Ronald Reagan and Race

After seeing the seeming ignorance about what Ronald Reagan was in Jerome's post, I looked for something that best captured the cancer that Ronald Reagan was on race issues. I found this excerpt:

More than anything else, it is the issue of race--the constant sticking point in all claims to America's moral transcendency--that thwarts any effort to simplify Ronald Reagan. Was he a racist? Hayward insists that "Reagan never wanted to win an election on a racial appeal." Yet when the struggle for civil rights hung in the balance, Reagan opposed both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965--the bills that ensured black Americans of their most fundamental rights to sit on a public bus and to cast a ballot. He was one of the pioneers of the Republican "Southern strategy," breaking off white Democratic voters through thinly veiled racist appeals, and all four of his presidential campaigns depended heavily upon the support of unrepentant racist politicians, such as North Carolina's Jesse Helms.

Most egregious of all was Reagan's first speech after the 1980 convention, in Philadelphia, Mississippi. It was in Philadelphia that, just sixteen years earlier, the young civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner had been murdered by local Klansmen, but Reagan's speech failed to make even the slightest reference to the murders. Instead, it contained the usual code words--"I believe in states' rights and I believe in people doing as much as they can for themselves at the community level and at the private level."

The Philadelphia speech--like the rest of the disagreeable past--has been expunged from conservative annals. Hayward at least has the integrity to bring it up, though he still tries to insist that Reagan was only "clearly reiterating his well-known opinion against centralized government power."

That was Reagan on race.

Tags: Barack Obama, Election 2008, Ronald Reagan (all tags)



Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

boy, talk about comparing apples and oranges.

the poor strategist was talking about Reagan's STRATEGY, not his POLITICS.

by pmb 2007-07-27 03:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

Oh fucking really?

"Now, it is blasphemy for Democrats," Obama pollster Cornell Belcher said of Reagan, "but that hope and optimism that was Ronald Reagan" allowed him to "transcend" ideological divisions within his own party and the general electorate.

Where the fuck is the strategy in that? It is, oh by the way, a lie. Ronald Reagan ran on resentment and race baiting.

Learn something. You people know not a gawddamn thing about Reagan. It is pathetic.  

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-27 03:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

well, since you ask; let me tell you.

ronald reagan got 25% of democrats to vote for him.

at a time when people were disillusioned he offered a magical view of america that was possible.

when you ask obama about problems he offers a vision of what can be. In Southern Illinois, in an election dominated by social issues, he shared 1million votes with George Bush.

His campaign strategist was talking about Obama being able to get disillusioned rethugs and indies to vote for him.

obama was a civil rights lawyer and he's actually got things done by EMPHASIZING what he shares with  his opponents.

e.g. he met monthly for 3yrs with Illinois police leaders and successfully PASSED the first in the nation law to video-tape capital crime confessions. A new York activist is now championing the Obama bill across the country.

So yes, i'm no 10yr old. he was my state senator and now my US senator.

by pmb 2007-07-27 03:12PM | 0 recs

Belcher said nothing you said but what you say is ridiculous stand alone:

His campaign strategist was talking about Obama being able to get disillusioned rethugs and indies to vote for him.

Was he? And does he or YOU know how Reagan got those types of voters? By resentment and race baiting politics. The shibboleth about hope and optimism is so much bunk. Reagan got white male voters to feel good about their resentments and racism. It is truly unbelievable that you do not know that.

obama was a civil rights lawyer and he's actually got things done by EMPHASIZING what he shares with  his opponents.

By evoking Reagan no doubt.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-27 03:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Ridiculous

"but that hope and optimism that was Ronald Reagan" allowed him to "transcend" ideological divisions within his own party and the general electorate.

yes, the strategist was talking about obama being able to "transcend" race and "ideological" by appealing to people's best impulses.

by pmb 2007-07-27 03:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Ridiculous

Reagan as a model for transcending race now?

Reagan, one of the most ideological Presidents ever, transcended IDEOLOGY?

Reagan appealed to the BEST impulses?

You gotta be fucking kidding me.

This is now bad parody.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-27 03:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

ronald reagan got 25% of democrats to vote for him

Reagan won 44 states.  He had to have more than 25% of Democrats voting for him.

Obama won't get enough crossover votes.

by KimPossible 2007-07-27 04:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

Wrong on both counts.

Reagan won 49 states.

He did not win 25% of the Dem vote.

He won with 95% of the GOP vote.

Around 60% of the Indy vote.

About 18% of the Dem vote.

59% of the total vote.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-27 04:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

In 1984.

I see now you meant 1980.

When he clearly did not win even 15% of the Dem vote.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-27 04:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

Sweetheart, hold your fire.  I'm on your side.  

by KimPossible 2007-07-27 04:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

Exit polls will differ but this (rather stale) ABC News article from '04 Reagan's Appeal Is Greater in Retrospect says ...

Reagan's reputation for popularity probably rests in part on his landslide victories, boosted by the "Reagan Democrats" who rallied to his side -- in ABC News exit polls, he won a quarter of Democratic voters in 1980 and 1984 alike.

