Wednesday, November 05, 2003
We need a serious discussion on race in this country http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/11/05/elec04.prez.dean.flag/
"I believe that we have one flag in this country -- the flag of the United States of America... I believe that the flag of the Confederate States of America is a painful symbol and reminder of racial injustice and slavery which Lincoln denounced from here over 150 years ago. I do not condone the use of the flag of the Confederate States of America... We're not going to win this country, and even worse, Democrats, if we don't have a big tent. This country needs to engage in a serious discussion about race and that everyone must participate in that discussion. I started this discussion in a clumsy way. This discussion will be painful and I regret the pain that I may have caused either to African-American or Southern white voters in the beginning of this discussion. But we need to have this discussion in an honest, open way."
We won't progress as a country until we all sit down at the same table and begin talking. Slamming each other doesn't work, dehumanising those with whom we disagree doesn't work, and pretending that racism is not a problem certainly does not work. I am Southern - born and raised - and I am grateful that someone has finally decided to step up the plate and start this dialogue. So here's what I'd like to see. I lifted this comment from the OBlog late last night and posted it over in the RTV thread:
A few months ago, some of the other candidates in this race got upset because I said I was the only one who was willing to go down south and talk straight about race. They claimed they were, too. Well I'm talking straight about race, and they're all trying to make the same old argument about political correctness. For the last 55 years, ever since Harry Truman desegregated the US military, there has been a group of white people fomenting racism in the south for political gain. At first, it was the Dixiecrats, who ran Strom Thurmond for President, we all remember that from the Trent Lott comment. We remember Southern governors standing in front of school doorways saying they would never desegregate their schools. Schools and churches were bombed. Black people were lynched. Richard Nixon took advantage of that hatred instead of trying to heal it. He had a strategy, his "Southern Strategy" he called it, and the Republicans have been doing it ever since. They go down south, and under the radar, they get the word out to poor white guys that the immigrants and the black people are taking your job. And if their not taking your job they're sittin' on their asses popping out babies and livin' off your tax dollars. Republicans foment racism in the south just like Dixiecrats did... they just do it a little quieter than they used to, using code words. Senator Edwards said I was stereotyping southern white people and I should apologize. Last year in Georgia, a popular Democratic incumbent got beat for Governor when the Republican party went down to Georgia and started a fight about the Confederate flag. That was so successful that they're doing it again in South Carolina even as we speak. They got poor white people and poor black people arguing about the confederate flag while they give all the tax money to Bush's rich friends; while class sizes get bigger in our schools; while the budget deficit threatens Social Security and Medicare; while the corporations poison our air and our water; while the President lies us into a war in Iraq. I'm talking directly to those people with the confederate flag stickers... and Sen Edwards is right, it's not everybody, but it's a decent-sized group... I do want their support. I want you to see that the Republican party has targeted you and gotten you to vote against your interest by pushing racism. I want you to see that it isn't the black man or the immigrant keeping you from getting a job, it's corporate America taking the jobs to sweatshops in Asia. It's not a black woman living high on the hog with your tax dollars, it's Ken Lay and his friends at Enron, it's Dick Cheney and his buddies at Halliburton. It's time that somebody called the Republican Party out on the game they play in the South. I'm that guy. I'm talking to the Confederate flag wavers; I'm telling them they've been lied to; I'm asking them to peel that sticker off of their truck and replace it with a "Proud to be a Democrat, Party of FDR and Harry Truman" sticker. I will not apologize for calling the Republican Party out. I challenge the members of my party to do the same.
Posted by Rosie in TN at November 4, 2003 10:06 PM
To the supporters of the other candidates who regularly lurk on this blog, I hope this clarifies where we and Howard Dean are coming from. Nobody here is a racist, nobody here is a bigot, and nobody here is practising exclusionary politics. Quite the contrary, as we are trying to include everyone in the discussion, even those people who might be considered "traditional enemies". Why? Because America works better when we all work together. Dean has been saying that since late last year, and he's been talking about racism in America the entire time. His message has always been one of inclusion and little-D democracy. It's stupid for the Democratic party (or any candidate) to write off southerners as lost to the Republican party. I believe yesterday's elections of Republican governors in both Kentucky and Mississippi validates my point. If we continue to cede the south, we will continue to see Democrats lose down here. We must make a play for these voters and honestly make the case about why they need to come back to the Democratic Party. There are plenty of southerners who don't fly the stars and bars, and we have been fighting the good fight down here for quite some time. But without the support of the national Democratic party, it's damned near fruitless. And many of us are sick and tired of losing races down here and seeing decades of progress wiped away by the southern Republicans leadership. It's about time that someone made a case for true southern and northern unification, and that's exactly what Dean is trying to do. Are we clear? If not, feel free to post any questions you might have in the comments section, but as far as I'm concerned this settles it. If the other candidates continue to try and distort our message and intent, I'm taking the gloves off. But for now, let's try and have an actual dialogue.
update: There seems to be some misunderstanding in the comments about this post, so I'll clarify. This is not a statement by Dr Dean. Rosie in Tennessee posted this on the Oblog as an example of what she'd like to hear Dean say about race in the South.
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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.