Why Obama's presidency has to be all about race now

This is what I call the Southern Strategy in Reverse. The great blunder of the Southern Strategy is that Republicans pursued the votes of white Southern Democrats at the cost of neglecting and alienating black voters. Now, Chait and others want the Democrats to bet everything on holding their death grip on the minority vote, at the expense of alienating white voters with precisely the kind of smears and intimidation tactics Chait is excusing here.

That’s a huge electoral cost, and for what?

Here’s for what. As I said, it’s almost as if they want to polarize the electorate into racial voting blocs and keep them in conflict. They don’t just find it convenient and self-flattering to think their opponents are all racists. They need us to be racists. Because what would happen if the racial arguments actually did fade away, and we all began arguing just on the basis of the actual issues?

What is so offensive about Chait’s arguments is that he often writes as if there are no issues beyond race and no other political history or legacy. Hence his assertion, at one point, that America’s unusual opposition to the welfare state can be explained by a leftover reaction against the end of slavery, as if there were no other cultural or intellectual traditions that might be relevant.