A reader writes:
I have been reading you for years because of your wit, your balance, and your interjections of sanity into politics and human events. Thank you for that. Here comes the big but: What is with the reliance on racism as the motivating factor behind wanting a change in the White House? I'm sure there are some individuals motivated by race, but it sure seems that in the last week you are leaning on that argument much too heavily. There are plenty of us who supported Obama's vision in 2008 who simply have been disappointed with the results. I wish the man no ill will and certainly do not hold his race against him. Using racism as an excuse for the erosion in his support among white men is cheap, dismissive and intellectually dishonest. Suddenly all of us white guys who voted for him in 2008 have discovered our latent racism and decided to let it out now?
Your implied point is that white Southerners who vote Republican are racist. That is not only insulting and derogatory, but it incites the type of "Cold Civil War" you have accused white Southerners of launching.
I was merely citing a just-released AP study that estimated that racism would cost Obama five points among whites and win him three points from non-whites. I also noted the report's findings that Republicans are far more blatantly racist in attitudes than Democrats. In a knife-edge race, of course that is relevant. As to the geography and increased racial polarization in this election, does my reader think it's pure accident that the first states to go from Obama to Romney were all in the South? And that the map we now have even more closely resembles the Civil War map than 2008?
I'm sure many of those whites are voting because the last four years have seen an agonizingly slow recovery from the massive debt build-up and financial crash of the Bush-Cheney years. I said that to George Will. But the Southern strategy is not my invention. And the map shows it has now reached the apogee of Nixon's dream. The GOP now represents most of the Confederacy states, and has lost the West as a result (Nixon's and Reagan's home-base), and much of the Northeast. Lincoln would look at today's GOP and see Democratic Dixie.