Come the revolution, rich, white, male conservatives will be the only people left who can "play the race card" and get away with it. Actually, that revolution is already here. And, with apologies to Gil Scott-Heron, it is being televised — in the form of Mitt Romney's attack ads, focused on Obama's imaginary "gutting" of welfare reform.
There's a dark, bitter irony in this latest chapter in the ongoing saga of race in America. Our first African-American president can't talk about race. As Ta-Nehisi Coates explains in his excellent article in The Atlantic, "Fear of a Black President," Barack Obama has become "the most successful black politician in American history," by steering clear of "the radioactive racial issues of yesteryear." Yet the success of the GOP's Romney/Ryan ticket, dubbed "white and whiter" by Salon columnist Joan Walsh, actually depends on exploiting the "radioactive racial issues of yesteryear."
At this stage in the game, there's only one reason a campaign doubles down on a particular strategy — especially one with so much potential to backfire: it's working. The question is: Why does it work?
There are at least a few reasons why it works. See Dave Johnson's post and Digby's post for more about why we on the left are part of the reason it works, and how we can begin to do something about it. For my purposes, I'm going to focus on to big reasons why playing the race card works so well for conservatives: the media, and the base.
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