Though indirectly and primarily through surrogates, Democratic candidates in states with closely contested federal or statewide races are getting a boost from an ongoing shadow campaign of naked and dishonest race-baiting.
In a piece chronicling the phenomenon, The New York Times noted this week that Democratic allies in Southern states are warning African-American constituents to vote on November 4 lest they want to see a return of Jim Crow, the figurative lynching of President Barack Obama, or more violent clashes with police akin to what occurred in Ferguson, Missouri this summer.
“It’s not race-baiting; it’s actually happening,” said an official with the Democratic Party of North Carolina’s African-American caucus. “I can’t catch a fish unless there’s a worm on the hook.”
No doubt, there will be takers for a message which suggests that a Republican Senate takeover could mean the impeachment of Barack Obama, and that this outcome is perfectly synonymous with the Jim Crow-era lynching of blacks in the Deep South. It’s a poisonous, unhinged, and deleterious brand of politics to espouse, but it is beyond a doubt that some do believe this.
It seems, however, that it is possible to go over the line on race-baiting, even among liberals. Leave it to New York City Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel to not only discover this elusive line, but to leap over it with reckless abandon.
“Everything we believe in, everything we believe in they hate. They don’t disagree – they hate,” Rep. Rangel said while stumping for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “Some of them believe that slavery isn’t over and that they won the Civil War.”
Well, Mr. Rangel, not to take your populist ramblings too literally but, in a political context, Republicans did win the Civil War, and the 1864 presidential election after besting the defeatist Democratic candidate, Gen. George McClellan (whose son went on to become the mayor of New York City). But I digress…
CNN dissected Rangel’s embarrassing comments on Friday, and it seems his statements were too much even for those on the left to lend any credence.
“I’m trying to figure out why he’s even still in office,” said ESPN commentator LZ Granderson after observing that Rangel has been cited on 11 ethics violations over his career as a congressman representing Harlem. “If you think what he says is true, then I’m just going to tell you the truth: you’re an idiot.”
“Slavery, and that time period, does not exist today,” he continued. “Is there racism? Absolutely, but it doesn’t exist in the same way it did during slavery times.”
“I think it’s hard because it just feels so non-productive given the tone and the conversation that has been going on in this country for some time,” CNN anchor Michaela Pereira observed.
Granderson agreed and closed by saying that he would welcome a time when the views of an older generation that supports of this kind of virulent race-baiting go the way of opposition to same-sex marriage. “If you’re still saying, ‘Nothing has changed in society,’ and we have an African-American president in the White House, then I just don’t know what to say to you rationally to get you to change your mind,” Granderson closed.
CNN analyst and GOP strategist Ana Navarro observed accurately that Rangel has been an embarrassment to his party for some time. It is nevertheless shocking that, just three days before a national election, Rangel would be defenestrated by his political allies in this eye-opening a fashion.
This post has been amended since it’s original publication.