Maybe you can quote your source.

by JoeCoaster 2007-07-27 07:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

Interestingly, he won 51% of the TOTAL vote in 1980 and 59% of the total vote in 1984  but the article you read  AS GOSPEL says he won the same amount of Dems in BOTH.

Here's my response, the article is clearly not reliable.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-27 07:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

interesting, ABC News is less reliable them a blogger talking out of their ass.

by JoeCoaster 2007-07-27 08:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

Almost always this is true.

Where have you been for the last decade?

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-28 09:10AM | 0 recs
I found some data

How reliable is VERY hard to say.

Look at this:

 Size '80 Carter '80 Reagan '80 Anderson '76 Carter '76 Ford
Democratic 43 66 26 6 77 22
Independent 23 30 54 12 43 54
Republican 28 11 84 4 9 90

According to this, 43% of the electorate was registered Democrat in 1980. This was clearly the WHY Reagan captured 26% of "Democrats."

Because they were NOT Democrats. If those numbers were right, then Reagan simply performed at slightly better than Ford levels. Reagan got 51%. Ford 48%. How about Nixon? He captured 62%. And in 68, Nixon and Wallace combined captured how many %?

This is part of the big fallacy and you really have helped me clarify my thinking.

Reagan was capturing NIXON voters or put another way (Southern Dem voters.)

It was really all about the Southern Strategy really.

What is this telling

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-27 08:04PM | 0 recs
Yeah a magical view of welfare queens in caddys

buying vodka with food stamps.

by molly bloom 2007-07-27 05:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race
Actually the reference to STRATEGY was the short paragraph used to set up the Belcher quote--
Obama is touting a new and unconventional brand of grass-roots politics, but his strategy borrows from precedents set by a previous generation of Democrats such as Jimmy Carter and Gary Hart. His advisers also invoke as inspiration a surprising Republican: Ronald Reagan.

"Now, it is blasphemy for Democrats," Obama pollster Cornell Belcher said of Reagan, "but that hope and optimism that was Ronald Reagan" allowed him to "transcend" ideological divisions within his own party and the general electorate.
Also a close reader would see that the article author adds some flavor to the comment by referring to it as "inspiration" and by parsing whatever Belcher actually said into 3 seperate small pieces.

Yup Reagan ran on race baiting and resentment. But he also had a way of using less hateful methods for getting peoples attention. Democrat strategists study that and would love to be able to use his communication methods with a Democratic candidate that could use the tactics for constructive purposes.
by Satya 2007-07-27 07:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

Satya, you seem well meaning, but you need to realize there are some images and people who are not subject to parsing. Reagan for the African American community is one of them. I am going to tell you a not particular nice story, but one which illustrates the point. My town votes 70 percent for Republicans. That's what hte white voters there vote. The black ones don't. When Reagan got shot there were literally people throwing who were happy about it. That;'s the level of dislike his policies created.

by bruh21 2007-07-27 07:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race
I was responding to Big Tent Democrat's question, "Where the fuck is the strategy in that?" The source article in question was about strategy. If he couldn't see that the quote's context was about strategy, then did he not read the source article? It was actually a good article.

Wow, 70% republican town is pretty sad. I can see how Dems there might feel like they need to keep their backs to the wall. I grew up in the land of the DFL, Minnesota, and now have the pleasure of living in diverse, Dem-leaning districts in Cook County.

I hope you're not reading between the lines of my post thinking I admire Reagan. I detested him. I know something of the wreckage he left with his policies. I also think the credit people pay him for the dismantling of the Soviet block is ridiculous. (And we're still paying for star wars.) Most of the time when he spoke I kept thinking how much an empty suit he looked. Like a cardboard cutout, like one of his superficial movie roles. I can still remember during one Carter-Reagan debate when he said, "I'm confused".

But still he managed to capture the trust of a lot of Americans with his twinkling eyes and folksy stories. He was building myths. For you and me the myths were the negative kinds: fantasies, delusions, outright lies, hateful destruction. For far too many Americans the myths were the core truths about America.

Reagan's message and myth building was not only about race baiting and exploiting resentments, but it was also about repairing American pride in international spheres. I don't know how old you were then but the outcome of the Vietnam war infected the collective American psyche for quite a while. And just when time begins healing some of the wounds, the Iran hostage crisis and Desert One came along.

Reagan built up a lot of American pride that had suffered. His pull was enough to take 2 elections by healthy margins. So how did he do that? I doubt if the specific strategies were completely new, but he took some things to a new level. I can understand (and share much of) the deep disgust people feel against Reagan. But if he employed strategies that could be used by a decent Dem candidate in a positive way, then lets not overlook it.

