What Have You Done For Me Lately?

Two interesting posts at Pam’s today. The first is about Dems bleeding black voters to the GOP, a particular interest of Pam’s about which she has written before (as have I). It boils down to a very simple question: What have you done for me lately? The Dems have been precious little more than the lesser of two evils for minorities for quite some time. Granted, that’s can make a big difference on certain issues, but in terms of solving problems like endemic poverty that consistently plagues many minority communities, the Dems haven’t done much to help, and keeping an already dire status quo from becoming worse only can take them so far. As Pam notes:
The Dems are going to have to explain themselves to a black audience that is now paying attention to a party that has taken this constituency for granted. The message is stale, the politicians only show up at a church to mingle with black folks when the vote is on the line. That's hard to defend in a sound bite. Actions speak louder than words.
And right now, the party that’s taking action is the GOP, cynical though it is—which brings us to Pam’s second post, in which she discusses Ken Mehlman’s recent “apology” for the GOP’s “Southern Strategy,” a policy started under Richard M. Nixon in 1968 wherein race was used as a wedge issue, courting white southern (bigoted) voters by appealing to their aversion to issues such as desegregation and busing.

In a truly disingenuous bit of bullshit, Mehlman says:
By the '70s and into the '80s and '90s, the Democratic Party solidified its gains in the African American community, and we Republicans did not effectively reach out… Some Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong.
It’s utter nonsense, of course. The GOP might have given up on trying to benefit politically from racial polarization, but only because they’ve discovered polarizing the black community using the wedge issue of gay rights is more beneficial. They’ve captured the white bigot vote pretty securely at this point, so they’re moving on, trying to pull the homobigots off the black (traditionally Dem) voter bloc. They aren’t giving up on divisive politics; they’ve just moved the dividing line, substituting one prejudice for another.

Evidence? Let’s go back to Pam’s first post, where she quotes conservative blogger Fee Benamon:
Most black people are against Homosexual marriage, or anything of the sort. Many blacks switched and voted for President Bush over this big issue last year during the Presidential election. That and the issue of abortion. Those seem to be the two biggest topics that have dominated news headlines in the past few years. Black people want to keep our traditional values. So we turn to the Republican party… The next time you go to a gathering of Republicans, look around. These are people who are bonded together by their love of family, conservative values & traditions, love of God, etc. It shows mightily.
Although I sincerely doubt that Benamon is any more representative of the entirety of the black community than I am of the white community, the point remains that the GOP strategy of divide-and-conquer (whether it’s called the “Southern Strategy” or “effectively reaching out”) is working, to one degree or another.

So now the question is: what are the Dems going to do about it? They’ve taken their black constituents for granted, coasting on their good work during the Civil Rights era, for too long. It’s a party weakness, and like they always do, the GOP has found a way to exploit it.

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