The Politics of Pigmentation
Mrs. Clinton might have added that the Civil Rights Act took bipartisanship as well, thanks to fierce opposition from Southern Democrats. Republicans of that era are often portrayed as opponents of civil rights. In fact, a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats voted for the 1964 bill. And when it finally passed, GOP Senator Everett Dirksen, the minority leader who worked closely with the bill's sponsor, Democrat Hubert Humphrey, was honored for his efforts with a NAACP civil rights award.
Democrats never miss an opportunity to play the race card against Republicans and even black conservatives like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who dare to dissent from liberal orthodoxy. So it's tempting to enjoy the political entertainment value of a race-based dust up between Senators Clinton and Obama.
But there's also a cautionary tale here in how identity politics can come back to bite. The left's color-by-numbers approach to attracting votes has essentially painted the Democrats into a corner, making it very difficult for them to prevail in national elections without winning nearly every black vote. The result is the very antithesis of what King fought for -- an over-reliance on blunt racial appeals instead of issues and ideas.
Comment: MLK: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
See Hillary quotes from Meet the Press on Sunday. Notice how much she talks about gender and race:
This is the most exciting election we've had in such a long time because you have an African American, an extraordinary man, a person of tremendous talents and abilities, running to become our president. You have a woman running to break the highest and hardest glass ceiling. I don't think either of us want to inject race or gender in this campaign. We are running as individuals. . . .
Well, you know, I don't think that either of us should use gender. I don't think this campaign is about gender, and I sure hope it's not about race. It needs to be about the individuals. . . .
Clearly, I bring the experiences of women. As a daughter, as a mother, as a wife, as a sister. That is who I am. Those experiences are part of me. And it is part of our American journey that we have moved through so much of what used to hold people back because of gender, because of race. Are we there yet? Is the journey over? I don't think so, and I don't think any fair person would say that.
So we still have to overcome barriers and obstacles. And the very fact that Barack and I are in this campaign, each of us having won one of the first two contests, being prepared to take our case to the country, I think will do more to put to rest so many of these old shibboleths, and all of the, you know, kind of commentary and punditry. Just look at us as individuals.
Comment: The Clintons subtly and not-so-subtly keep bringing up race and gender. They bring up race to frighten Southern white voters, and they bring up gender to enlist and engender the feminine base. They are so slick!
The Politics of Pigmentation