Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
A recent article in The Birmingham News noted that Democrats, in the wake of the midterm elections, might be nearing extinction in Alabama. That makes you wonder if the same could hold true in other states.
It's an absurd notion, of course. Nothing reminds voters of Democrats' good qualities like several years of Republican rule. But the News' article raises a deeper issue that definitely is worth pondering.
It notes the profound impact of race on the rise of the Republican Party in Alabama--and elsewhere. And that raises this troubling question: Has America's white majority become so addled and agitated with race-based fears that it is incapable of making rational decisions to address the nation's problems?
We can't ponder that question without thinking back to "White America Has Lost Its Mind," a Village Voice article from a couple of months ago. Writer Steven Thrasher presented Sarah Palin, Christine O'Donnell, Glenn Beck, and other right-wing luminaries as evidence that white people in America are playing with a few loose shingles.
Thrasher's piece is alternately alarming and entertaining, and here is his central theory: White Americans started going around the bend when Barack Obama was elected president in November 2008.
In our minds, Thrasher definitely was onto something--and the midterm results seem to confirm it. But we can't help but ask this question: Did the unraveling of white America begin way before the rise of Barack Obama?
Thrasher's piece was a fascinating read before the election, and it might be an even more enlightening read now. But we're not sure that we agree with Thrasher's core theory. In fact, we would argue that he is being way too kind toward white Americans. We submit that signs of mental instability were present in our "honky precincts" long before most of us had ever heard of Barack Obama.
I feel qualified to comment on this subject because: (A) I am definitely a honky; and (B) Before finally pulling my head out of a certain orifice in the early 1990s, I was part of the problem. It shames me now to write these words, but I voted Republican through much of the 1980s. Do I have an explanation for this depraved behavior? Nope--other than, "I must have temporarily lost my mind."
You see, I know what it's like to have your mind twisted by the conservative noise machine. Been there, done that. But I think Thrasher is mistaken if he thinks it started with Barack Obama.
The Birmingham News , in its assessment of Alabama Democrats, seems to agree with me. Here is how reporter Charles J. Dean opens his piece:
What do dinosaurs and Democrats have in common?
They once roamed Alabama.
That's one of the jokes making the rounds after what was a triumphant election for Alabama Republicans and a disaster for state Democrats.