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Opening Arguments

Race and politics

Our front page last night featured two ideas that we're probably going to hear a lot about in the coming months. The first, in a Kevin Leininger column, is the notion that Barack Obama's election to the presidency will take race off the national table:

. . . Barack Obama's victory signaled the long-overdue demise of the type of divisive racial politics Jackson, Al Sharpton and others have perfected over the past several decades - the kind built on the premise that America is a hopelessly racist country that refuses to give minorities a chance to succeed.

[. . .]

Does America really need to grant preferences to members of supposedly disadvantaged groups when a black man has just won the nation's highest office the old-fashioned way: by earning it, fair and square?

The second, in an interview with Rep. Mark Souder, is the belief that Republicans and conservatives are going to be in for a rough time:

If Republicans are to continue to mean anything, they have to present a clear, conservative alternative to moderate or liberal policy approaches. That means taking strong stands - raising a “voice of responsible opposition,” as Souder puts it - on issues ranging from taxes to national security to taxation.

But if the party veers so far right that turns into an ineffectual echo chamber of conservative arguments, it's probably going to become still more marginalized.

Well, allow me to be contrarian for a moment (shocking, I know).

On race, it's true that Obama's election is a milestone. It'll be some time before we figure out all it means, if we ever do, but I don't think it's going to miraculously untangle the knots we've made of race in this country. We're still going to have people who think we've completely solved our racial problems and those who see racism in every word and gesture. We're still going to have racists of all colors and those who will exploit race for their own reasons. I think the most we can hope for is that Obama helps us change the nature of the conversation. As for the kind of affirmative action Kevin is talking about, it's true that there is no logical reason for it, but then there never was. Those who advocate it must be in a perpetual state of cognitive dissonance. Making decisions on the basis of race is wrong, wrong, wrong, except when we want to do it, in which case it's right. There's no moral high ground at all there.

On politics, Souder is right that conservatives and Republicans are going to have a tough time in Congress. But there is also opportunity, as there always is for the group on the outs in the ebb and flow of politics, to refocus and re-energize. It can be done well (as in the Goldwater defeat leading to the Reagan revolution) or poorly, as in the Gingrich revolution that fell apart  when Republicans discovered it was fun to spend as much of other's people's money as the Democrats did. Conservative and libertarian ideas aren't dead; they've just been discredited, in large part because of the anti-conservative and -libertarian instincts of the Republican who has occupied the White House for eight years. Democrats will now control everything, so they can't blame Republicans for anything. That should give the GOP at least two years and maybe four to regroup without distractions. If they latch on to a national star, perhaps Sarah Palin, they can probably rescue the social conservatives. The libertarians will be the tougher part of the coalition to get back -- they've been leaving in droves.


William Larsen
Fri, 11/07/2008 - 1:06pm

Conservative and libertarian veiws are not dead, just the contrary. The problem is those who actually understand the problem cannot explain it to the majority in 60 second sound bites and the some newspapes like to write about negative campaign adds and not the positions of candidates.

If a candidate does not conform to the news medias agenda or issues, they will ignore the candidate.

Bush and republicans like Souder created the mess we have. They had the opportunity to turn this country around, but they spent like there was no end, maybe not on social agendas, but conservative agendas. They created the $700 billion deficit of 2008. They help pass 51 years of deficit spending. They help spend $9.33 Trillion that they borrowed from other entities.

They help perpetuate the myth that government can solve problems by creating a government agency and dolling money out to special interests. The increase in the National debt has led to a much lower bid ratio on US Treasuries. This also led to devaluation of the dollar among world currencies, which led ultimately to record oil prices, which shoved the US into recession if not worse. Now these same individuals are trying to figure out how to fix the economy they messed up.

I gave it a good try. Thanks to all who helped and supported me.

Bob G.
Fri, 11/07/2008 - 1:21pm

Regarding your perspective on politics and media agenda...got one word to say:
You nailed it.

And there were some of us that thought you were the better of the three (you were the only one that presented tangible FACTS and FIGURES instead of sniping at one another's ads)...

Someday, the rest of the people will wake up.


Fri, 11/07/2008 - 7:34pm

Actually, I could see the Libertarians becoming the viable party and the GOP going down as a sinking ship and taking with it the fanatical social conservatives who have alienated everybody else. Gurgle, gurgle. Music to my ears.

tim zank
Fri, 11/07/2008 - 8:17pm

Bill, I voted for you. I think you espouse good, sound, common sense ideas. I would differ with you on the reason(s) you lost.

It's not necessarily your libertarian ideas, it's the fact that the libertarian party still carries with it an enormous amount of dysfunction and "out of the main stream" ideals.

The dream of a third party is just that, a dream. Take your voice and move it to the closest thing you can find that suits your ideals, i.e. repubs...

It ain't a perfect world, will never be a perfect world, and unfortunately it all boils down to compromise. So don't sell yourself to a constituency that you can never serve, rather sell your self to a party that can actually get you elected so you can implement the ideals you hold dear.

Anybody who has ever had a job knows the art of compromise to some degree, or they don't keep that job. Politics is no different, you gotta find a way to GET there if you really want to make a difference.

Good luck to you, I'll vote for you again (unless you really screw up, ha!) !!!