Behavior Economics

Democratic Electoral Malady, Diagnosis: White Racial Animus!

I’ve been struck by the rhetoric in the lefty media, social and otherwise, that I follow. I’m struck by just how wrong their diagnosis of the problems Democrats are having is. A good diagnosis leads to a good treatment. A good treatment leads to a good outcome. However, if we start with a misdiagnosis, we greatly diminish our chances of reaching a good outcome, so it behooves us to get the diagnosis right.

Examples of the misdiagnosis proliferate but they all seem to boil down to two kinds (if you’ve got another kind, please let us know in the comments):

IT’S A LACK OF COURAGE: Many bemoan the lack of a spine or courage amongst the rank and vile in the GQP Congress people to stand up for democracy.

The problem with this assessment of the causes of the GQP attack on our democracy is that it assumes there are still people in the GQP who want democracy, and under the right circumstances, they will stand up for it. There aren’t, and they won’t under any circumstances because they no longer want democracy. They want minority rule.

The diagnosis is wrong, so the prescription and treatment are wrong. It isn’t about persuading those who secretly oppose what is happening to get a heaping dose of political courage as if it were some common panacea like castor oil. The GQP has plenty of political courage. They have the courage to drown our democracy in the backed-up toilet effluent of their totalitarian dreams. We have to address that as the problem, not some mythical spinelessness.

IT’S A MESSAGING PROBLEM: The panty-waste white people are offended by all of our “wokeness” and “political correctness” and allowing MEN to be in the women’s bathrooms and MEN to compete in women’s sport and insisting on treating undocumented immigrants humanely and allowing 847 different sexual orientations and using pronouns people prefer and negativity about “whiteness” and calling people “Karen” and grabbing people’s guns and defunding the police and escorting all the newly minted minority groups to the front of the line for the American dream ahead of all the hardworking patient white people who are just longing for their bite at that brass ring!

Gawd! If ding-dang-dumb libels would just dismount their ivy towers long enough to smell the white flowers, they might win themselves more than just the 43% of the white vote that they did in the 2020 election because white people have proven election in and election out that you either pitch your political message to their special emotional needs or you can get the fuck out.

There is a messaging problem in the Democratic Party, though. It just isn’t that one.

The Real Diagnosis

Our democracy is in real fucking trouble. It’s more trouble than just having a black guy walking behind you at night on a dark city street. It is more than having a Latino cable repair person come to your house! It is more than having a transperson peeing next to you in the public toilet. It’s real live demonstrable trouble that will result in the death of our democracy unless we do something about it.

The question is how do we get the 57% of white Americans who voted for four more years of Trump and the GQP in the 2020 election to be more worried about the fate of our democracy than they are about the browning of America. If you’ve diagnosed the problem as anything other than the response of white Americans to the racist dog whistles and tropes coming out the GQP since Nixon went all Southern Strategy on us, then we are sure to lose our democracy.

Constructing Reality

We see what we want to see, and by-and-large white America wants to see us as being just fine, the world’s number 1, and American exceptionalism. They don’t want to see the brutal reality that affects so many in the country and world, so, meh, they won’t.

  • TROUBLE VOTING IN THE BLACK PARTS OF TOWN? That’s not racism; that’s not discrimination; that’s those Black folk just not living right. After all, it was easy to vote at my lily-white precinct, so it must be easy for anyone with a lick of sense to vote over there in tHeIrS.
  • ELECTION OFFICIALS REPLACED BY THE STATE’S LEGISLATURE and votes from the Black districts not allowed? There must be something wrong, or they wouldn’t be doing it, right? You know, where there’s smoke, there’s fire, even if it is the GQP legislature dipping their dry ice in the black water again to blow smoke up my lily-white ass, after all, America is the world’s leading democracy, to think otherwise would be unpatriotic.

We construct our reality out of our direct experience with our environment and through the opinions and beliefs of those around us. As long as everything seems okay in our little corner of the world — remember kids, the average income of the average white Trump voter was $72,000.00 per year in the 2020 election, and that buys you a lot of okay — then it is okay in everyone’s corner of the world because we literally believe that we are average.

