You probably remember Glenn Beck’s remark a few years ago that President Obama has a “deep-seated hatred” of white people. In a Tuesday post, New York magazine blogger Jonathan Chait alleged, less harshly but somewhat analogously, that conservatives have a “deep-seated anxiety about black voting,” and that “Republicans conceive of black voting as a kind of mass, unthinking act, something distinctly unlike the conscious thought process of white citizens.”
Chait added that “conservative disdain for the black vote…justifies [for Republicans an] agenda of imposing vote restrictions designed to dampen African-American turnout…Envisioning voters as cogs in a machine, blindly following racial cues, is a form of self-deception necessary to rationalize their abuse.”
From Chait’s post (emphasis added):
The Wall Street Journal editorial page [claimed recently that] “President Obama is asking for black votes as a matter of racial solidarity...because he can’t make the case based on results.” [This expressed] the political right’s deep-seated anxiety about black voting. Unlike “normal” — i.e., white — voting, black voting is deemed to be “racial” and therefore immune to reason…
…After two and a quarter centuries of voting exclusively for white presidential candidates, when allowed to vote at all, black Americans have finally had the chance to vote for another black American; amazingly, they stand accused of racialism.
In historical reality, the black political tradition in America is deeply infused with pragmatism born of the necessity of being an oppressed minority…
That pragmatic tradition, which recognizes that white hostility circumscribes their power, remains alive today...
It is certainly true that racial identity deeply informs African-American voting behavior, which makes blacks vote more hegemonically than other racial groups. This reflects the reality that public policy is tinged with racial implications. Racial bias in policing, employment, and sentencing remain widespread. Deep economic disparities give African-Americans a strong incentive to support the more redistributive social policies favored by Democrats.
The deep suspicion of the black vote displayed by conservatives is not completely without parallel. One can find on the left pockets of condescension toward the white working class like that expressed in Tom Frank’s What’s the Matter With Kansas?, which treated white working class social conservatism as a kind of false consciousness rather than take it seriously as a belief system. On the other hand, conservative disdain for the black vote is not only far more pervasive than any analogue on the left, it justifies a partywide agenda of imposing vote restrictions designed to dampen African-American turnout.
Republicans conceive of black voting as a kind of mass, unthinking act, something distinctly unlike the conscious thought process of white citizens. (“I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine,” admitted one Ohio Republican.) Envisioning voters as cogs in a machine, blindly following racial cues, is a form of self-deception necessary to rationalize their abuse.