The Politics of Representation/Representational Politics

I shall demonstrate elsewhere that what is often called the black soul is white man's artifact.

- Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

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The Politics of Representation/Representational Politics

White civilization and European culture have forced an existential deviation on the Negro. I shall demonstrate elsewhere that what is often called the black soul is white man's artifact.

- Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

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Voting Blocs and constructive dialogue about the Democratic primary

The discussion of the role racial politics has played in this campaign is sadly (if predictably) devolving into dangerous and absurd accusations on both sides.

Accusations that the Clintons are engaging in "KKK tactics" not only distorts reality, but also tend marginalize the true terror and horror of the actual KKK in America. Strom Thurmond has not been dead that long...and his openly pro-hate populist 'Dixiecrat' campaign from 1948 isn't that distant in our collective history. If you want to see real KKK electoral race-baiting in action, then do some simple googling about that campaign. Saying the Clintons have "gone KKK" dilutes the fetid and disgusting nature of the real thing.

Likewise, the accusation of "death threats" being hurled at the Obama campaign with regard to the ostensible pressure being applied to black superdelegates like Rep. Lewis does not seem to be conducive to any kind of positive dialogue either. Legitimate questions could be raised about some of the tactics of Jesse Jackson, Jr., especially, but raising the specter of "death threats" when such stories have not been confirmed is unhelpful to say the least. Yes, I know about Tavis, but Tavis is not a superdelegate. It must be recognized that there is a difference between the two.

These partisan hyperventilations erode any substantive dialogue we could be having--at least with regard to the role of race in electoral politics, if not the forever looming 800 lb. gorilla of the role of race in American culture generally.

So here's a suggestion: let's try to talk about something which seems tangible and capable of historical contextualizing--bloc voting.

There is perhaps nothing more democratic than bloc voting: by which I mean voting en masse to forward your particular group's mutual interests in order to assure the issues most important to you will be heard. Think about it: this is the very essence of democracy in a republican form of government. If we cannot have a pure democracy because of the vast size of our country, then bloc voting seems to be the next best thing to advance vital interests.

And we seem to be in the midst of one of the more impressive demonstrations of mass bloc voting in a primary season I have ever witnessed. Regardless of who may be your candidate of preference, the AA community's unity and support for Obama is incredibly impressive and historically noteworthy. Yet, it seems that nothing especially interesting is being said about it. What exactly does it mean? Was it spontaneous or organized? Are there any historical analogs? And is the bloc vote indicative of support merely for the candidate that is Obama, or is it driven by a particular underlying issue or issues?

My point is this: when 80-90% of any discrete group with such large raw numbers (within the Democratic Party anyway) is bloc voting at the level we have seen in this election, then it is significant, possibly historic. It is worthy of serious discussion as to what exactly it means. I am offering no opinion on whether it is a "good" or a "bad" thing, but I just want to see what others have to say about this phenomenon.

Maybe I'm deluding myself, though. In this inflammatory zeitgeist, is constructive dialogue about this even possible?

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