Why race matters in politics

cal poly conservative columnist brendan pringle

Whether the conservative establishment likes it or not, race is a determinant of electoral victories. Many Republicans like myself prefer to talk about issues that affect us personally — such as jobs.

But this is part of the reason why we lost in 2008.

I am not saying that President Obama was elected because of the color of his skin. This undoubtedly drove some people to the polls (in the effort to “make history”), but it was really the manner in which he appealed to the black demographic that won over their precious votes.

This pattern will likely continue in the 2012 presidential election. But is it really so shocking for blacks to vote Republican?

For Joseph Phillips, a conservative black commentator and former star of “The Cosby Show,” the answer is no. Even as a product of Hollywood, he continues to vote “conservative” time and time again.

Yet as a conservative, he believes Republicans still need to change their strategy, especially during the upcoming election campaign. With their promises to restore fiscal responsibility to government and get America back on the path to prosperity, they often neglect the issue of race.

Phillips said “as a result, the GOP will not be successful at attracting black voters back to the party of Lincoln, and we will have ceded the discussion of race to the left” who are “more than happy to run with the ball.”

Phillips flatly denies that “racism has the social power that it once it had,” noting that this doesn’t mean that it has suddenly disappeared from our society.

Republicans will continue to lose the trust of blacks when they evade discussions of race or choose not to directly address this important demographic head on. It is one thing to be opposed to liberal-supported policy measures such as affirmative action. But it seems that nowadays, many conservatives haven’t shown the slightest interest in this issue.

As a result, Bill Clinton became the “first black President” in 1992, and conservatives had nothing to fall back on after George W. Bush packed his bags.

The black identity is strong. Black voters don’t think the same way or have the same views, but they do know when they are ignored and they know when they are given an open ear.

Democrats (and liberals in general) seem to have a monopoly on the term “diversity” as if they invented it. Also, they seem to be most effective at the “conquer by division” strategy; they win over different minority groups through their mushy, meaningless promises of change.

Contrary to the liberal myths, conservatives are not racist by nature, nor do their policies purposely try to suppress opportunity for blacks. Our problem is that we haven’t attempted to connect with this important demographic on a personal level.

Phillips will be speaking at Cal Poly tonight from 7 to 8 p.m. in Science North, room 215. The event is free and open to the public.

  • Ceranna

    “Black voters don’t think the same way or have the same views, but they do know when they are ignored and they know when they are given an open ear.”

    Yeah, great way to simplify a diverse and complex culture.
    Cuz all African Americans are like kids right? Give em enough “candy” and they’ll like you.

    I mean,good lord Pringle

  • Darin

    I’ll hi-five Ceranna for pointing out how you just portrayed Blacks as simple minded political pawns.

    Moving on…

    “Whether the conservative establishment likes it or not, race is a determinant of electoral victories. Many Republicans like myself prefer to talk about issues that affect us personally — such as jobs.”

    This is the disconnect. This is why black voters often cannot vote for Republicans. Race is an issue that affects me everyday because of my status as a marginalized minority. There is not a day here in San Luis Obispo that I do not wish that there were more people who could identify with my experiences as an African American. Race affects you personally as well. You do not have to worry about being watched particularly closely when you walk into a convenience store. You do not have to worry about other students suspecting that you are only a student at Cal poly because of your race. You are not asked to provide “the white male perspective” when I am often asked “How do Blacks feel about that?” When you cut yourself and get a band-aid, it is flesh colored. Mine is not. These are all privileges that you have because you are white. they affect you daily. You simply choose to ignore them. I suggest you try to acknowledge these privileges, Mr. Pringle.

    “Contrary to the liberal myths, conservatives are not racist by nature, nor do their policies purposely try to suppress opportunity for blacks. Our problem is that we haven’t attempted to connect with this important demographic on a personal level.”

    Can you provide the source of that myth? I think you are confusing it with the fact that republicans are MORE likely to be racist.The policies do not purposely try to suppress Blacks, they only try to give the top earners and most powerful people what they want in order to receive political support while IGNORING Blacks. It’s pretty difficult to connect personally with anyone who doesn’t share your values, and that is what is taking place with the lack of conservative blacks.

