Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Back to Not-So-Black

Trent Lott returns to Senate leadership
Mitch McConnell unanimously chosen to be Senate minority leader

Looks like the GOP incursion into the Democratic stranglehold on the black vote is over. A week after Lynn Swann and Michael Steele went down in flames, Senate Republicans have installed Trent Lott as their minority whip. Not exactly the politic thing to do if you want to court black votes, as Lott's fall from grace after he said Strom Thurmond should have been president to prevent "all these problems we've had" painted him as a racist. I'm not saying Lott is any worse than many of his fellow GOPers--indeed, I suspect he's a good deal better than most--but this move doesn't look good. And when you combine it with the party's choice to pass over Steele for Mel Martinez, Hispanic and of electorally-critical Florida, for the party chairmanship, it seems clear that the new minority party has written off the old minority group in favor of a new one. Does this mean the loud cries for a fence with Mexico are over?

Interesting, by the way, that the GOP's Southern Strategy is writ large in their leadership choices: Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Lott of Mississippi. Meanwhile, Dems chose folks from Nevada, Illinois, Washington, Michigan, and New York to be their leaders. What this says about the possibility of two quite regional parties in America is pretty clear--it's happening, at least for now. Look west, old men! That's where the action is now...

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