For me that doesn't represent honoring Reagan. It represents a suitable revenge against his political heirs.
by Satya 2007-07-27 09:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

my point is simply that if you detest him you must realize so do other democrats, and they won't hear or know the reason why the name was used or read through your explaination. thats politics. things like this are rookie mistakes and they hurt you candidate merely because of the realities of people being people. they aren't going to read that article and they aren't going to have time to figure out what obama meant- all they know is they hate reagan for all the reasons Big Tent mentions and more, and from that point on- you will have an up hill battle in the form of getting your real point across. It's really that simple- once you do damage its harder to clean up after than to have not done the damage in the first place

by bruh21 2007-07-27 10:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

If you think you can parse this with the older voters who typically the voters amongst AAs to show up in primaries and who volunteer etc, then you are mistaken. There many things of which are subject to debate- but I know this isn't one of them.

by bruh21 2007-07-27 07:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race


by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-27 07:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

The idea of Obama evoking Reagan is rather, well, sick.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-27 03:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

your own intellectual dishonesty is equally sickening.

by pmb 2007-07-27 03:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

Is there a bigger group of idiots?

What was intellectually dishonest in this post?

Quote the fucking words that are dishonest?

What a bunch of losers.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-27 03:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

yeah, name-calling.

grow up, really.

by pmb 2007-07-27 03:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

You call me intellectually dishonest and then cry name calling?

You are a pathetic specimen.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-27 03:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

well, if you really believe that the strategist was invoking the politics of reagan then you're intellectually dishonest. and i never insulted you. you were the first to use "fuck", "losers".

by pmb 2007-07-27 03:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

Was he evoking the POLICIES of Reagan then?

What fucking part of Reagan WAS he evoking?

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-27 03:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

"Pmb",just Ignore "big tent democrat"..This guy has clearly attacked you and insulted you...

The guy has clearly lost it and attacking anyone that supports Obama..I think "Big tent democrats" dont want you on his tent apparently.

by JaeHood 2007-07-27 08:59PM | 0 recs
I Lived In California When He Was Governor

I remember him calling the Black Panthers "n$gger fascists."

There was never any doubt he was a racist, despite all the "fair minded" bend-over-backward rationalization to the contrary.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-07-27 03:06PM | 0 recs
Re: I Lived In California When He Was Governor

He was exactly that. And it is disgusting that he is evoked by ANY Democrat.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-27 03:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

Let's spell this out so people can understand it. Reagan won some Democrats over not by "hope and optimism", but by coded appeals to race.

Why Obama and his strategists need to refer to Reagan in any way is beyond me.

by clarkent 2007-07-27 03:17PM | 0 recs
They do not want to know it

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-27 03:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

Because the disasters of the Carter Administration paved the way for Ronald Reagan.  The US was demoralized; All American Ronald Reagan rode in to save the day.  It was tailor made for an actor.

Clearly Obama & his strategists are betting the Bush Administration will do the same for his campaign:  A country demoralized by a war waged for no reason, the politicization of the government, shredding the Constitution--again, a situation tailor made for a campaign built on hope.

by KimPossible 2007-07-27 04:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

Ronald Reagan ran an ideological, partisan, race baiting and divisive camapign.

Is that what Obama has in mind?

Did anyne here actually SEE the effing 1980 campaign?

Amazingly ignorant group.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-27 04:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

I well remember the 1980 campaign.

Reagan used racist code words like "welfare queens" and "strapping young bucks".

He also used idealisitc phrases like "shining city of a hill" to described his optimisic vision of America.

Thinly veiled racism was certainly a part of his strategy/appeal as it had been for Nixon.  

But it is also true that Reagan's optimisitc description of America that was in stark contrast to Carter's dour view of the country's prospects in 1980 was a major reason his landslide victories in '80 and '84.

by Sam I Am 2007-07-28 01:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

I utterly disagree.

You confuse 1984 with 1980.

1980 was classic PAranoid Politics.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-28 09:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

All American Ronald Reagan rode in to save the day.

And Bill Casey had nothing to do with that?

by Michael Bersin 2007-07-27 04:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race
Thanks for spelling this out plainly.
Reagan won by DIVIDING people with the lie that he was uniting them. Perhaps this is why the strategy is something Obama is embracing.
by DoIT 2007-07-27 04:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

thanks big tent once again for pointing this kind of stuff out!

by art3 2007-07-27 03:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

It is pathetic that it needs to be pointed out.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-27 03:26PM | 0 recs
Big Tent, you amaze me. You are so

good at this stuff.  What's your background?  PhD in poli-sci?  I think Obama can just walk away from this strategy...I hope anyway.  If he were to win the nomination and I had to listen to 18 monthes of this, I don't think I could take it.

by bookgrl 2007-07-27 03:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Big Tent, you amaze me. You are so
What's your background?  PhD in poli-sci?

He has a memory and an attention span greater than 30 seconds.
by Michael Bersin 2007-07-27 04:27PM | 0 recs
I'm not sure what that means. I was

just admiring the way he can put these pieces together so quickly, and his political instinct.  

by bookgrl 2007-07-27 06:29PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm not sure what that means.

...a memory and an attention span greater than 30 seconds all it takes for anyone to get it.

by Michael Bersin 2007-07-27 06:50PM | 0 recs
In the South at least, they were the last of the


That alone should be a tip off as to Reagan's appeal.

by molly bloom 2007-07-27 05:52PM | 0 recs
How quick we forget...

or never knew in the first place.

