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18 September 2006

What's wrong with Kansas/Connecticut/the Democrats?

Gary Younge is so brilliant. Here is another wonderful commentary he's written in the Guardian, which has the best explanation about how electoral politics work in the US (without getting into the whole "third" party miasma - don't get me started!) This will explain, far better than I ever could, why people who are too poor to pay taxes love the Republicans, why the numbers don't seem to add up in the red state/blue state comparison (hint: they are ignoring someone - could it be? oh, no not again! - black people!!) and, most perplexingly to Brits who know a few Americans, how someone like GW can be elected and even popular.
Some provocative excerpts:

In his book What's The Matter With Kansas?, Thomas Frank described the tendency of working-class people to vote Republican as a form of derangement. He said that the working class had been hoodwinked into voting against its economic interests by "values" issues such as abortion and gay rights. There were two main problems with this argument. . .

So what's the matter with all these analyses? First of all they seem to step over a huge elephant in the room - namely race. There is a reason why we are only talking about white working-class voters: black people, regardless of income, overwhelmingly vote Democrat. Indeed, were it not for black people, the Democrats would have won the presidency only once, in 1964. That was the year President Lyndon Johnson signed the civil rights act, turned to an aide and said: "We have lost the south for a generation." We are well into the second generation now, and the racialised politics of the south seem to be influencing the rest of the country rather than the other way round.

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