District of Corruption

The Meaning of Condi

We shouldn't hold our breath waiting for a Condolezza Rice VP nomination to come to pass.  However, the prospect that this might happen reveals quite a bit about the GOP's function in society.

As the Takimag commenter "Aaron" correctly points out, when Republicans engage in "outreach" to minorities, we shouldn't believe the fairytale that the GOP leadership—variously, hucksters, sociopaths, and tools of big business—are actually tying to win over Blacks, or even that they think there's a reasonable chance large number of Blacks would vote for Mitt Romney.

I once thought the opposite; that is, I imagined that GOP operatives were as silly and naive as so many true believers in the "conservative movement."  I've come to appreciate the much-more depressing reality: Republican operatives are well aware of the GOP's identity as The White People's Party—and they want to milk it for all its worth.

Politics in our kind of democracy is, inherently, based a very short time-horizon; strategy is made in terms of weeks and days, months at the most.  At some point in the next two decades, the GOP might bow to demographic reality and drastically change course—becoming the party of piñatas, burrittos, and "Forget the Alamo." Until then, GOP operatives will secure their indefinite employment by exploiting the hopes and dreams of Middle America. For every dollar spent on "Hispandering" and embarrassing Spanish-language advertising, the GOP spends millions presenting itself as moral, tough-on-terror, self-righteous, über-patriotic, and gooey, euyey gooooood, so as to appeal to middle-class and blue-collar White Americans.  Even delusional Republicans like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum—men who make televangelists seem noble in comparison—must surely recognize that only older, church-going White people would conceivably vote for them.

Thus, the mainstream Republicans soft talk on immigration*, their refrains about lifting up "all Americans"—and most timely, the strategic leak, by the Romney campaign, that Mitt is considering Condoleezza Rice as his running-mate—are not, in fact, ham-fisted attempts at winning over Blacks. Instead they're ham-fisted attempts at winning over Whites—in particular, White moderates who fear voting Republican because they might get cooties from the Religious Right.

All politics is identity politics.

* -- Whether this strategy is effective and wise or not is another question. The Religious wing of the Party is certainly unfashionable; however, there is a great deal of evidence that immigration restriction is quite popular among segments of the White population, despite the frequent denunciations by media types. Romney could do much better for himself by talking about closing down the border than associating himself, via Condi Rice, with the immensely unpopular Iraq War and Bush regime. But then, I'm not in the business of advising Republicans...