It's obvious that many Obama supporters who laud Reagan never lived through Reagan and the ignorance shows.

Reagan was not only a liar, but started the manipulation of the process by selling a false image that people bought.

His sucessor, George W. Bush, perfected this most cynical of politics:  the uniter, not a divider, the one who would restore honor and integrity to the White House.

This is what Obama wants to use as an example, the way to bait and switch and say things in coded language with a wink?

by citizen53 2007-07-27 03:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

One of the posters here even uses the tagline:  "Obama, the Reagan of the left."   Sickening.  What exactly is the redeeming quality of Reagan?  Nothing.  Aside from Dubya he was the worst politician of our time, even worse than Nixon.  I don't get why Obama and his supporters hold Reagan on this pedestal, something to look up to, emulate, in ANY WAY.   Absolutely weird.

This Obama quote speaks for itself, and explains why Reagan seems like so much of a hero:

"I think that I have the capacity to get people to recognize themselves in each other. I think that I have the ability to make people get beyond some of the divisions that plague our society and to focus on common sense and reason and that's been in short supply over the last several years. I'm not an ideologue, never have been. Even during my younger days when I was tempted by, you know, sort of more radical or left wing politics, there was a part of me that always was a little bit conservative in that sense; that believes that you make progress by sitting down listening to people, recognizing everybody's concerns, seeing other people's points of views and then making decisions."

That is a REAL Obama quote.  "I'm not an ideologue, never have been. Even during my younger days when I was tempted by, you know, sort of more radical or left wing politics, there was a part of me that always was a little bit conservative in that sense; that believes that you make progress by sitting down listening to people, recognizing everybody's concerns, seeing other people's points of views and then making decisions."   Being CONSERVATIVE is equated with "sitting down and listening to people, recognizing everbody's concerns, seeing other people's point of views and then making decisions."   In contrast to being on the radical left, that apparently is wild-eyed, rabid, not able to sit down, not able to view things from all angles.  

And Obama supporters why many on the left have not embraced Obama?    

by georgep 2007-07-27 03:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

Yep, that says it.  I like Obama...but there is something about him that is too willing to gloss over real differences or even real grievances.  For example, someone posted an Obama quote saying: He credits President Reagan's "clarity about communism" but regrets that it "seemed matched by his blindness regarding other sources of misery in the world."  Reagan wasn't blind, he just didn't care.  

by bookgrl 2007-07-27 04:17PM | 0 recs
O'Reagan's Policies

Obama INDEED invoked both the name and the policies of Reagan when he committed to meeting Enemies of the State, individually, without precondition, within the first year of his Presidency.

" Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly spoke to the Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan called them an evil empire."

Unfortunately for Obama, he seemed unaware that Reagan didn't meet with the USSR until his second term and after extensive groundwork with preconditions.

Whatever you say about Obama, he's not one to let facts and details interfere with his soaring rhetoric!

by BigBoyBlue 2007-07-27 05:48PM | 0 recs
Re: O'Reagan's Policies


by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-27 05:51PM | 0 recs
Not unlike Reagan come to think of it

by molly bloom 2007-07-27 06:01PM | 0 recs
How Someone From Chicago--Land of Saul Alinsky

(Rules for Radicals)--could say such a thing is utterly beyond me.

It just reeks of glibness and dishonesty.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-07-28 12:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

Code. Remember this?

Cadillac Queens.
Over a period of about five years, Reagan told the story of the "Chicago welfare queen" who had 80 names, 30 addresses, 12 Social Security cards, and collected benefits for "four nonexisting deceased husbands," bilking the government out of "over $150,000." The real welfare recipient to whom Reagan referred was actually convicted for using two different aliases to collect $8,000. Reagan continued to use his version of the story even after the press pointed out the actual facts of the case to him.

I wonder who Reagan was trying to reach with that story?

by Michael Bersin 2007-07-27 04:04PM | 0 recs
Reagan also came to tell stories...

of characters he played in the movies as if they were real figures and the events actually happened.

by citizen53 2007-07-27 04:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Reagan also came to tell stories...

Does anyone besides me remember Ronald Reagan's Reign of Error?

by molly bloom 2007-07-27 06:03PM | 0 recs
I liked this from one review:

As for greatest President of the 20th century, sorry, but Reagan was one of the worst--he stood by while AIDS became a plague that would take 25,000 American lives during his tenure alone; illegally funded the Contras by selling arms to Iran (and lied about it until the facts wouldn't let him); supported death squads in Central America that committed such noble acts as raping nuns (to which Reagan claimed the rapists were acting in self-defense); poisoning America's political discourse by making it okay to slime and smear opponents at will; making it cool to be a racist again with his "welfare queens" mantra; raping the environment so the rich could get richer; shifting the tax burden mostly to the middle class, who, like idiots, all but thanked him for it; expanding the government into a bigger entity than it had ever been; running up record deficits; removing the Fairness Doctrine from our airwaves and thereby opening them for rabidly partisan hate speech; and--oh yeah--selling biological and chemical weapons to Saddam Hussein.

by citizen53 2007-07-27 06:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

Several other points.  Reagan was a genial but thoroughgoing bully.  He picked on labor unions and decimated the disabled from Social Security programs.  Of course, he also picked on blacks and other minorities and the poor.  He also instigated the biggest recession since the Great Depression.  Yes, there was "Morning in America" because Ronnie brought in the darkness.

