Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Why race has defined the Obama era // Jonathan Chait // New York Magazine

The fundamental shift in American partisan politics of the past 50 years is that the Republican party became the party of the white south.  That brought not only anti-black sentiment but the cultural heritage of biblical conservatism, scientific skepticism, retributive justice, and militarism.  Jonathan Chair marshals the evidence that the stronger slavery was the stronger is anti-black sentiment today.  Then he turns the tables and argues that conservatism does not equal racism, contrary to common liberal sentiment.  

I don't know that the charge is fair.  I certainly am convinced that racial bias makes it easy to rally people against social welfare spending.  But that opportunistic advantage does not mean that conservative thinking is inherently racist.  In my view there are many more reasons than that for conservatism's ascendancy. Like conservatives who see liberal triumph I see conservative ascendancy.  Glass half full vs. glass half empty? 
We are inherently social creatures but there is an inherent tension between self-interest and the interests of others.  We are all more likely to find fault with policies that benefit "the other" however we define "them".  This has many implications for social policy - such as school funding, integration, etc.  As I watch young professional parents sacrifice to send their kids to costly private schools they are certainly not trying to avoid integrated schools.  They are seeking peer education - the typical road to success. And there just aren't so many black or Latin families on that road.  Why is the legacy of racism.  Is there a path out?  hard to say.  Anyway read Chait, and read Andrew Sprung's insightful assessment of Chait and a similar piece by Ezra Klein on "confirmation bias". - gwc
Why Race Has Been the Real Story of Obama's Presidency All Along -- New York Magazine:

Optimists hoped Obama would usher in a new age of racial harmony. Pessimists feared a surge in racial strife. Neither was right. But what happened instead has been even more invidious.

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