Polls without Historical Knowledge Equals Misleading Conclusions on the Role of Race



I watch a lot of political news on cable TV.  I even watch Fox TV; mostly just to listen to the idiocy of their take on American politics.  (It's funny to listen to them deny they are a network that pushes conservative views.  I pride myself on knowing something about the USA and its politics and it's so obvious that they are what they deny they are, that I just have to laugh at them.)  I prefer a liberal take on politics because it is a little closer to the truth separate from the liberal/conservative political divide in American politics.  But I find that the liberal pollsters and pundits like the conservative ones love to deny the importance of race in America.   (The country is divided into blue and red states with the red states being mostly the old Confederacy during the Civil War and the rural areas of the mid-west.  And this very division between red and blue states is based primarily on the race issue.  It's a divide that goes back as far as the time of the creation of this country and even before that.)

But here's the logic of the liberals denying the importance of race.  They take a state like Kentucky and they find that the whites do not vote in any lower percentages for Barack Obama than they did for John Kerry in 2004 and Al Gore in 2000.  Therefore they conclude, the race impact is not better or worse compared to other elections.

On the face of it the statement is somewhat true.  But it misses the larger truth.  The truth is that when Presidents Kennedy and Johnson passed a great deal of civil rights legislation that helped the cause of blacks and other minorities, the whites in the states of the Confederacy abandoned the Democratic Party for the Republican Party, which then consolidated its hold on the title of the white man's party.  Ever since, the whites in the South have been voting overwhelmingly for the Republican Party.   The Democrats tried to get a little support for their cause by choosing candidates from the South, but the whites know the nature of the game.  You can't fool them.  They know that any Democrat that is the candidate for the presidency of the United States is going to be pro-civil rights, whether they are black or white.  Therefore, in the Southern states they won't and don't vote for a Democrat for president in numbers which would provide the electoral votes in these states for the Democrat in this winner take all electoral process in the USA. 

Liberals and conservatives are afraid of the divisive nature of racial inequality in the US.  They both avoid the truth in order to de-emphasize the amount of prejudice and discrimination in the country.  But this type of fudging of the truth just helps promote the apathy of both whites and blacks to discussions of the real nature of and amount of racism in the USA.  

Senior correspondent Andrea Mitchell was heavily criticized for using the term "red neck" to describe a Southern electoral district.  But to deny the use of this term helps deny just how big is the divide between the Southern/rural and the more urbanized areas outside the South.  The term NASCAR culture lets the South mainly off the hook.  Red neck catches the essential difference.  (Similarly the term "Jim Crow" does not catch the inequality, unfairness and brutality of Southern segregation during the era of "separate but equal" racial segregation like the use of ther term Apartheid would. But the USA wants to lie to itself and use a non-meaningful term like "Jim Crow" rather than Apartheid.  I doubt most people in the US even know what Jim Crow is or was:  A whiskey?  A rock band?)

I maintain that liberals fudge the truth for fear of the political and economic repercussions.  No network wants to criticize the South.  The economic damage alone to the network would prevent this.  So the liberal commentators are always playing it safe.  And in playing it safe the truth is left behind.  Liberals are so scared in this country that they can't even state the overwhelming case against the South and its actions and culture.  What would the Republican Party be without the red neck South?  Nothing.  But the liberals are too afraid to say this. 

If we had television during the build-up to the American Civil War, the networks would have tried to downplay the role of race in the conflict between the North and South.  "No", they would say, it's not race, it's culture.  But the truth is that the North and South had different cultures precisely because they had greatly different economies and societies.  And the Southern economy was based largely on race.  Therefore race is the most important factor, not culture.  In order to keep making money and avoiding political criticism and reprisals from the South, the networks in the build-up to the war would have lied to themselves and their public, just as they do to this very day.

Both conservatives and liberals agree to de-emphasize the role of race and cooperate on this.   (It's not a conspiracy.  Both sides just like the idea for their own different political goals.)  But both perspectives are pretty useless.  The Americans, however, seem wedded to the idea because the lie means less conflict than the truth does. 

Without historical knowledge, pundits and pollsters reach silly conclusions, but ones that are politically acceptable or "politically correct".  But for those who care about the truth regardless of its consequences  -- for those who want to know the truth   --  please take what even the liberals say with a large grain of salt. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. d.     

August 26, 2008


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