His victory in the cold war was part ballyhoo (the strategy that triumphed came from Harry Truman and not Ronald Reagan and had been in effect for around 30 years) came in large measure from spending the Russians (and us) into the ground.  The winners: Asia.

Reagan even got Nancy to go to Johnny Carson to have him stop making jokes about him.  It worked, unfortunately.

Much of his success came about because of the Iran Hostage Crisis which was prolonged because of his actions conniving with the Ayatollah until Ronnie's inauguration day.  When the hostages came home much of the impresssion of weakness and surrender was automatically ended and Ronnie boy reaped the benefits.

One plus.  He would compromise with a Democratic congress at times and was smart enough to bring the Marines back from Lebanon after 200 + were killed.  W would have kept them around in the killing zone.

by David Kowalski 2007-07-27 04:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

It wasn't till much later that Reagan paid off the Iranians with the weapons sale. No one could ever pin it on him but it was obvious to anyone with intelligence. Just another fine example for Obama to follow.

by DoIT 2007-07-27 05:06PM | 0 recs
How About This?

Maybe we could convince MoveOn or any/many other progressive organization(s) to send out a mailing calling on all members to send the Obama campaign a bag of Jellybeans to show our contempt.

by DoIT 2007-07-27 04:35PM | 0 recs

All these Bigot-Lite folks who think they are experts on People of Color are halariously pathetic. No offense, but I'll wait for an EXPERT analisyst of Color to weigh in before I pay attention to an Anti-Obama poster or an UT within my own community.

So, Thanks, but no thanks.

by BlueDiamond 2007-07-27 05:30PM | 0 recs
Oh really?

How about a white boy published at Black Commentator?

If one needs any more evidence that whites and people of color live in two totally different places, politically and psychically, one need only look at the visual evidence provided by the death of Ronald Reagan.

More to the point, all one needs to know about this man and his Presidency can be gleaned by looking even haphazardly at the racial and ethnic makeup of the crowds flocking to his ranch, or his library to pay tribute. So too will it be apparent from the assemblage lining the streets of DC for his funeral procession, or gathering in the Capitol Rotunda to pay respects to their departed hero.

They are, and will be - in case you missed it or are waiting for the safest prediction in the history of prognostication - white. Far whiter, one should point out, than the nation over which Reagan presided, and even more so than the nation into whose soil he will be deposited within a matter of days.

While persons of color make up approximately 30 percent of the population of the United States, the Reagan faithful look like another country altogether. As they gathered in Simi Valley - home of the 40th President's library, as well as the jury that thought nothing of the police beating of Rodney King - one wonders if they noticed the incongruity between themselves and the rest of the state in which they live: a state called California, where people like them are slightly less than half the population now.

Doubtful. Most of them, after all, are quite used to never seeing black and brown folks, since the vast majority of whites live in communities with virtually no people of color around them.

That the mourners wouldn't notice the overwhelming monochromy of their throng is no surprise. But it has been more than a little interesting that no intrepid reporter - or at least someone pretending to be such a creature - has thought to ask the obvious question about the racial makeup of those losing sleep over the death of Ronald Reagan, versus those who frankly aren't.

After all, there are really only two possible interpretations of the sanguine reaction by people of color to Reagan's death: namely, either black and brown folks are poster children for insensitivity, or perhaps they know something that white folks don't, or would rather ignore.

The former of these is not likely - after all, millions of black folks actually forgave George Wallace for God's sake when he did a partial mea culpa for his racist past before his death - but the latter is as certain as rain in Seattle.

What white folks ignore, but what most black folks can never forget, is how Reagan opposed the Civil Rights Act at the time of its passage, calling it an unwarranted intrusion on the rights of businesses, and never repudiated his former stand.

Or that as Governor of California, Reagan dismissed the struggle for fair and open housing, by saying that blacks were just "making trouble" and had no intention of moving into mostly white neighborhoods.

Perhaps they have a hard time forgetting that of all the places Reagan could have begun his campaign for the Presidency in 1980, he had to choose Philadelphia, Mississippi: a town famous only for the 1964 murder of three civil rights workers. And perhaps they recall that the focus of his speech that day was "state's rights," a longstanding white code for rolling back civil rights gains and longing for the days of segregation.

Maybe they have burned in their memories the way Reagan attacked welfare programs with stories of "strapping young bucks" buying T-Bone steaks, while hardworking taxpayers could only afford hamburger, or how Reagan fabricated a story about a "welfare queen" from Chicago with 80 names, 30 addresses, and 12 Social Security cards, receiving over $150,000 in tax-free income. That Reagan picked Chicago as the site of this entirely fictional woman, and not some mostly white rural area where there were plenty of welfare recipients too, was hardly lost on African Americans.

