Diversity Is Strength! It`s Also…A Lot Of Problems For Democrats (Richly Deserved)
Fifty two weeks ago, I
pointed out that the Democrats` winning 2008
strategy–positioning Barack Obama to
as the black candidate, to
Hispanics as the minority candidate, and to
whites as the postracial candidate–did not make for a
long-term stable political strategy.
To quote me:
"A black-led four-race coalition is an inherently fragile thing." [Sailer
Strategy Supplement: Rebrand Democrats As The Black Party,
October 04, 2009]
have to congratulate me. Subsequent electoral events in the
heart of the political universe–the District of Columbia,
Maryland, and Virginia–are proving these inherent
I was recently asked by a political
savant: How could the Republicans survive in the future when
the electorate is significantly more nonwhite? I replied:
do they survive in the South today?" The answer, of
course: by winning a larger share of the white vote–just as
Democrats win a
huge share of the black vote all across the country.
He briefly expressed surprise at this
concept, then conceded that this, indeed, is
things work in the largest region of the country.
But how enthusiastic, he asked, will the
growing number of non-black minority voters be about a
Republican Party that wins a large fraction of white votes?
What we might
laughingly call the
Republican brain trust has been terrified that, in the
Asian and Hispanic votes, the GOP might be
seen as the White Party. But the downside for the
Democrats of being seen as the Black Party are less
discussed, although they are potentially much worse. After
all, immigrants had their reasons for moving to a
white-run country like the U.S. rather than to a
black-run country like
immigrant ethnic elites will align with the Democrats.
But that doesn`t mean their putative followers will vote the
way they are told. With Asians and Hispanics, there`s always
a high likelihood that they
just won`t bother to vote.
point: Political trends in the Washington D.C. metropolitan
area–of special interest since it represents a Best Case
Scenario for Obama Era Democrats.
As imperial and economic power has been
consolidated in the federal government since the 1930s, the
Washington metropolitan area, long reviled by foreign
ambassadors as a humid, dull backwater, has grown vastly in
wealth and talent. For example, the DC Metro Area now leads
the country in percentage of
residents with college degrees (47
percent), well ahead of
Valley with 43 percent. (Riverside,
CA is last in the U.S. with 19 percent.)
In theory, the region should be a
Democratic electoral utopia. Almost everybody is either a
government employee or the relative or neighbor of a
government employee. There`s a
large, politically sophisticated black population,
including one of the country`s biggest black middle classes.
Wealth has attracted a large number of immigrants from Asia,
Africa, and Latin America.
Moreover, the economy has been relatively strong in the
Washington area. (See the September 30, 2010, article in the
Washington job growth third-best in nation.
by Jeff Clabaugh) So the Democrats` current all-purpose
excuse that they are just experiencing a little in-flight
turbulence is less applicable here.
… things aren`t working out quite so well in the Washington
area as Democratic strategists would figure.
The first regional symptom appeared in
November 2009. The state of Virginia, which had given 53
percent of its vote to Obama the year before, suddenly
Bob McDonnell governor with 59 percent. The white share
of votes went up from
70 percent in 2008 to
78 percent in 2009, and their devotion to the GOP
increased from 60 percent to 67 percent. Non-black
minorities dropped from 10 percent to 6 percent of the
okay, that`s Virginia, a traditionally Republican state. But
what about enlightened Maryland?
A reader recently alerted me to trends in
Montgomery County, Maryland, just north of D.C., home to
Chevy Chase and other elegant suburbs. It`s the eighth
wealthiest county in the country and perhaps the best
educated: 29 percent of adults claim advanced degrees. Obama
won 71.5 percent of the vote in 2008. By 2009, the
population was down to
52 percent non-Hispanic white (It`s 18 percent black, 16
percent Hispanic, 14 percent Asian).
Montgomery County is Democratic Nirvana.
Or it ought to be–except that as it gets
more diverse, it gets less engaged with public affairs. The
reader pointed me to a September 16, 2010 post in the
On Montgomery County`s Plummeting Turnout. Even in
this extremely politicized locale, turnout in the September
14th Maryland primary dropped to a new record low of only 15
percent of voting age residents. Montgomery County Democrats
just couldn`t be bothered to turn out and vote in
2010–especially in nonwhite districts.
there`s the District of Columbia itself, where the recent
mayor`s race disillusioned many white liberals. And there
sure are a lot of them in D.C. The 2008 exit poll had Obama
winning 86-12 in Washington …
Washington D.C. features the most liberal whites in
captivity. Yet, as the acrimonious D.C. mayoral election of
September 14th illustrated, the white-black political
division within the city is rising to another peak.
some background: the Constitution makes Congress the
ultimate authority in the District.