    • Jerel

      You are right on the money Darin, that was very well stated. It is disappointing to read an article like this because it cites no sources, provides little (if any) warrants for the claims made.

      This commentary has no impact because, even if we agree with the premise of the article, no solutions are provided on how Republicans can connect with black voters.

  • jjaybe

    God, I can’t wait for you to graduate and go away. You pollute this site with your racist, sexist, homophobic words. You exist as an insult to both the English and Journalism departments with your poorly-researched and poorly-composed lackluster rants. Good riddance.

  • Melissa

    I’m sure the author of this article likes to think he’s not racist, yet he participates in the white privileged male lifestyle without abandon, and does not question it at all. I’m a white blonde female, and it makes me sad that people like this represent “my” race.

    It’s interesting to me that this person is an english major, because their writing lacks clarity, conviction, and research. they just write everything on here like it’s some blog entry. This whole thing reads like a poorly written persuasive essay, not a news article.
    Please educate yourself on what you are writing about and edit things so that you actually have a point to your writings, other than just making it obvious how uneducated you are about the subjects you are writing about, how ignorant you are about race, and maybe then you’d have something that’s actually coherent and not full of blanket statements and meaningless “quotes”.

  • Spicy Mexican Salsa

    CENSORSHIP!!!

    My comments about this article were taken down about 2 days ago. Two or three other opinions from other people were also discarded. On this Memorial Day weekend when we pause to remember the price that has been paid for our freedoms, including the right to free speech, I cannot and will not remain silent. The remaining comments left on this post all infer that the author of this article is a privileged white male who is racist, sexist, and homophobic. Of course, the powers that be do not find this inflammatory , but I do. I have been the victim of racism and I do not tolerate bogus claims of it, as in this case. I agree with the authors opinion but because I am a female Hispanic, I am given a pass. He is not so lucky and automatically becomes a Pinata for the left to beat up at their whim in order to promote their agenda.
    Everyone here can see that it is the liberals not the conservatives that are for censorship. We want all opinions and positions to be given equal value and treatment. Even the foul mouth ones that are “saddened” by the author and his article deserve the right to be heard. I was equally upset and offended that his
    post was also taken down. He, like myself is being censored. I urge the powers that be to realize how unfair it is to only leave comments that agree with their politics and for them to reconsider and reinstate all deleted posts, in the spirit of free speech and fairness.
    Bully politics and fear of dissenting opinions should have no place in this forum. I will once again end my comments with this Spanish proverb . “Vivir con miedo es como vivir a medias”.

    • Mike

      I noticed that 3 comments supporting Brendan’s article were removed overnight while the remaining libs got their tantrums left up. I was leaning towards it being some sort of error because I hadn’t seen the Mustang Daily remove posts like that before.

      • Kaytlyn Leslie

        Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We are looking into why those particular comments were removed, as it was not by a Mustang Daily employee. We require all removed comments to be run through myself or the managing editor before being removed, and a follow-up comment alerting readers of the changes to be posted as well. We apologize for any confusion, and will alert our readers as soon as the dilemma has been solved. Thank you again for bringing it to our attention. – Kaytlyn Leslie, Mustang Daily editor-in-chief.

        • Mark Westenhouse

          As a parent to children spread out across multiple CSU’s I must say Kaytlyn that your newspaper is by far the worst. Not only does it exude a scent of corruption but it also manages to make my younger daughter’s high school newspaper look like the New York Times compared to the middle school garbage you “writers” gawk about on a daily basis.

          I feel ashamed to say I graduated from a school that publishes such rubbish.

          • Second time…

            Unfortunately, My comment was deleted as well. The gist of my comment was something to the effect of 95% of the African American demographic voted for Obama during the 2008 election. This information can be found anywhere and is based on actual voting numbers. Think about this: It’s just as racist to vote for someone because of their skin color as it is to vote against someone because of their skin color.

            BTW, I’m a veteran attending Cal Poly. Those comments were conveniently deleted since someone didn’t like what I had to say. If you don’t agree with my thoughts/facts, please refute in a civilized manner. Thank you to all the men and women who paid the ultimate price to allow us these freedoms, including freedom of speech.

