Ethnopolitics Ethnic and Racial Implications of the 2000 Election - Part II

By Samuel Francis
Published in The Social Contract
Volume 11, Number 3 (Spring 2001)
Issue theme: "George W. Bush, last Republican president? And does it matter?"

The Democrats under Al Gore, by contrast, made every effort to cut into the Republicans' white political base. They did so by deploying what during the campaign was called the "class war" strategy, denouncing Big Business (Big Oil, Big Tobacco, Big Drug companies), vowing free prescription drugs and health care for the elderly, and appealing to white union members. Washington Post political reporter Thomas Edsall noted this strategy during the campaign:

"Gore's success in making inroads with working-class voters, especially white men, has been crucial to his improved standing in the battleground states of Michigan, Ohio and Missouri that hold the balance of power in the 2000 election," Edsall wrote in September 2000. "Among all voters in each of these states, Democrat Gore is either fully competitive with, or slightly ahead of Texas Gov. Bush, the Republican nominee." Although Gore lost in two of these states, the strength of his challenge to Bush in them forced his rival to divert resources and attention he might have deployed elsewhere.

One reason that Gore did not in the end do better among white voters, according to Edsall, is that Gore's "...George W. Bush won the election not because his "compassionate conservatism," "Big Tent," or "Rainbow Republicanism" mobilized a majority of voters or attracted non-whites but because the political left was split between the Democrats and the Naderites."support for gun control weakened his appeal to blue-collar white male voters and that intensive anti-Gore efforts by the National Rifle Association prevented him from winning more of their support. "The problem for Democrats," Edsall reported in October, "is that gun control is unpopular among many of the swing voters both campaigns are targeting in the final weeks of the campaign, particularly in battleground states - such as Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania - with a sizable bloc of hunters and other gun enthusiasts." As a result, Gore began to moderate his anti-gun rhetoric and back away from his support for gun control. Pollster Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center, noted that "Gore's decision to de-emphasize gun control may be based on poll trends that show a reduction in the overall support for gun control, especially among men."

Nevertheless, Gore's populist strategy did seek to appeal to white working class voters and thereby cut into the political base of his opponent. Coupled with his success in winning non-white voting blocs through appeals to racial fears and animosity, his strategy did win the popular vote for president and lost the electoral vote only because of the Nader challenge and after a series of agonizing recounts and court battles in Florida.

The conclusion is inescapable: George W. Bush won the election not because his "compassionate conservatism," "Big Tent," or "Rainbow Republicanism" mobilized a majority of voters or attracted non-whites but because the political left was split between the Democrats and the Naderites. The Democrats won the popular vote and, despite the Naderite rebellion, nearly won the election because they explicitly appealed to and made use of the racial solidarity and racial consciousness that drives the majority of non-white voters, while at the same time using white working class economic anxieties to attract white voters and cut into their opponents' neglected political/demographic base.

For all the rhetoric of the "new Republicans" about winning non-whites, the lesson of the 2000 election for the GOP ought to be clear as well: Trying to win non-whites, especially by abandoning issues important to white voters, while neglecting, abandoning, or alienating whites, is the road to political suicide. The natural and logical strategy of the Republican Party in the future is to seek to maximize its white vote as much as possible.

The ethnic and racial analysis of the 2000 presidential election carries special implications for advocates of immigration reform and control. Either the Republicans or any other party able and willing to do so could attract the white votes that are the backbone of the GOP by embracing issues like immigration control and supporting a long-term moratorium on legal immigration, terminating welfare and other public benefits for immigrants, seeking the abolition of affirmative action, and working for the repeal of "hate crime" laws, the end of multiculturalism, and similar policies. Not only would such issues mobilize white voters legitimately concerned about the impact of mass immigration on themselves and their communities and nation, but terminating mass immigration would also slow down or halt the formation of new ethnically and racially driven bloc constituencies that immigration imports into American politics. The Republicans or any other party making use of this strategy could thus become and remain a majority party by appealing to and seeking to raise white racial consciousness; they do not have to do so and should not do so by appealing to irrational racial fears and animosities. Rather, they can and legitimately should encourage white voters to (1) perceive that they as a group are under threat from the racial and demographic trends in this country and the racial politics those trends indicate and (2) believe that the Republican Party (or an alternative political vehicle) will consistently support them and their interests against this threat.

