Richard Cohen, a political columnist for the Washington Post, wrote a very…surprising thing in a column yesterday. The column is about the familiar (and very dull) subject of the Republican party and whether it can ever achieve happiness when it combines normal mainstream country club only slightly racist conservatism and the off the wall fanatics of the Tea Party and the theocracy faction. Oh gosh I don’t know, can it? Let me know when you figure it out.
So there we are: the moderates turn off the barn-burners while the barn-burners turn off the swing voters lalalala chorus and finish.
Iowa not only is a serious obstacle for Christie and other Republican moderates, it also suggests something more ominous: the Dixiecrats of old. Officially the States’ Rights Democratic Party, they were breakaway Democrats whose primary issue was racial segregation. In its cause, they ran their own presidential candidate, Strom Thurmond, and almost cost Harry Truman the 1948 election. They didn’t care. Their objective was not to win — although that would have been nice — but to retain institutional, legal racism. They saw a way of life under attack and they feared its loss.
Yes, got it, moderates v fanatics, and how the competition between them is a threat to normal average mainstream moderateness.
Today’s GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled — about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts — but not all — of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all.
These not-racist people with their conventional views “must repress a gag reflex” when they think about an interracial marriage? One with – gasp – some former being a lesbian hiding in its already gag-worthy closet? And that’s not racism? It’s not racism to have a gag reflex at the thought of a white person married to a black person? How, exactly, is that not racist?
And what are the “conventional views” that entail having a gag reflex when thinking about an interracial marriage? Oh I know, I get it – the gag reflex is a manifestation of disgust, one of the core universal emotions. So the “conventional views” must be that Other Races are disgusting and the thought of close contact with someone of an Other Race is disgusting and triggers a gag reflex.
But that’s not racist.