Dean and Dixie
Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean offended the offended-American community this week for suggesting that Democrats should include those who they are loath to include in their gorgeous tapestry of love.
Dean's toxic idea was that the Dems should go after the NASCAR vote. These of course are the people New England Democrats vilify as rednecks and racists and therein lies a bit of problem. Dean has clearly never met one of these people and has no vocabulary for talking with them.
Calling them guys with "pickup trucks and Confederate Flags"is sort of like saying your outreach campaign to gays and lesbians will target "hairdressers and Smith College alums."
But the real beauty of this "gaffe" (from the French word meaning "to utter the regrettable") it is that the most vocal criticism of Dean came from the race-obsessed left. This is the part of the Democratic Party that is so finely attuned to racial disrespect that it can detect insolence at the molecular level.
Of course Dean's reference to the Rebel flag must betray deep-seated racist views.
Now there are a lot of things I don't like about Howard Dean, but I seriously doubt he is a racist and if he is he's certainly compensating for it by being a liberal Vermont politician.
But what of these valuable goober voters that Dean wants to attract? What does the typical deep-fried corn dog eating, evangelical tongue-speaking, darkie-dragging, neo-Nazi, unilateral-isolationist, gun-owning, Dale Earnhardt Jr-loving, butt crack flashing, homo-hating, uneducated militia member think of all this? You know, what does the average Dwayne have to say?
The serious answer would be that the Republicans have connected with the voters Dean is talking about because the GOP is not afraid to talk in terms of honor, duty, loyalty, and faith. Indeed, these things appeal to many people outside the South. What does not appeal to them is hypersensitivity and weakness in the face of adversity.
These voters believe in the Jacksonian tradition. A good overview of this deep and encompassing theme of American history and how it still guides much of what passes for incomprehensible American attitudes in the rest of the world, read this National Interest essay by Walter Russell Mead.
The pickup/confederate flag episode only serves to remind Jacksonians that liberal northeastern Democrats are feckless and fearful and can only see the world as disparate greivence groups. The idea that there are individuals who don't see themselves as part of any affinity group seems to escape Democratic politicians.
The irony is, Jacksonians are an affinity group, perhaps the largest and most influential in the country today.
The trouble is, the only thing they can truly agree on is who they are not. And right now they sure as hell are not Democrats.