Friday, November 07, 2003

Krugman Defends Dean

I'm a bit disappointed that Howard Dean apologized for his Confederate flag comments; anyone with half a brain understood what he meant. Paul Krugman agrees:

Howard Dean's remarks about the need to appeal to white Southerners could certainly have been better phrased. But his rivals for the Democratic nomination should be ashamed of their reaction. They know what he was trying to say — and it wasn't that his party should go soft on racism. By playing gotcha, by seizing on the chance to take the front-runner down a peg, they damaged the cause they claim to serve — and missed a chance to confront the real issue he raised.

A three-sentence description of the arc of American politics over the past 70 years would run like this: First, Democrats and moderate Republicans created institutions — above all, Social Security and Medicare — that provided a measure of financial security to ordinary working Americans. The biggest beneficiaries of these institutions were African-Americans and working-class Southern whites, and both were part of the moderate-to-liberal coalition that dominated American politics until the 1960's.

But the right opened an increasingly effective counterattack, with a strategy that included using racially charged symbolism to get Southern whites to vote against their own economic interests. All Mr. Dean was saying was that Democrats need to understand and counter this strategy.

Exactly. Democrats must figure out a way to educate poor Southern whites of the self-defeating stupidity of voting Republican because of covert and not-so-covert Republican tolerance for racism. There are more issues than that, for God's sake, and they are vital to the South.

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