A Look At Racial Politics

As I was waiting for a lecture to begin last week, I overheard a conversation between two of my classmates. One classmate, sporting Karl Marx paraphernalia, told the person sitting in the next seat about how Republicans discriminate against blacks, Muslims, and Hispanics… “basically anyone who’s not a white Christian”. So to the Karl Marx fan in my class, here is a brief history lesson:

Let us begin in January 1992. During Bill Clinton’s first term in office, he appointed Warren Christopher to be the Secretary of State. Warren is a white Methodist. In 1996, Clinton appointed a new Secretary of State. Her name is Madeleine Albright and she is a white Episcopalian.

During George W. Bush’s stay in the White House, he (like Clinton) chose two Secretaries of State.

If the Karl Marx fan was right:  Bush would have discriminated against minorities and instead would have chosen white Christians.

What actually happened:  In 2000, Bush chose Colin Powell, an Episcopalian BLACK person. In 2004, he chose Condi Rice, a Presbyterian BLACK person.

Fast-forward to 2007 and take a look at the Louisiana Gubernatorial Election. There were four major contenders:  Foster Campell, Walter Boasso, John Geroges, and Bobby Jindal. The first three men are white Christians.

If the Karl Marx fan was right:  At least one of the white Christian candidates would be a Republican and would therefore be supported by Republicans. The Republicans would, in turn, discriminate against the Indian, Bobby Jindal, making it very difficult for him to win.

What actually happened:  Campbell (a white Baptist) and Boasso (a white Catholic) ran as Democrats. Georges (a white Christian) ran as an Independent. So far, I count all white Christian candidates, yet no Republican candidate. That leaves one man remaining, Bobby Jindal.  Bobby Jindal is an INDIAN Catholic Republican. Bobby Jindal won 54% of the vote. The other three white Christian candidates each received less than 18% of the vote (respectively). Bobby Jindal won the election and succeeded former Governor Kathleen Blanco, a white Catholic Democrat.

Fast-foward to 2009.  The Republican and Democrat National Committees each selected a new Chairman.

If the Karl Marx fans was right:  The Republicans would choose a white Christian to lead their party, especially given the fact that the Democrats had just put a black person in the White House.  Republicans, being so discriminatory against minorities, would surely never select a black National Chairman.

What actually happened:  The Democrats selected Tim Kaine, a white Catholic, to be the new DNC Chairman. The Republicans selected Michael Steele, a BLACK Catholic, to be the new RNC Chairman.

Fast-forward to today.  2010.  In Indiana’s 7th U.S. Congressional District (basically Indianapolis/Marion County), André Carson, a black Muslim, is running for re-election as a Democrat.

If the Karl Marx fan was right:  The Republicans would nominate a white Christian to run against Carson.  Republicans, who will discriminate against Carson and vote against him because he is black, would never run a black person of their own.

What is actually happening:  Marvin Scott, a BLACK Presbyterian, is running against Carson on the Republican ticket.

Also in 2010, there is a very high U.S. Senate race in Florida.  There are three candidates, Kendrick Meek, Marco Rubio, and Charlie Crist. Meek is a black Baptist; Rubio is a Hispanic Catholic, and Crist is a white Methodist.

If the Karl Marx fan was right:  Charlie Crist would be the Republican candidate, no questions asked. He is the white Christian, so it makes. After all, there is no way that discriminating Republicans would nominate a black person or a Hispanic person. If either of those men ran in the Republican primary, Crist would slaughter them, if for no other reason than because he is a white Christian.

What is actually happening:  Marco Rubio, the Hispanic Catholic, is the Republican candidate. Rubio developed such a strong lead over Charlie Crist, the white Methodist, in the Republican primary that Crist dropped out and is now running as an Independent. Kendrick Meek, the black Baptist, is running as a Democrat.  Marco Rubio has nearly a 10 point lead in the polls over his nearest competitor, Charlie Crist. Kendrick Meek is polling a distant third.

What can we take away from all of this? First and foremost, discrimination is not the exclusive providence of any political party or ideology. Moreover, there is overwhelming evidence against the Karl Marx fan’s generalization that Republicans discriminate against anyone who is not a white Christian.  There are minorities running as Republican candidates, sometimes against white Christian Democrat opponents. People of every faith and hue will support or oppose either candidate in any given contest.

Beyond pure party politics, there are minorities attending Tea Party rallies, and they are accepted and embraced. There are white Christians who are some of the biggest supporters of the Tea Party movement, and there are white Christians who are some the harshest critics of the Tea Party movement. In short, those who make specific generalizations about Republicans being discriminatory against anyone who is not a white Christian should take a glance at history. The facts might surprise them.

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