  • anonamous

    Anti-UPD comments were also censored on the “Student arrested after chase” story. Mustang Daily is just a mouthpiece for the pigs and politians that run this school. Shame!

  • Andrew B

    This is all bad. Bad, bad, bad.

    Racism =def. a system of advantage based on race. This is SOC 101. If you have benefited in some fashion from the ends and means of social preference for race, then you are a ‘racist’ in the sense that you have perpetuated that system. Being a racist has nothing to do with committing what we think of as an ‘overt’ act of racism. Thankfully, these overt acts – though still painfully present – are showing some slight decline in more recent years.

    But the simple truth is that all white people are racists. We simply cannot comprehend the extent to which positive feedback loops generated by our whiteness has led to our privileged positions in society. We don’t have the double consciousness. We don’t have the wary grandparents. We’ve never been redlined out of a loan, we’ve never been cabless in Manhattan, we’ve never been called a nigger.

    Racism doesn’t stop existing when we elect a black President, nor even when tensions ease between whites and blacks completely. Racism ends when the subordination of certain groups in our society is no longer decided by race.

    I’m actually a bit saddened by this article here. Brendan “The black identity is strong” Pringle just doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Obviously. But he’s no different from so many Americans who for some reason can’t shake this antiquated concept of what is racism. It’s serial oversimplification of the richness and diversity of an entire group’s thought that tricks people into thinking they are somehow separate from the process of racism, that racism is something that is happening elsewhere, not here.

    But sentiments like Pringle’s are exactly what has been holding us back.

    Pringle, you are supposed to be a representative of the English major. I know you’re committed to expanding the conservative platform, but this is just ignorance. Were you asleep for Hughes and Toomer and Hurston and Morrison and Wright? I have trouble accepting that you could have navigated my same course of study and come away with such a callow understanding of black history and sentiment.

    • Kate

      “Pringle, you are supposed to be a representative of the English major. I know you’re committed to expanding the conservative platform, but this is just ignorance. Were you asleep for Hughes and Toomer and Hurston and Morrison and Wright? I have trouble accepting that you could have navigated my same course of study and come away with such a callow understanding of black history and sentiment.”

      My thoughts exactly.

  • Kaytlyn Leslie

    We have looked into the problem of the deleted comments, and found that the reason they are missing from the site was a malfunction stemming from the website switching hosts over the weekend. Due to the switch, any new information submitted between Friday and Sunday was lost. The problem has since been remedied, and I apologize for any confusion/anger over the problem. I encourage everybody who’s comments were deleted to repost at their convenience. In the future, please know that no comments are removed from the site unless they violate our specific policies (http://mustangdaily.net/about-us/policies/). In the event a comment is removed, a corresponding comment from one of our editors will notify readers of the removal. If similar issues ever arise, I encourage you to email mustangdaily@gmail.com immediately. As a news organization, we take the issue of censorship very seriously, and greatly appreciate your input in ensuring no such violations occur. Feel free to email me at kaytlynleslie.md@gmail.com with any further questions.

    • lisa leslie

      Its a shame Pringles article didn’t disappear along with all the comments when you switched hosts :(

      random question but does it get annoying when people spell your name and you have to explain to them that there are 2 y’s and that it is the farthest from normal spelling of a very common name. Just curious

      • Kaytlyn Leslie

        It does tend to make ordering at Starbucks more difficult :)

  • Samantha Smith

    Although I generally agree with your argument that conservatives can’t simply avoid the “pink elephant in the room” we call race, I found your argument had some faults. Mainly, your polarization of blacks immediately sets forth a huge barrier in your argument, which is strengthened by you mentioning that it might be “shocking for blacks to vote Republican”. I feel as if your alienation of the race in this article about race might negate what some of your argument is aimed to be.

    Secondly, although it is understandable that this article focused mainly on race, there was a severe oversimplification of why the republican party might have lost the presidential race in 2008. To simply say that Obama won the election because of his race is most definitely jumping to some conclusions without fully considering his merit as a candidate.

