>Conventional wisdom says the Republican Party is hopelessly divided: some conservatives don’t like John McCain, candidates are battling over who’s the true conservative, who represents the legacy of Reagan, James Dobson says he cannot vote for McCain, Ann Coulter claims she’ll support Hillary, and now Newsweek is running a cover story “There Will Be Blood” chronicling the the divisions within the Republican Party.
That is not what this post is about. While all the media attention is focused on the supposed crack-up of the Republican Party, the Democrat Party is divided on a much more troubling level. While Republicans are arguing over policy differences, Democrats are divided along racial lines. Republican voters are choosing between moderate-conservative and conservative while Democrats have divided themselves according to race, class, and gender. The chickens seem to be coming home to roost as the party that most often exploits these divisions to their advantage is now struggling with them.
In an article entiteld Race, Gender Divide Democratic Voters, Alan Fram writes, “Though insisting race and gender have little to do with it, many Democrats are supporting the presidential candidate who looks most like them. Super Tuesday polls showed clear racial and sexual divisions between backers of the two candidates hoping for historic firsts: Hillary Rodham Clinton, seeking to become the first female president, and Barack Obama, trying to become the first black commander in chief.” He continues, “Two-thirds of Clinton’s supporters on Tuesday were white and nearly as many were female, compared with just slightly over half for Obama. That’s an advantage for Clinton because whites and women dominate Democratic voting — 61 percent of the party’s Super Tuesday voters were white, and 57 percent were female, the exit polls showed.” And, “Three in 10 Obama voters Tuesday were black, compared with one in 20 of Clinton’s. He won three of the four states where at least a quarter of the voters were black, prevailing in Alabama, Delaware and Georgia but losing Tennessee.”
Democrats are not just divided between black and white but also black and hispanic. Amy Goldstein of the Washington Post writes in Democrats’ Votes Display a Racial Divide, “Yesterday’s primary voting [Super Tuesday] laid bare a profound racial and ethnic divide among Democratic voters, with African Americans overwhelmingly preferring Sen. Barack Obama and Latinos largely favoring Sen. Hillary Clinton.”
In Crossing the Great Divide, Anne Davies reports, “The gender divide is also important. Clinton is still doing significantly better than Obama among women — for example, in California she got 61% of the female vote to 36% to Obama (the rest went to John Edwards, whose name was still on the ballot). In state after state, she has demonstrated that she has particular appeal for working class women, provided they are not African-American. She is also doing better with older women.”
Democrats are also divided along economic and educational lines.
Republicans are divided right now but we are divided over ideology and voting records. The GOP is the party of Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr. (a Republican), the Civil Rights Act of 1957 (pushed by Eisenhower, opposed by JFK) and all civil rights legislation from the 1860s-1960s, and the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution. We are the party of personal responsibility, prosperity, and liberty for all people regardless of race, age, or social and economic class.
The GOP may have some divisions during this primary season but we’re divided over the relative strength of our ideas. The primary season is the time to air these differences within the party. And our differences are relatively small compared to the differences we have with Democrats.
Meanwhile, the Democrats are struggling with the fact that whites are voting for Clinton while blacks are voting for Obama. African-Americans are voting for Obama while Hispanics are supporting Clinton. Women, especially working class women, are going for Clinton while the more affulent and college-educated are behind Obama.
While the divisions within the GOP are over differences in policy, Clinton and Barack are very similar on the issues: according to Kenneth Walsh of US News & World Report, “Both have taken roughly similar stands on issues ranging from more federal spending on social programs to increasing taxes on the rich, gradually withdrawing from Iraq, emphasizing more diplomacy in foreign affairs, and overhauling the healthcare system to include more people at affordable costs. But they are appealing to different constituencies with entirely different leadership styles.” Rather than dividing over principle, the Democrats are dividing over age, color, sex, and class.
With the nation just two weeks removed from remembering the dream of one day living in a nation where we will not be judged by the color of our skin but by the content of our character, I’d rather be divided over ideas and principles than race, sex, and social class.