Monday, January 11, 2010

Double Standards, And Their Absence

I'm not going to go into Senator Harry Reid's comments regarding the electability of then-Senator Barack Obama. But what I am going to talk about is the "double standard" talk emanating from some members of the GOP.

There is no damned double standard. Why? Well, for one, in order for it to truly be a double standard, the parties would have to be on equal footing. Guess what? They're not.

There is a long-standing tradition within the GOP to use dog-whistles, in their ads and in their robocalls. Like the Willie Horton ad, used against Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential election. Like the poll calls in 2000 asking South Carolina voters if they would be less likely to vote for John McCain if they knew he had fathered an illegitimate African-American child, based partially on the fact McCain and his wife had adopted a little girl from Bangladesh. Ronald Reagan used the specter of the "welfare queen" in order to win the support of white America.

Then there is this: the person Harry Reid is being most compared to on an individual level within the GOP camp is Trent Lott. Lott, who said that had Strom Thurman been elected president, the country would be in a better place, that we wouldn't have all the problems we have now. Some nice remarks for an elder statesman's birthday? Perhaps. But the question becomes, better for whom? For the African-Americans who were left out of Thurman's America? No. It would not be better for them at all.

And that's what it comes down to - policy decisions and reaching out to a minority community. I'm not going to say that the Dems don't house racists. I'm not going to say that the GOP is totally bad on issues of race and the Dems are totally wonderful. What I am going to say is that the GOP has continually made a home for itself in the high places, and have perpetually attacked policies that are designed to help minorities in our nation. Sometimes, out of a sense of political theory, but just as often it seems that it happens out of bad faith.

So, they don't get the benefit of the doubt when one of their members runs his mouth. So, they don't get the cushion that comes with having an amiable history with the community in question. So, they get hammered harder because there is no trust there. There is no sense that these guys are trying to do right, that they've stumbled and fallen because they're idiots and not because they just don't care.

That's why there is no double standard. Because, in general, the GOP and the Democratic Party start from two entirely different ledges. And to wipe that clean in an effort to win some scant political support is from the preschool pool of political wisdom.

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