Thursday, March 03, 2016

Researchers: Racism Helps the GOP Win

As noted in a prior post, GOP Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan has disingenuously stated that there is no place for bigotry and preying on people's prejudices in the Republican Party.   Either Ryan is delusional or a bald faced liar.  For years since Richard Nixon launched his "Southern Strategy" to win white votes in the South to today and the racist remarks that Donald Trump is throwing out to his supporters, the GOP long pandered to people's prejudices.  The LGBT community, like blacks knows first hand the lengths that Republicans will go to fan hate, division and ingrain prejudices against those many whites deem as "other.".  A new study tracts the correlation between whites who vote Republican and those with negative views of blacks which is no coincidence notwithstanding Paul Ryan's protestations.  Here are highlights from the Washington Post: 

In the South, it seems, old prejudices have persisted. Southern counties that had more slaves on the eve of the Civil War are distinct from their neighbors: White residents in those areas are more hostile toward African Americans and they are more likely to vote Republican today, new research shows. Drawing on archival Census figures and recent polls, the study adds to an expanding body of evidence on the importance of racial anxiety to the predominantly white Republican coalition.   "The underlying racial hostility goes on in the culture, passed on from generation to generation," said David Sears, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. "Local culture doesn't change very quickly."
About 4 million people, or 32 percent of the population, were enslaved in the South in 1860. . . .
Following emancipation, not only did white Southerners lose the source of their economic power in this region. Given their numbers, the former slaves also threatened to end white political dominance at the polls.

In response, white Southerners in those counties with large black populations found ways of preserving their power over the freed slaves. Soon after the war, for example, former planters developed the system of sharecropping, which allowed them to maintain their control over black labor. It was an improvement over slavery, but it was still a form of peonage.

The end of Reconstruction allowed white, Democratic governments to disenfranchise black voters and to segregate public spaces. These governments also acquiesced in thousands of lynchings.

Today, most of the old plantations have been sold off. Where slaves once picked cotton, there are subdivisions and stadiums. The prejudice, however, remains. "There are still a lot of people who think blacks are simply inferior to whites," said Roger Ransom, an economic historian at the University of California, Riverside. "It is definitely there, and I don’t think it ever went away."

Acharya, Blackwell and Sen examined data on racial attitudes from national polls conducted in 2010 and 2011, using the responses of white participants in the states of the former Confederacy, including West Virginia, as well as Missouri and Kentucky, slave states that did not secede. Those in counties where more slaves lived in 1860 were more likely to hold negative views of African Americans.

 Recent research by economists Ilyana Kuziemko and Ebonya Washington suggests that white Southerners who defected from the Democratic party after the civil-rights movement were those with the most conservative views on race. Democrats who held moderate and conservative views on other issues and who lived in other parts of the country largely remained loyal.

Polls consistently show that Republicans are more likely to hold racial prejudices, and not just in the South. Nationally, almost one in five Republicans opposes interracial dating, compared to just one in 20 Democrats, according to the Pew Research Center. While 79 percent of Republicans agree with negative statements about blacks such as the one about slavery and discrimination, just 32 percent of Democrats do, the Associated Press has found.

"This party does not prey on people’s prejudices. We appeal to their highest ideals," Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the speaker of the House, told reporters Tuesday. "This is the party of Lincoln." . . . research, however, suggests that the party does benefit from racial antipathy.

Sears of the University of California has found that even among white voters with equally conservative views on issues unrelated to race, those with more negative views about African Americans are more likely to vote Republican. 

[S]lavery's enduring legacy is evident not only in statistics on black poverty and education. The institution continues to influence how white Southerners think and feel about race -- and how they vote. Slavery still divides the American people.

"When we study public opinion, we tend to focus on the now," Sen said. "These political attitudes really can persist over generations, and last an incredibly long time."

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