  • Nico

    I don’t really know where to start with this one, I counted about 6 logical fallacies within. As a graduate of the english department I would hope that you would at least avoid something that we all learned in freshman english. For start the quote “it was really the manner in which he appealed to the black demographic that won over their precious votes.’ is an example of oversimplification, you do not have enough evidence (or any for that matter) that proves this is the reason why he won over their votes. Than again further down “Republicans will continue to lose the trust of blacks when they evade discussions of race or choose not to directly address this important demographic head on. It is one thing to be opposed to liberal-supported policy measures such as affirmative action. But it seems that nowadays, many conservatives haven’t shown the slightest interest in this issue.” Really? Cause this sounds an awful like polarization. You are assuming all Republicans avoid the issue of race, which again has no supporting evidence. I’m not going to nit pick each one of your sentences (even though I very well could), but I’m going to give you some advice. Avoid the Hast generalizations, just because you call yourself a conservative doesn’t mean you represent all of us.

    • Dude

      Darn that guy!… studentaffairs.calpoly.edu

  • Savanah Peter

    Race has been, is, and forever will be a taboo subject. You and I see eye to eye on the subject of addressing race.
    Racism has grown its roots deep into the American soil. The vile vegetation has been budding and blossoming from the time when the seed of racism was first planted, when wealthy, white Southerners were exploiting the impoverished male population through sharecropping and money swindling. Eventually, and effectively, the aristocratic plantation owners pitted the poverty stricken white demographic against the equally poverty-stricken “colored” population by forming skin color-based alliances that in reality were nothing but empty words, pleasing to the ear and not the pocket, beneficial only to the already well off men at the top of the social food chain. (all of which constitutes absolutely despicable behavior)
    Throughout the decades, explosive growth, excessive pruning and re-sprouting have alternately faded and blackened the swampy shadow cast by the tree of racial torment, but no generation has ever wielded an ax large enough to sever the truck from its roots.
    I agree that Republicans have danced around the touchy topic of race for too long. However, the manner in which you make your argument to “connect with this important demographic on a personal level” is detrimental to very claim you are trying to support. Race and America have a complex history that cannot even begin to be disestablished on the basis of one black man, Joseph Phillips, voting conservative.
    I understand that you realize this. I understand that this is only one example of a black individual voting conservatively, and that there is clearly a high possibility of many others that do the same, but nevertheless it is a hasty generalization to claim that this one man’s consistent, right-wing vote is enough to remove the “shock factor” of any significant portion of the black demographic casting Republican votes.
    It is also a hasty generalization to classify the race-avoiding sector of conservatives as the entire Republican Party.
    In the 2012 official Republican platform it is written that “we stand for a stronger and freer America.” The belief in freedom is a universal ideal that permeates the core of conservative belief; it’s undeniable, even by the liberals.
    Taken from Bill Barrow’s (a noted political commentator that specializes on issues concerning the South) “As Demographics Change, An End to the Solid South,” “The transformation of the South seems to never end,” said Mo Elleithee, a Democratic campaign consultant with deep experience in Virginia and federal elections. “Now it’s beginning to emerge, at least parts of it, as solidly purple.” Also taken from Barrow’s article, “In Virginia, counties outside metropolitan Washington, D.C., and along the Atlantic coast helped elect a succession of Democratic governors and U.S. senator and swung to Obama in 2008. Then they went solidly for Republican Bob McDonnell in the 2009 governor’s race.”
    Voter behavior is diverse. One man’s vote is not substantial enough to support the broad claim that it isn’t rare for black people to vote conservative. This being said, your claim may still be correct, just not validly proven. There is also sufficient evidence to support conservative acknowledgement of race. Once again, I do agree that race should have a little more time in the spotlight when it comes to conservative politics, but for you to make the generalization that all Republicans are ignoring race is not a valid argument either.

  • Gina

    This entire article is based upon oversimplification of Obama’s victory in 2008 and polarization of races.

    “This undoubtedly drove some people to the polls (in the effort to “make history”), but it was really the manner in which he appealed to the black demographic that won over their precious votes.”

    You provide absolutely no evidence for this claim, making it an oversimplification of the reason that so many African Americans voted for Obama.

    Then the worst part of this article: “Many Republicans like myself prefer to talk about issues that affect us personally — such as jobs.”

