The politics of race in the political races is something that has been constant through the years. The blatancy of it, however, has declined through the years, with euphemisms replacing more obvious words (for example: nigger -> negro -> black -> urban). The term for using code words like this is dog whistle racism
, because most people hear the words, but the REAL message is still delivered to those who are meant to hear it. This political season, however, the whistle has been tossed out, and replaced with a klaxon horn.
Take for example the latest Santorum slip-up (
). While addressing a group of Republicans in Iowa on Monday, he said
"I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money". After most people picked their jaws up off the floor, the reaction was swift and focused. How dare he say that in pure direct English? What was he thinking? He backtracked initially saying he meant to say something else
and had a brain fart in mid-word, and it came out "bleurgh people". No one bought it. THEN he clarified that he said "blah people"
. Really? Has anyone asked what word he really MEANT to say? I'm pretty sure it wasn't "blah".
Everyone is already pretty familiar with Rick Perry's hunting cabin named "niggerhead"
. There's no mincing around THAT one, although he certainly tried, claiming that he didn't notice it, despite it being blatently painted on a rock right at the entrance - for YEARS.
Ron Paul has had his past come back to bite him as well. He put out newsletters in the late 80s to early 90s containing some nasty racist rhetoric. He's been backpeddling
during this race, but past evidence belies his current claims of innocence
Newt Gingrich, however, has been the Grand Wizard of this campaign season. He's said that poor children from poor neighborhoods have "no habits of working" nor getting paid for their endeavors "unless it's illegal"
. He's also suggested these poor children be allowed to work as janitors at their school, swabbing out toilets. His most recent blatant comment, however, was saying "the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps"
. This has created the expected (and deserved) outrage, with the VP of the NAACP pointing out
that the greatest percentage of welfare payments go to whites, not blacks. Maybe the white community should be demanding paychecks too... Oh wait - they are (along with every other color of the rainbow - see Occupy Wall Street
The biggest question - and the one to which we may not like the answer - is will these comments hurt the candidates? Will they be rejected by the electorate?... or will the voters look the other way? I think it's safe to assume there is a small minority that will actually embrace these comments. It leaves me a little cold to think that, but I am in touch with reality.
Ultimately, there will be one Republican candidate that goes up against President Barack Obama later this year. If we are to judge that person by the content of their character, here's hoping we are not left wanting.