are showing its not even close. Cohen has racked up One-million dollars in fundraising and the endorsements of President Obama, civil rights leader Representative John Lewis, and many influential members of the Black Caucus. Steve White has managed to transcend race, and black voters are looking past the color of his skin to the content of his character. Am I racist for being impressed?
I saw a black electorate choose Ben Cardin over Michael Steele in my home state in 2006, but I think it would be natural to choose a qualified politician based on a shared heritage. I’d sooner vote for a Jew because I am Jewish. I wouldn’t do it blindly, I’d never vote for Eric Cantor and I didn’t support Arlen Specter, but given a choice of two candidates I like, I’d choose the one more similar to myself. And for the most part, this has been the trend. There are only two districts with more that 60% black populations that have non-black Representatives. Cohen and Joseph Cao, who was elected because the black incumbent was indicted. And it should be said that leaves 10 districts with less than majority black populations that have elected black Representatives, but mostly we vote for our own in America.
I like Steven Cohen a lot, I think he is a good Congressman and a good guy (hell, he went on the Colbert Report) but the guy who vacated his seat went on to lose in a Senate election that was all about black versus white. There was a disgusting add implying that Harold Washington Junior would essentially “steal white women.” It was a campaign that made me ashamed to be white (add it to the long list). So, if I lived in Tennessee’s 9th I’d want that one black member of the Congressional Delegation. Still, its stories like this that give us bleeding-heart post-racial socialisotcrats hope. Sorry for the ridiculously long post. Go here for a better story.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Aptronym permalink
    August 12, 2010 12:02 am

    I finally got a chance to read through this, and I must say that I’m impressed. That was well-written, and I hope that you guest-write more in the future. After I’d parsed the unfamiliar names (it should be “Steve Cohen” not “Steve White” in the fifth paragraph, by the way), I got to the actual content, and I have to say that I mostly agree with what you’re saying here. Ignoring politics, posturing, and backing for a moment, I like to see candidates for whom race is not an issue. This goes for any politician and not just Mr. Cohen.

    I differ from you slightly, though, in that I think race should play little to no role in politics, but this point requires a bit of explanation and clarification. To begin with, I do believe in the tendency of groups (and more specifically, racial groups) to “stick with their own,” so to speak. This is a biological tendency, dating back to tribal mechanics, and it’s fine as long as it doesn’t lead to animosity, racism, or prejudice. (In other words, hang out with the people like you if that’s where you feel comfortable, but don’t let your commonality close your mind to other types of people.) This partially explains the tendency for groups to “vote for their own”; people believe that someone like them will best be able to represent them.

    The problem here is that race is used as a shortcut for (for lack of a better term) socioeconomic similarity. Treating politics as solely about representation, it’s true that there are groups of people that need political representation, and that the interests of these groups will usually be looked after the best by one of the group’s own. If such a group is predominantly a given race, then it also follows that a representative from among them will most likely be of that race. But their race is not what makes them a part of that group; it is incidental of it.

    (Note that for political purposes, defining groups according to race is foolhardy. The government does not control culture, but it does control the factors that affect various socioeconomic groups. Unless the goal is to institutionalize separation according to race, the definition of political groups should remain political factors.)

    Furthermore, confusing cause and effect when it comes to race and socioeconomic representation leads to even more damage, as it opens up the playing field for candidates to bring race into the debate. That has the makings of racial warfare, and all because of the misconception that race is the cause of similarity on issues relevant to politics, not the probabilistically favored outcome of it. In other words, “vote for your own”, but make sure that you’re defining “your own” using the categorizations that matter.

    As a side note, why should you be ashamed to be white? Did you make those ads? Did you go around supporting them? Then why on Earth should you feel guilty? The proper response should be anger or offense, not the urge to apologize for someone else’s sins. That’s how you’d respond if you weren’t white, isn’t it? So why does it matter that you are?

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