Political Animal

Blog

October 05, 2013 9:27 AM The government shutdown and the Republican war on Obamacare: it’s the racism, stupid

By Kathleen Geier

I am hardly the first person to point this out, but in the context of this week’s political madness, it bears repeating: it would be difficult to exaggerate the role of racial resentment in the G.O.P. war on President Obama and his signature achievement, the ACA.

Here’s some strong supporting evidence: the single group that is most disproportionately likely to be excluded from health care coverage under the ACA is poor black folks. A coinky-dink, perhaps? Hardly; it’s happening because the Republican-controlled states where they live are refusing Medicaid expansion. Still don’t get the picture? How about this: all but one state in the Deep South have refused the free money from the feds to expand Medicaid.

Yesterday in this space, Ed Kilgore noted that “Republican House members from districts with poor and black folks—or next door to heavily poor and black areas—are very likely to be more savagely opposed to Obamacare than anyone else.” And that is not a bug, it’s a feature. As Ed explained:

[Y]our average very conservative southern Republican House member doesn’t much think of black folk as “constituents.” And they are elected not to tend to black folks but to keep them from “looting” the resources of the GOP Member’s real constituents, via Obamacare or other socialistic means.
[Snip]
They aren’t really representing those people. They’re keeping them down.

Just this week, pollster Stan Greenberg released a new report on GOP voters, based on focus group research. It’s full of fascinating stuff, but what is most relevant here is what the report has to say about how large racial animus continues to loom in the imagination of the GOP base:

We expected that in this comfortable setting or in their private written notes, some would make a racial reference or racist slur when talking about the African American President. None did. They know that is deeply non-PC and are conscious about how they are perceived. But focusing on that misses how central is race to the worldview of Republican voters. They have an acute sense that they are white in a country that is becoming increasingly “minority,” and their party is getting whooped by a Democratic Party that uses big government programs that benefit mostly minorities, create dependency and a new electoral majority. Barack Obama and Obamacare is a racial flashpoint for many Evangelical and Tea Party voters.

Some things never change, do they?

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee

Comments

(You may use HTML tags for style)

comments powered by Disqus