During the Kennedy Administration, Alabama
governor George Wallace would
taunt Jack and
Bobby for demanding more black electoral power in Southern
states than the Kennedys were willing to allow in D.C.,
where they lived. Wallace challenged JFK:
think the American people should have a right to look at the
city of Washington bein` controlled by its local
inhabitants, and therefore, because
just like to see what would happen, I think you ought to
have home rule."[Wallace,
By Marshall Frady(1968) P. 167]
The federal leadership, which
had to work in D.C., however, was in less of a hurry to
carry out that experiment. Congress didn`t take Wallace up on his challenge
until December 24, 1973 when it passed the
District of Columbia Home Rule Act allowing for limited
local governance. The
first District of Columbia mayor was the aptly named
Walter Washington, who took office on January 2, 1975.
Generally, the first generation of black
mayors in black majority cities tended to be cautious,
respectable souls, like
Tom Bradley of Los Angeles (1973-1993). But they were
soon followed by the
Marion Barry, who was elected mayor of D.C. in 1979.
this notorious event could be considered a coup by the
federal government to rid itself of a troublesome mayor is
one of those questions that isn`t discussed in polite
circles. D.C. voters, however, felt strongly enough about it
return Barry to the Mayor`s office in 1994.
The Feds put in place a
financial control board in 1995 to keep Barry from
running amok. Moreover, federal agencies have long been
expanding their departmental police forces, especially after
9/11 in the name of fighting terrorism. The number of
uniformed men with guns on the streets of D.C. increased and
crime started to fall.
crack wars have died down and the crime rate has dropped
since Barry`s heyday. So the white share of the D.C.
population began to rise again. Blacks with good government
jobs had long been leaving for the suburbs. Immigrants,
including Africans, whom hospitality employers found
generally more amenable than African-Americans, increasingly
squeezed out D.C.`s black underclass. (Compare the
trajectories of Washington and
Baltimore in recent years.)
last decade, D.C. was becoming among the most fashionable
destinations for young white singles. But, once they stopped
being single, who could afford to stay in D.C. rather than
move to Montgomery or another suburban county?
The central complaint of young white
liberals became D.C.`s schools, which were not only full of
black students, but were administered by
black bureaucrats for the benefit of black bureaucrats.
D.C. whites compared the local black-run public school
system to Chicago and New York, where Mayors
Richie Daley and
Michael Bloomberg had seized control of the schools and
installed dynamic white administrators,
Joel Klein, respectively, to shake up the systems.
Publicly, nobody ever quite put it in terms quite that
blunt—everybody hand-waved about
it was hard to avoid thinking that way.
Let`s do the math. Say you are typical
nice white engaged couple in D.C., one with a federal job,
the other with a media job. You wouldn`t dream of sending
your future kids to a mostly black school after puberty, but
you think that public education
ought to get them through K-5. If D.C., however, can`t provide even
decent public elementary schools, though, that comes right
out of your net worth. Now, Sidwell Friends, where the
Obamas send their children, costs $31,000 per year. But,
say, you could find a low end private school charging only
$12,000 annually. Well, six years times two children times
$12,000 equals $144,000.
Yet if D.C. public elementary schools
improved enough so that lots of other nice white people like
you become willing to send their kids to them, not only
would you save $144,000 in private school tuition, but your
property would appreciate in value–because now your condo
comes with "good
Not surprisingly, the national press was
excited in 2007 when new D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty, a yuppie
black, appointed as school chancellor the energetic and
ambitious Korean-American Michelle Rhee. (She`s the heroine
of the current much-lauded documentary
Waiting for "Superman.")
If Rhee could actually clean out the Augean Stables of the
D.C. schools, she could literally provide many in the
national press with a financial windfall. So when she fired
a large number of teachers for underperforming, the white
press was ecstatic.
Black voters were not ecstatic with Rhee,
however. According to Paul Schwarzman and Chris L. Jenkins
of the Washington Post in
How D.C. Mayor Fenty lost the black vote – and his job
[September 18, 2010]:
"…blacks also see
the school system as a primary employer, providing jobs to
thousands of teachers, school bus drivers, administrators
and secretaries. When Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee laid off
hundreds of teachers, many blacks saw … an assault on
So in the 2010 Democratic primary, Fenty
was defeated by veteran black city councilman Vince Gray
"Fenty won 53 of the
city`s majority-white census tracts but only 10 of those
that are predominantly black. Gray, in contrast, captured
108 majority-black census tracts and just five that are
"Rhee got her
overrated fame. Now…scam!!! Scat!! …
"She`s a consultant,
folks. Nothing more….she just happens to be Asian;
something we haven`t seen before, and folks think that means
she has created the "Suzuki Method" or something. It`s
amazing how much credit a person can get for firing Black
professionals. I mean…the chick fires Black folks and ends
up on the cover of TIME magazine as courageous?"
black-led four-race coalition idea … it`s still got a few
kinks to work out, doesn`t it?
Republicans should despair less over how they can survive
and think more about how they deserve to survive.