Mr. Gingrich successfully exploited racial tensions in a state with a shameful history of racism to win last night’s South Carolina primary. The republican base showed overwhelming support for his divisive rhetoric during debates. The predominantly white Republican Party, has given Mr. Gingrich a come from behind victory as a Presidential hopeful; and showed us just how far from a post-racial some southern Americans really are.
It appears that spinning the facts, as far to the right as possible, while putting black man, “in his place,” is still an effective campaign strategy. After struggling in the polls and losing Iowa and New Hampshire, Gingrich is clearly gaining momentum, at least among the GOP base is in the white South. As I discussed on my blog and podcast this week, Mr. Gingrich received loud applause at the debate on Monday night when he said “The fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.”
Republicans are not doing the middle class and poor any favors by – to paraphrase Earl Hutchinson - artfully selling these programs to many Americans as handouts to undeserving minorities. The Gingrich victory shows that Republicans not interested in the fact that the major recipients of programs like SNAP, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and labor unions “are and have always been white seniors, retirees, women, and children, and white workers.”
It was to the good Christian white folks of South Carolina encouraging this racist and divisive rhetoric. The info graphics provided by Gallop Poll, show the Republican Party today is comprised of eighty-nine percent non-Hispanic whites, whom consider themselves very religious. Pandering to the crowd even if it is contrary to his expressed beliefs is nothing new to Mr. Gingrich.
When he first entered the Presidential race he criticized a GOP plan to overhaul Medicare and defended Democratic health-care policies on Meet The Press. After conservatives criticized him Mr. Gingrich attempted to recant those statements. His campaign site now says, “Newt believes it is an unprecedented and unconstitutional expansion of federal power. “
This shows us that Mitt Romney is not the only Republican candidate who will flip-flop on so called beliefs depending on the crowd. In 2009 Gingrich was part of an education tour with Rev. Al Sharpton, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan because “education has to be the No. 1 civil rights issue of the 21st century.” Gingrich said.
The trio embarked on the tour at the request of Pres. Obama and ended with a bipartisan discussion on Meet the Press. At no time during this tour, which included Philadelphia, Detroit and Baltimore school districts, did he suggest – as he did in front of a predominantly white crowd in SC – that having poor children work as janitors will lower drop out rates and teach them the value of hard work. As a result of this Rev. Sharpton has challenged Mr. Gingrich to meet with him and discuss some of his more recent offensive remarks.
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Newt Gingrich is at very least a skilled politician who assumes that poor people and specifically black people are lazy and addicted to SNAP. Considering the current economic strains on the average American of every race; it should mean political suicide that he can not empathize with thousands of American with graduate degrees who work multiple jobs, just to stay in debt or have health insurance. Unfortunately, it does not matter to southern white folk that Mr. Gingrich was a lobbyist and a political insider who supported Bush policies that got us into this economic turmoil in the first place. What matters is that he is not afraid to hide his white sheets and pointed hat in the closet and champion the racist cause, and he’s smart enough not to use the N word in public.