Cain and post-racial America
Ross Douthat notices how little race matters in American politics, at least not in the way it once did. Excerpt:
In their place, we have a politics where partisans on both sides strain — and strain, and strain — to put a racial spin on ideological disagreements that have little to do with race, deploying claims of racial animus as bludgeons on issues that are only tangentially connected to America’s history of slavery and segregation.
… The entire Cain candidacy has been a reductio ad absurdum of this tendency — a case of anti-Obama conservatives reacting to the left’s overheated charges of right-wing racism by rallying around an African-American conservative who delights in playing the race card himself.
Douthat points out that conservatives don’t like Obama because he’s a liberal, and the media is going after Cain not because they want to punish a black conservative, but because the charges that he sexually harassed women seem credible. Douthat is right about this. I think partisans of both sides often want to put a racial spin on things because it makes it easier to ignore substantive criticism. If conservatives only hate Obama because they’re racists at heart, then liberals don’t have to think about where Obama might be failing. Similarly, if Herman Cain is a victim of a “high-tech lynching” by the liberal media, then conservatives don’t have to face up to the fact that Cain is a deeply flawed candidate who might actually be guilty of what he’s accused of.