Perhaps black folks and other people of color remember the words of former Reagan Education Secretary Terrell Bell, who noted in his memoir how racial slurs were common among the "Great Communicator's" White House staffers, including common references to Martin Lucifer Coon, and "sand niggers."

Perhaps they recall that Reagan supported tax exemptions for schools that discriminated openly against blacks.

Perhaps they recall how his Administration cut funds for community health centers by 18 percent, denying three-quarters-of-a-million people access to services; how they cut federal housing assistance by two-thirds, resulting in the loss of about 200,000 affordable units for renters in urban areas.

Or how Reagan opposed sanctions against the racist South African regime, and even denied that apartheid, under which system blacks could not vote, was racist, noting that its policies were "more tribal than racial."

. . . That whites would view much of this as irrelevant, even whining or sour grapes on the part of communities of color, is only proof positive that for many if not most such folks, the opinions of, and even the humanity of black and brown persons with whom they share a nation is of secondary importance to the fact that Reagan - as many have been gushing these past few days - "made them feel good again."

But how can healthy people feel good about a leader who does and says the kinds of things mentioned above? Obviously the answer is by denying that racism matters, or that its victims count for anything. Even more cynically, it is no doubt true that for many of them, it was precisely Reagan's policy of hostility to people of color that made them feel good in the first place. By 1980, most whites were already tiring of civil rights and were looking for someone who would take their minds off such troubling concepts as racism, and instead implore them to "greatness," however defined, and "pride," however defined, and flag waving.

Whites have long been more enamored of style than substance, of fiction than fact, of fantasy than reality. It's why we have clung so tenaciously to the utterly preposterous version of our national history peddled by textbooks for so long; and it's why we get so angry when anyone tries to offer a correction.

It's why we choose to believe the lie about the U.S. being a shining city on a hill, rather than a potentially great but thoroughly flawed place built on the ruins and graves of Native peoples, built by the labor of enslaved Africans, enlarged by theft and murder and an absolute disregard for non-European lives.

As Randall Robinson points out in his recent book, Quitting America, when such subjects are broached, the operative response from much of the white tribe is little more than, "Oh, that."

Yes white man, that. That exactly. That thing we were raised to gloss over, to speak of in hushed tones, as if by our diminished volume or failure to audibilize it, it will go away; that perhaps they will forget about it, and instead join with us in praise of our country, since that is most definitely how so many of us envision it.

White people, especially those who are upper-middle class and above, have no reason on Earth to be aware of the truth, let alone to dwell on it. The truth is, after all, so messy, so littered with the bodies of dead Nicaraguans, and dead Haitians murdered by Duvalier while Reagan stood by him; so soiled by his support for Saddam Hussein. Better to ignore all that, and to go mushy before the pictures of Reagan in his cowboy hat, to remember a President who, for all of his murderous policies abroad and contempt for millions at home, at least never got a blow job in the Oval Office.

This is the twisted psychosis of growing up privileged, as a member of the dominant group: a group that must view their nation as fair and just, as a place struck off by the literal hand of God, as a place where "average" guys like Ronald Reagan can become "great leaders." As a place where an "aw shucks" smile, and a profound lack of knowledge about the details of public policy - or even the names of foreign leaders - is not only not cause for embarrassment, but yet another good reason to vote for someone; where refusing to read up on important policy details prior to a key international meeting so one can watch The Sound of Music on TV, is seen as endearing rather than cause for a recall.

This is why we get people like George W. Bush, for those who haven't figured it out yet. Oh sure, vote fraud and a pliant Supreme Court help, but were it not for the love affair white Americans have with mediocrity posing as leadership, things never could have gotten this far.

It's why a bona fide moron like Tom DeLay can brag about not having a passport (because, after all, why would anyone want to travel abroad and leave "Amur'ca," even for a day) and not be seen as the epitome of a blithering idiot, and why he could probably be elected again and again in thousands of white dominated congressional districts in this country, and not merely in Texas.

Having to grapple with the real world is stressful, and people with relative power and privilege never know how to deal with stress very well. As such, they long for and applaud easy answers for the stress that occasionally manages to intrude upon their lives: so they blame people of color for high taxes, failing schools, crime, drugs, and jobs they didn't get; they blame terrorism on "evil," and the notion that they hate our freedoms: a belief one can only have if one really thinks one lives in a free country in the first place.

In other words, delusion is both the fuel that propels people like Ronald Reagan forward in political life, and then makes a rational assessment of his legacy impossible upon his death.

I think this is why so many white people remember him fondly, and are truly crestfallen at the thought of his physical obsolescence: simply put, much of white America needs Ronald Reagan; a father figure to tell them everything is going to be O.K.; a kindly old Wizard of Oz, to assure them that image and reality are one, even when the more cerebral parts of our beings tend towards an opposite conclusion.

With Reagan gone, maintaining the illusion becomes more difficult.

But knowing white folks - I am after all one of them, and have been surrounded by them all of my life - I have little doubt that where there's a will to remain in la-la land, we will surely find a way.

Reagan has been released from the lie, finally, and may his soul find peace among the millions of dearly departed victims of his policies around the world.

