Do whites in the Deep South vote
Republican more often because they are racists?
A recent article in The New
Republic entitled “Why
does the GOP control the South? In a word, racism"
(November 29, 2006) by
[email him] claimed, "the
South votes Republican because the Republicans have
perfected their appeal to Southern racism …"
A quick historical reality check
reveals an obvious problem with this theory: back during
Jim Crow days, the Solid South voted Democratic—but
the more decades that have passed since the
end of segregation, the
more Republican the South has become.
Perlstein attempts to justify his
theory by citing a study published in the American
Journal of Political Science by political scientists
Nicholas Valentino and David Sears, "Old
Times There Are Not Forgotten: Race and Partisan
Realignment in the Contemporary South." They
show that in the South, white voters` views on blacks
are more salient to how they vote in national elections
than in other parts of the country.
Over the past few years
blacks have gotten less than they deserve.
It`s really a matter of some
people not trying hard enough; if blacks would only
try harder they could be just as well off as whites.
Generations of slavery and
discrimination have created conditions that make it
difficult for blacks to work their way out of the
lower class. (Southerners disagree).
Occam`s Razor, however, suggests a simpler
explanation: the reason whites` views about blacks are
more relevant to how they vote in, say, conservative
Mississippi than in liberal Vermont is because blacks
have far more political power in Mississippi than in
Race is more relevant in the voting
booth in direct proportion to the racial diversity of
the electorate. In elections in the South today, race is
the single biggest factor determining who votes for
whom, black or white, Republican or Democrat, precisely
because there is a very large
black voting bloc that votes uniformly Democratic
Gore over Bush in the 2000 election). Both races
vote to advance their own interests. If whites in
the South didn`t vote almost as much as a bloc as blacks
do, they`d lose.
That`s how elections work in
racially diverse polities.
In contrast, in liberal Vermont,
whitest state in the Union, race is not salient
because blacks have virtually no political power.
Instead, what drives voting behavior in Vermont is in
large part intra-white competition. Many Vermonters
pride themselves on their moral and cultural superiority
horrible racist white Southerners. Of course, the
white Southerners choose, oddly enough, to live around
large numbers of blacks—unlike Vermonters, many of whom
moved to Vermont from
New York City and other big cities. Fleeing to
monocultural Vermont helps the
Ben & Jerry types maintain the purity of their
liberal faith in multiculturalism.
Of course, there are large
black populations in Northern cities. But the big voting
difference between Republican whites in the South and
Democratic whites in big cities is that the Southern
whites are less hypocritical. They vote Republican at
all levels. In contrast, northern urban white Democrats,
especially those with children, will frequently vote
along racial lines in local elections to keep their
police department out of
black hands, just like whites in Mississippi do. But
then the Northern whites will indulge their feelings of
ethical superiority over those horrible, racist
Southerners by voting Democratic at the national level,
where racial issues are more symbolic.
In New York City, just one term of
a black mayor way back in 1989-1993 has caused white New
Yorkers, those paragons of liberalism at the national
level, to elect Republican candidates mayor in four
David Dinkins was criticized for his poor handling
of the events, and the turmoil proved to be a key issue
in the next New York City mayoral election, contested in
1993 as a rematch between incumbent David Dinkins
Rudolph Giuliani, whom Dinkins had narrowly defeated
four years earlier. On
1993, a huge rally was held outside
City Hall in downtown
Manhattan, the primary focus of which was
out-of-control criminal violence in general (which the
Dinkins administration was viewed by the rally`s
attendees as being indifferent towards) and continued
bitterness over the events in Crown Heights from two
years earlier in particular; and several speakers at the
rally, including mayoral candidate Giuliani and a
Brooklyn-based Caribbean-American community activist,
Roy Innis, even went so far as to label the Crown
Heights episode a
pogrom. Giuliani won the election, and subsequent
polls showed that a significant shift in the Jewish vote
1989 was a contributing factor in his victory."
This does not, however, mean that
New Yorkers started voting Republican at the national
level. Heavens no! That would be racist! (John Kerry won
82 percent in 2004 in Manhattan.)
Similarly, in Chicago, the GOP
candidate for mayor normally got less than 10% of the
vote … when running against a white Democrat, that is.
In 1983, however, black ex-con
Harold Washington slipped through the three-way
Democratic primary against two Irish candidates, the
incumbent Jane Byrne and the not-yet ready crown prince
Richie Daley, son of the long-time mayor Richard J.
Daley. So, in the general election, an absolutely
unknown GOP candidate,
Bernie Epton, a moody gent who had done a couple of
stints in a mental hospital, won over 80 percent of the
white vote—just missing the 85 percent he needed to
become a Republican mayor in the home of the most fabled
Following Washington`s death,
whites retook control of the Democratic Party. Daley has
been elected Mayor five times in a row.
In Los Angeles, where blacks always
made up a much smaller fraction of the electorate,
Tom Bradley, a moderate, responsible black, won five
straight mayoral elections from 1973-1989, back when the
city was more Republican-voting at the national level
than it is now. Yet, after the vast black riot of 1992,
the now highly-liberal city gave two strong mandates to
Republican Richard Riordan in the 1993 and 1997
In Washington D.C., blacks have an
overwhelming majority, which allows the election of
prize political specimens like Mayor/Crack Hound Marion
Barry. White residents respond by not raising families
there. The lifetime total fertility rate for white women
in D.C. is just
1.1 babies, and many of those new mothers move to
Virginia or Maryland when their child is old enough to
city of Detroit has a very strange, wild appearance, in
some parts like a city of ruins many years older than it
actually is, where nature reasserts itself in vegetation
that spreads over the city`s crumbling structures.
Detroit is far greener than most major cities, as seen
in the runaway vines swarming old mansions in Brush
Park, trees sprouting from the rooftops of skyscrapers,
tallgrass fields encircling the lone house still
standing on a residential block, and abandoned homes
swallowed by shrubs thriving unchecked.”
I look forward to Perlstein
declaring that Democrats shouldn`t pursue the votes of
all those white racist Democrats in the North who vote
Republican in the elections that actually count!
Here`s the lesson for immigration
policy: if you don`t want to exacerbate voting along
racial lines, then don`t increase racial diversity