Seeing is Believing

If what you’re consuming as news and information comes from Fox News, your Bible study group, or your social media, then you’re not likely to see the stark reality that so many in our country suffer from. Since we’re not seeing 800,000+ corpses piling up in the streets, then the #COVID19 pandemic can’t be that bad, can it? If it were bad, we’d be seeing sick and dying people, right?

THE 6 JANUARY INSURRECTION. A good example of this phenomenon can be found in who insurrected at the Capitol on 6 January of last year: Fifty-two percent of the insurrectionists were from counties that Biden won. What did those counties have in common? They all have declines in the white non-Hispanic populations. Declines that the white people living there are painfully aware of.

They looked around and saw the decline of white people and their status and it was that proverbial come-to-Jesus moment when the Eurika! lightbulb went off. It’s true. The Blacks and Browns are taking over America.

They put two and two together: We had a Black president. We had massive protests against police brutality in George Floyd’s death, so it must be that they are coming for our women and guns.!Ergo, presto, sum cum loud, we really are losing our country, and we really must take it back! So, they packed their bags and went to DC to do them some insurrecting.

WHITE PRIVILEGE is the perfect example of this type of reasoning. White people say, what do you mean white privilege?!? I’ve worked HARD for what I’ve got. I earned it. Ain’t no such thing as white privilege. No way. No how.

White folks react this way because they see their little corner of the world, and in that corner, they did work hard. They had their loses and defeats, so how could it be that they have had any white privilege? Of course they didn’t. It is a plain truth apparent to all except the lying ding-dang-dumb libels trying to sneak lazy gud-fer-nuthin’ Black and Brown folks into the American-dream line ahead of them! It is the lie they tell to justify their persecution of good rural conservative Christian white voters.

Of course, white people have had impediments to their “successes.” Of course, they’ve had obstacles and troubles to overcome. The one obstacle that they haven’t had to overcome, though, was racism both overt and covert and systematic and direct.

They never will have to contend with it, and that’s the problem. Black people live with racism everyday. White people never do. But if reality is built upon our daily experience and the beliefs and opinions of those around us and none of our experiences and none of the beliefs and opinions of those around us includes experiences of racism, then our reality doesn’t include racism either. Conclusion: racism doesn’t play a role in success in America.

In Arlie Hochschild’s terms: White people are saying, if I couldn’t succeed with the benefits of white privilege, then I really am an abject failure and worse than the average Black person. To cope with the shame of my failure, I need to engage in some cognitive dissonance and ignore any privilege and tell myself the comforting lie that problems Black people have is because they are Black not because of white society and culture.

Protecting Democracy

You expect the 57% of white people who voted for Trump in 2020 to protect your right to vote? Think fucking again. You expect these white people to realize that the 2022 and 2024 elections will all be a sham? Think fucking again.

You expect these white people to “woke” up and smell the lily white on their asses and reject the sweet siren song of dog whistling racists that have been seducing them with since Nixon? Think fucking again!

Are we really going to base winning the 2022 elections on peeling off enough of those whites who are susceptible to the dog whistles? Is it really worth the effort and risk to try to attend to their fragile feelings as they watch their goddamned racist deep culture slip away like an unvaccinated mask-eschewing ivermectin-taking #COVID19 patient on a ventilator in the ICU. Is the slim possibility that we could convince a percentage point or two of them to vote Blue really worth taking or should we focus on trying to win back the Latinx vote and energize the Black, women, and progressive votes?

That’s the freaking question. Let me know your thoughts on it in the comments.

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Image Attribution

“Predictive vs. Descriptive vs. Prescriptive Analytics” by deepakiqlect is licensed under CC BY 2.0

17 replies »

  1. Hello Jack. On the Sunday news shows talking about race and CRT I heard a few white people saying teaching white kids about things that would make them uncomfortable or feel bad about being white was unacceptable, so we needed these anti-CRT / anti-real history laws. But not once did these same white people mention how racism and bigotry in daily life can make children of color uncomfortable or feel bad about being black. It was all about the feelings of the white adults and then white children. It took having POC guests to even mention how things were affecting black students and families. Scottie

    Liked by 2 people

    • Howdy Scottie!