Meanwhile, the rest of us must pull back the curtain on all phony heroes, Reagan among them, lest we create many millions more.

Or does that no convince you? Actually fools like you will never get it.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-27 05:46PM | 0 recs

I'm african american and i can prove it by going on webcam,make a youtube video and post it here...I dare all the so call Edwards/hillary fans that says they are AA to do so before acting like expert on AA culture....

I hate when people who never stepped one foot in a black neighborhood before,talk like they know something about African American lives...This kind of stuff is just ignorant and it's not funny...

You have Anti-Obama partisans acting like they are expert on how black people thinks and to make it worst,must of them are white...Nothing against white people,but when i see white folks acting like they're experts on black culture,i just get irritated..That stuff offends me beyond beliefs.

by JaeHood 2007-07-27 09:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Exactly

i am african american. i lived in a black neighborhood growing up in the rural south. i now live in an all black lower working class neighborhood facing gentrification. dont speak down to peo just because they say you are wrong on this- you simply don't have facts on your side if its your position that black people will accept reagan anlaogies in any form. i talked to a few black conservatives today and they to the person said this is stupid and bad politics- they were your most sympathetic types in terms of the arguments you have made here and it failed on them too. they question the greenness of obama for saying things like this. i do this occaionally when peo keep tellin gme that up is down and down is up. and thats what you and others have been posting along this and the other thread. so please stop spinning your bullshit as fact.

by bruh21 2007-07-27 10:19PM | 0 recs
Speak for yourself. Obama is not Green,

Some AA like you despise Obama because his father was African and his mother white. Big Tent is wrong and so are you.

by ameri 2007-07-28 05:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Speak for yourself. Obama is not Green,

please get some emotional help and stop posting on blogs

by bruh21 2007-07-28 05:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Speak for yourself. Obama is not Green,

Must you be rude and insulting? That speaks for itself. Have a nice weekend.

Obama wins by a landslide. Goooooooooooooooood Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

by ameri 2007-07-28 06:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Speak for yourself. Obama is not Green,

you deserve insults. if you come here talking in bullshit i respond in kind. if you want respect, give it.

by bruh21 2007-07-28 06:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Speak for yourself. Obama is not Green,

Nice argument and insult and then you get mad when you get it back?

Really awful.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-28 09:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Speak for yourself. Obama is not Green,

Wrong about Ronald Reagan?
Fuck all.

Stop with the bullshit.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-28 09:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Exactly

AA LOVED Ronald Reagan.

This is the Obama supporter who brings detriment to all of them.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-28 09:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

It belies me that any Obama supporter, or any Democrat, would not be alarmed by this Reagan reference put out by Obama's campaign.  

I am still reeling over the fact that Obama rarely even mentions the words Democrat or Democratic in his speeches.  

Well you know, I don't think Obama will beat Hillary.  I just don't.  But God help us if he does.  Enigmatic personalities are very interesting, but Obama has been throwing up so many red flags that he has me nervous as hell.

by Regan 2007-07-27 05:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

Cluelessness is what I see.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-27 06:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

That maybe true, but his supporters are pretty much willing to support him no matter what. They scare me because they remind me of Bush supporters. No amount of action or behavior for them is above justifying and spinning as acceptable. No leader should have this kind of blind support where even if one give sadvice such as Armstrong gave meant on some levels to point out how to help Obama's campaing, but instead is met with out and out made up fantasies and delusions about how AAs will react to this. I can't imagine anyone who wants to help Obama win would support this, but yet, there they are making the flimsy case.

by bruh21 2007-07-27 07:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

This is a quadrennial experience bruh.

I would do the same when I was bonkers for Clark.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-27 07:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

i am in my thirds- being boinkers for a candidate seems well down right twentysomething to me

by bruh21 2007-07-27 08:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

No wonder why Obama decided to not advertise here...I dont blame him because this blog has become the "anti-obama" hub...That's so sad to see.

We're now seeing Edwards and Hillary fan teaming up to say every that pictures him in a bad lights.

To Obama supporters here,just ignore the Edwards-Hillary partisans, just post your pro-Obama diary and do not bother gettiing in a fight with them.

by JaeHood 2007-07-27 09:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama not advertising here

So Obama will advertise only where he already had supporters, but not where he might need to convince people?  Interesting strategy.  
Reaching across the aisle?  I guess not.

I find it interesting that Obama supporters are not willing to debate points or concede well put arguments.  

Big Tent Democrat said nothing against Obama except that it was not a wise strategy to compare himself to Reagan in any fashion.  
In doing so he perpetuates a false myth about Reagan which does Democrats no good.  
Also it reveals a lack of understanding the true divisive nature of Reagan.  

When I first heard this comparison, I thought it was someone that was trying to damage Obama's campaign.  
I did not think it was a comparison that was embraced by Obama.

by pioneer111 2007-07-27 10:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama not advertising here

thats my thing- they are so fucking blind to their own hubris that they dont even realize that they are hurting themselves. in a way. at this point afte the reaction by his so called supporters on this blog- i kind of just want to sit back watcht them fuck themselves over.

by bruh21 2007-07-27 10:21PM | 0 recs
Obama need not advertise here because

it is like the Democrats giving Fox News a reason to exist. You do the math.

