A lot has been said about the presidential election that unless the Republicans expand their base of support, the GOP will inevitably slide into irrelevant obscurity, modern-day Whigs, if you will. The GOP is essentially a white person’s political party. Break it down even further, it’s essentially an old man’s whites-only club. Deconstruct it even more, Romney carried the Old South (Dixie) and a few low population western states. It begs the question of how much of the anti-Obama white vote was based on the president being a black?
Racial prejudice is something I’ve never quite understood. It’s interesting that some of the whitest states, Iowa for example (90 percent-plus white), voted for Obama. A majority of white Iowans voted for Obama whereas that was not the case in Southern states. A vast majority of white Mississippians, for example, voted for Romney. Why the difference? Why would Iowans, an overwhelmingly white state, vote for Obama yet a majority of white voters in Mississippi would not?
I believe a percentage of the anti-Obama white vote was based on voter discomfort with having a black man lead the United States. A black president does not validate or confirm “that” voter’s worldview. I think if you pressed such a voter, they would predictably deny racial prejudice.
Of course, there are a myriad of reasons why anyone selects one candidate, one political party over another. I do believe, however, that a candidate’s race does, pardon the pun, “color” some voter’s perspective and how they ultimately vote.
What does any of this mean for the Republican Party winning national (or even statewide) contests? If a vast majority of your party is made up of old white men (and women), future demographics are running against you. The reality is running, contrary to the lyrics that, “Time is on my side, yes it is.” Except it isn’t. Our growing multicultural, ethnically diverse population will not come “running back” to white America. It’s over, white boys.
As a white boy myself, I grew-up in lily-white Iowa. In my hometown of Sioux City in the 1950s and ’60s, there were perhaps, at most, 50 black families. Even during the demonstrations and violence of the Civil Rights movement, race was not a regular topic of discussion around my dinner table. Vietnam was a much more discussed issue because of its potential impact on the family (my brother and I were of draft age).
None of my friends, save my best friend Ron Jones, ever mentioned black people or the challenges they faced. Racial epithets were never thrown around because, I believe, it was not the language we heard in our homes. Not because “we” were better, but because race wasn’t an issue in the community’s face, so to speak. There were no civil rights marches in Sioux City that I ever recall.
In 1974, while back in Sioux City, my father volunteered (out-of-the-blue) something to the effect, “You know, son, I had it wrong. Negroes have had a raw deal in America. They were enslaved and are horribly treated yet today. They are just seeking their due justice. They want to have what the rest of us have.” Amen, Dad.
That didn’t mean he’d have been overjoyed with a black family moving in next door. My father is dead — as will be the GOP if Republicans do not lose their prejudice of minorities, of every color and, as importantly, of every persuasion.