Advocates of Rainbow Republicanism will argue that this strategy is not possible or desirable, that it will only promote racial divisions, and that attracting more white voters than the Republicans now are able to win is not a practical goal. This line of argument is invalid. Racial animosity is already being inflamed - by the Democrats' willingness to exploit anti-white sentiments and by racial demagogues like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the NAACP, and analogous Hispanic racial extremists. The only force that can quell or check this kind of anti-white racism is the solidarity of whites against it and against those who try to use it for political gain.

As for the possibility of winning more white votes, it is entirely feasible, as the 67 percent and 64 percent white majorities won by Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan in 1972 and 1984 show. It is quite true that neither Nixon nor Reagan ever did much to address white concerns once they had won their votes, but a political leader who actually did seek to address such concerns could surely win that level of white support again. Some 82 percent of the 102 million Americans who voted in the election of 2000 were white; George W. Bush won 54 percent of them, or about 45 million. Had he won 65 percent of white voters, he would have won more than 54 million white votes, or 9 million more votes than he did win. There is no reason why that or even higher levels of white support are not possible.

Indeed, even that level of white support is not essential for decisive Republican political victory. As Steve Sailer showed in an analysis for Peter Brimelow's website last fall, if Bush had cultivated his natural base and increased his share of the white vote by only a few percentage points, he would have won the election overwhelmingly. If, instead of 54 percent, he had won 57 percent (his father won 59 percent in 1988), he would have won an electoral college landslide of 367 to 171. What if winning another 3 percent of the white vote had required appeals that scared away so many non-whites that their support dropped by more than a third, from 21 percent to 13 percent? Bush still would have won comfortably, with 310 electoral votes to 228. Even if by increasing his percentage of the white vote by 3 percentage points Bush had reduced the number of his non-white supporters to zero, he still would have wound up with a tie in the electoral college. Mr. Sailer points out that 92 percent of Bush's votes came from whites; it is suicidal folly for the Republicans to abandon the issues and strategies that attract these voters in pursuit of non-white Republicans who never materialize.

Brimelow himself has noted that, for all the Republican foreboding about the growing Hispanic and non-white presence in the electorates of California and other states, Southern whites now and historically have had to confront even larger racial disparities in the electorates of their own states. Blacks in the South constitute about 35 percent to 40 percent of the electorate of that region and, there as elsewhere, vote as a highly unified bloc. Nevertheless, the largely white Republican Party in the South routinely manages to win majorities in these states for both presidential and many congressional and gubernatorial candidates. It is able to do so because white Southerners - far more than whites elsewhere - vote as a bloc. In the election last year, exit polls showed that whites in the South voted for Bush by 66 percent; in the three other regions (East, West, and Midwest), white voters supported Bush by an average of only 49 percent. Obviously, white racial consciousness remains highest in the South, though the election of 2000 shows that there is, among a small majority of whites and especially white men, at least a kind of racial subconscious in much of the rest of the country as well. Only if whites of both sexes and in all parts of the nation bring that subconscious to the surface and make it a real force in national politics by translating it into political action at the polls can they expect to resist the ethnopolitics that threatens them and their future. If they do not and if the Republican Party proves itself incapable of leading them in doing so, then the Brimelow-Rubenstein thesis that uncontrolled immigration coupled with emerging non-white racial solidarity in voting behavior means the end of the GOP as a major national party will have been proved true.

About the author

Samuel Francis, Ph.D. is a nationally-syndicated columnist. His most recent book, Revolution from the Middle, is available from The Social Contract Press.

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