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Winning the Politics of Race
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CommonSense's avatar
CommonSense - 9 years ago

The United States of America has and continues to make significant strides in racial equality. On the eve of the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, some may argue the equality gap is miniscule given the fact the country just elected its first black president. With that said, the politics of race are still a dangerous road to travel and still a political game dominated by the Democrats. In my opinion, the Republicans prove time and again that the politics of race are their Kryptonite.  

 Harry Reid’s controversial statements in "Game Change," which is an account of the 2008 campaign by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, the Nevada senator is quoted as describing Obama as having advantages as a result of being "light skinned" and "with no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one."

            Charges from Republicans claim that there is a double standard between the parties and that the remarks were racially insensitive. This was followed by a laughable comparison between the statements of Harry Reid vs. Trent Lott’s statements in 2002 in which he gave praise to Strom Thurmond’s career at a birthday party. 

The Democrats handled the controversy masterfully. Reid, who the book says encouraged Obama's candidacy, apologized for the remarks, the president accepted the apology, the Democrats downplayed the incident and supported their candidate…end of story. 

If the shoe were on the other foot, history has proven the Republicans would have panicked and would have folded like a cheap suit. If Harry Reid were a Republican, he would have been stripped of his leadership role, the media would claim that the Republicans are out of touch with minorities and Harry Reid would never be heard from again. 

The Democrats know this is a weakness of the GOP and that is why they continually claim racism at every opportune moment. Until the Republicans learn not to be shaken by every accusation or throw out ludicrous accusations themselves, they will have no chance of winning this silly yet important game.

 If the Republicans want to ever have a chance of winning this game they must remember three simple rules: 

Rule #1: Handle remarks with objectivity. We all say things that may be controversial and not everyone will agree with. If a reasonable person deems your remarks as a non-issue --then it is. Remember, you will never appease the unreasonable. 

Rule #2: Don’t waste time dealing with non-issues. It takes your focus off your goals and you spend time with issues that do not matter.

Most recently, Democrats tried the race card during the town hall meetings that were disrupted by those supporting the Tea Party movement (which were mainly Libertarians and Independents). The goal was to quite the movement, but it failed miserably because those involved with the Tea Party movement would not be derailed by this unfounded accusation.

Rule #3: Use historical context when appropriate – when you choose poorly it diminishes your credibility to those paying attention.

Trent Lott was accused of racism, but the Republicans were looking for a reason to get rid of him. In fact, there were those inside the Republican Party who took the opportunity as a power grab for their own selfish political gains. People who follow politics know this and the comparison failed to have any credibility.

In comparison, the Democrats used the history of Harry Reid’s pro civil rights voting record. It is hard to argue against facts.

          These are simple yet effective strategies. My hope is that there will be a day in which we can deal with bigotry and racism when it actually happens and we will not have to view the politics of race as a game. But as long as Superman is affected by Kryptonite, you can guarantee Lex Luther will be there to use it against him.  

 This article is written by Mike Callahan of "Common Sense Politics with Mike and Jason." A radio talk show that can be heard on WCHO 105.5 FM and WSRW 1590 AM from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM every Sunday night.


CitizenKane - 2010/01/17 - 21:44:06
Some great advice even for those not in the political arena. Just overall good rules for life.
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