Edwards' campaign is in his last throes, so you can discount him. Even Rachael Maddow of Air America made fun of Edwards in CNN last night.

by ameri 2007-07-28 06:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

Nice substance.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-28 09:16AM | 0 recs
The only thing I can think of is

that some Obama supporters are too young to really know much about Reagan and seem to have bought a lot of the hype that was sold by his apologists after his presidency.

His rhetoric was as empty as Bush's compassionante conservatism. He was a divider just like Bush is.

If I was an Obama supporter this would be one of the last people on earth I would compare Obama too and certainly wouldn't want others to. Its a real insult to Obama really, who is nothing like Reagan at all.

by okamichan13 2007-07-27 09:46PM | 0 recs
Re: The only thing I can think of is

we've been trying to make that point most of today and the response has mostly been we are bashing obama and that african americans will accept the analogy. as one of my friends who hsared this with said to me today- are they crazy? i couldn't answer him.

by bruh21 2007-07-27 10:22PM | 0 recs
More than anyone else

I think African-Americans rejected Ronald Reagan. If the Obama campaign or his supporters want to compare Obama to Reagan and think that's a winning strategy then they have already lost.

by okamichan13 2007-07-29 12:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Ronald Reagan and Race

Sureeeee, and you Edwards and Hillary partisans are soooooo objective when it comes to Obama....Jesus christ..Who are you kidding here?

Maybe i should bash Edwards because of the fact he didnt attend the LaRaza forum...Maybe Edwards doesnt like Latino or maybe he feels Latino voters arent important or not smart enough to vote for the best candidate...Then i could explain to you that i'm just trying to help him shake off his racism toward latino...I'm sure all the Edwards partisans would jump on my throat for mentioning that Edwards hates latino and im just trying to help him out.

You get it?...Not that i believe Edwards did not attend the LaRaza forum because he doesnt care about latino voters since he had previously attended some kind latino forum in orlando, but the point is that any Edwards partisan could write a diary bashing Obama and act like he's just trying to help him...Yeah right...No Edwards or Hillary partisans wants to help Obama win this nomination, and i dont blame them for anti-obama diaries...As an Edwards partisan, why would you help him out??...It'll only help your candidate if Obama keeps making mistakes.

My main point is, please, we're not dumb...I understand the anti-obama diaries..But trying to pretend that you're being objective by saying you just want to help Obama;is just laughable.

I dont have a problem twith this particular diary, but my problem is that the guy who wrote it really thinks i should take him as some kind of neutral party.

by JaeHood 2007-07-27 11:47PM | 0 recs

Also, i want to state that the only partisan on this board that i think is somewhat objective on this board is desmoinedem...She's a very partisan Edwards fan, but i've seen her write some very objective stuff about Obama, once in a while.....

Dont get me wrong here, she has made some anti-Obama comments, but at least, she tries to balance it out when she sees Obama doing something good.

After desmoinedem, i wouldnt trust any Edwards or Hillary partisan on Mydd...ALL of them are rabbit partisan that will jump on Obama's neck just to destroy him and i really have no problem with that since they feel like it'll benefit their favorite candidate.

I've also noticed that Kos is being a bit more fair on his coverage of Obama...He used to be just like Jerome where he'll go out of his way to take cheap shots at Obama, but now, i'm seeing him post some more objective stuff about Obama.....McJoan used to also act like Jerome, but now,but i havent seen anything like her previous behavior toward Obama lately.

by JaeHood 2007-07-28 12:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Des.moine.dems

"favorable" does not equal "objective." You write as though any comment on Obama must be either positive or a criticism balanced out with praise.

by clarkent 2007-07-28 02:01AM | 0 recs
Reagan Loved the United States

Though I despised him as president but admired his optimism. Big Tent Does not like Obama and will use every trick or any little thing in the world to get converts.

Whites used the Bible to foster Slavery. Most right thinking people believe that slavery was evil, does that mean that the Bible is evil. If you take Big Ten's analysis to its logical end, the Bible is evil.

Even if we believe that Reagan was Racist, Reagan signed Martin Luther King Holiday into Law he could have vetoed and his veto not over ridden. And grudgingly he helped dismantle Apartheid in South Africa.

Common Big Tent, don't infect your hatred for Obama on Others. We are all Democrats.

by ameri 2007-07-28 05:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Reagan Loved the United States

as i say above- some of you clearly have hero worship- respond to the criticism or don't waste your time and ours.

by bruh21 2007-07-28 05:56AM | 0 recs

Ronald Reagan is in the bible? I thought that was Charleton Heston.

by Michael Bersin 2007-07-28 07:55AM | 0 recs
This is a realy dumb comment

My hatred is of Ronald Reagan.

Did you see my previous diary btw?

Fuick no. You are so blinded or stupid that you can not even deal with an argument.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-07-28 09:18AM | 0 recs


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