The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

HOWARD DEAN'S CONFEDERATE FLAP
lost cause
The controversy over Howard Dean's comments regarding his desire to be the candidate for Confederate flag-waving white Southerners represents the first real fireworks in the 2004 Election season.

As is usual in a situation loaded with charged imagery and symbolism (see above), whatever distinctions and qualifications that the original arguments may have contained get blurred. So it is in the early going that Dean is getting loads of flack for courting racists, to frame it in the simplistic, sound-bite version.

A more thoughtful perspective on Dean's intent is offered by Constance L. Rice. The most insightful quote:

[Martin Luther] King realized that the grand old bargain this country had always offered to poor whites – namely, accept your poverty and we will ensure your racial caste superiority over blacks – must be destroyed before universal opportunity could be realized.

This is a direct challenge to "herrenvolk democracy" standard that's been a foundation of the social order in the United States since at least the Civil War, if not before; and not only in the South, but nationwide, I'd argue.

Obviously, Dean is shooting for breaking the divide-and-conquer race strategy that's worked so well for the Republicans for the past 40 years, especially in the formerly Solid (Democrat) South. I'm not betting it'll work, at least not now. I suppose the Democrats have to lay the groundwork for two or three elections ahead, though.