    To say that race does not affect you personally is simply ridiculous. As someone who considers themselves to be politically aware and active (and an English major to boot), it baffles me that you could write something so ignorant and polarizing.

  • akw

    The amount of logical fallacies in this column simply overshadows the argument you are trying to make. Not only are you oversimplifying the whole 2008 election by arguing that blacks were a major pawn in why Obama won but you are also oversimplifying the black community by making them appear as one group. When saying that “they do know when they are ignored and they know when they are given an open ear” the black community is simply becoming a group of people that always vote and feel the same.
    Along with oversimplifying the different aspects that make this election so monumental, you are making a hasty generalization to put yourself as the voice of the Republican Party. By stating that “Our problem is that we haven’t attempted to connect with this important demographic on a personal level” you are really drawing conclusions for a very diverse group of voters.

    • Dan Possom

      I know… who does this guy think he is? studentaffairs.calpoly.edu.

  • Bram

    This whole article is based on a logical fallacy. You are saying Barack Obama got elected solely because of ” the manner in which he appealed to the black demographic that won over their precious votes.”

    Barack Obama did not win the election because people wanted to make history and he did not win African-american votes by simply appealing to them through his skin color. You provided zero evidence to support this claim that you made. You are clearly just making an oversimplification of why Obama won.

    Secondly you talk about how “Black voters don’t think the same way or have the same views,” [...] you are implying that all black voters are more focused on being identified as black voters than who is more fit to run our country.

    Lastly you state that “Many Republicans like myself prefer to talk about issues that affect us personally — such as jobs.” For you to say that race does not affect you is just absurd. How can you consider yourself politically aware and still be able to write something so ignorant.

  • Luke

    So you’re going to take one conservative black guy’s opinion to totally speak for the Black demographic population in America? Where’s your objective evidence on this issue? It seems as though you committed the fallacy of appeal to authority.
    “Democrats (and liberals in general) seem to have a monopoly on the term “diversity” as if they invented it. Also, they seem to be most effective at the “conquer by division” strategy; they win over different minority groups through their mushy, meaningless promises of change.”
    I seriously doubt that those are the only reasons why more minorities vote Democrat then Republican. It seems as if you over simplified, and over exaggerated Democrats stance on race. Hence, you committed the crimes of the Name Calling, Polarization, and Straw Man fallacies.

  • Andrew

    The first bulk of the article consistently tries to bring the readers attention to race. This is a very delicate topic to pick at, especially being on the other side. Few other commenters pointed out some fallacies that I realized as well. When trying to rationalize many African American voters reasons for voting for Obama he scrapes the surface of the olden days by saying that the black voters aren’t the same and require different attention. I think our point is to move away from this. At the beginning of this article I was happy to see that someone was going to dissect the racial differences mapped directly into a political frame and prove logically that a correlation can be drawn and candidates should note this. But the way the topic was picked apart was not so delicate and considerable responses from that community were heard. He uses a logical fallacy by trying to promote the ethos of of this Black celebrity when really he is just as valuable when it comes to any other citizen in the black community. Not only does that revert his evidence but it also doesn’t seem to be very accurate representation considering it was a Black movie star who probably can only relate to the top 2% of his demographic socioeconomically. Also his “general” breakdowns (poking fun at the use of all his “generally” comments because we want more than the “general” picture especially on an issue like this) were all shrugged off kind of. Every time he used generally he was stating a claim which he believed voters followed which was opinionated and more importantly not supported by evidence. I believe an article like this should’ve taken much more time and both sides, more importantly the African Americans you are trying to appeal to as well should have been considered more throughout the column. The challenge was taken and for that I do support the writer I just think he had no idea the magnitude of such a common story.

  • Ashley

    You have done a great amount of oversimplification by claiming “black voters don’t think the same way or have the same views”, and that democrats “win over different minority groups through their mushy, meaningless promises of change”. I don’t know what or who this based is off but is definitely a hasty generalization with very little support or reasoning behind it. You then flip it, trying to rationalize why most black people are democratic by claiming the conservative group’s “problem is that we haven’t attempted to connect with this important demographic on a personal level”.