      Those shows drive me nuts for just those reasons. For the sake of my blood pressure, I quit watching them. The thing is, it isn’t hard to realize that the “feeling bad about” is a two-way street. It doesn’t take much for white people to realize that PoC have been feeling bad about their race for a very long time.

      It just goes to show that once you’ve been elevated, you don’t want to give it up.


      Liked by 2 people

  2. living in a deeply red state I hear the comments made by the whiter-than-whites who are afraid. They seriously believe that democrats are all trying to have black and brown people live better, make more money have more benefits than whites. They are all deathly afraid. If democrats want to win anything at all, they need to give up the idea that these whites (the 57%ers) will ever change how they vote, and get the blacks, browns, etc etc etc on their side and VOTE. The only way to deal with this sort of mass fear is to actually bring about the changes they are so f’ing afraid of and eventually they will see that their own lives are better because of it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Howdy Suze!

      It is a frightening picture you paint. One problem with the expat life is that you get so little from the communities back home. My peers here tend to be better educated and more liberal. The ones who aren’t liberal don’t talk too openly about their views. Yet, somehow, racist and sexist remarks still surface even from those with more liberal leanings. Ours is usually in the context of the locals just don’t do it right.

      The problem with enacting the changes that they are afraid of is that they are directly dependent on democracy. I think that the democracies that have devolved into authoritarianism have done so on the basis of a large controlling minority or bare majority group seizing power and eroding the democratic institutions on the basis of stopping the demographic changes with the added benefit of enriching the elite off the backs of middle class and poor no matter their group allegiance.

      The ability of groups to spin their interpretation of major events to suit their political needs is astonishing. Our bubbles of like-minded communities whether online or in real life can reinforce our perception of news to such a degree that we’ve got groups willing to die of #COVID19 rather than take an effective and safe vaccine or allow effective safe medical procedures to end unintended and unwanted pregnancies and take effective steps to diminish gun violence. In all cases, they’d rather die, live in poverty, and be at higher risk of serious chronic illness, suicide, and early death than do what is necessary to help themselves live better lives.


      Liked by 2 people

  3. Would enacting Build Back Better, even in it’s largest version, convince enough of that 57% that democracy and Democrats are good for them? Maybe, but not if they see it as helping those other people more. Perhaps that is what Joe Manchin is telling us with his opposition, and his saying that “they” will just spend the Child Tax Credit on drugs. What really pissed off the GOP about Bill Clinton was his ability to dog whistle out of both sides of his mouth and get away with it.

    Another misdiagnosis: It’s not about Trump. It is about White. Trump is about White. Which doesn’t change the fact that he and his co-conspirators need to go to jail.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Howdy Bob!

      I go back to something that the sociologist Arlie Hochschild pointed out in the myths section of her book, “Strangers in Their Own Land,” on the conservative white voters of Southern Louisiana. Among the false beliefs that these people hold is the idea that government support goes disproportionately to PoC. So, they’ll see the child tax credit exactly as Manchin does, allowing PoC to access drugs and alcohol and live more comfortable lives than they deserve or have earned. They also don’t access the government services that are available to them. I forget the exact statistic, but in Louisiana it is like 1 in 10 people who qualify for government services actually uses them. Even if BBB passes and lots of white people benefit from it, like Medicare and social security retirement, they won’t see it as government aide. They won’t credit the Democrats for it like my grandmother did FDR. Maybe enough on the margins will to sway the election. We can only hope that the Dems get enough of the messaging right to do so.

      From the get go, Trump’s success has been tied to whiteness and the backlash against the demographic changes of the country. He was able to ride that wave better than his competitors.

      Another part of the diagnosis is that the Democrats are too timid. They need to pick a path and commit to it wholeheartedly. That path needs to be enacting an agenda that directly benefits Black, Brown, Asian, and Native American communities and appeals to progressive whites. They need to couch this agenda in patriotic terms in order to appeal to white voters.


      Liked by 2 people

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