Ignoring at Their Peril

Article excerpt

Two political dangers have emerged in recent months for Democrats, Republicans and the media that cover both: the dismissal by all three of protests and the crude overuse of the race card.

It's disturbing that Washington really doesn't "get" the rest of the country, says Villanova University political scientist Lara Brown.

Sept. 12's TEA Party protest in Washington received little to no coverage; most news organizations wildly underreported the crowd's size.

Later, former President Jimmy Carter said racism is behind the rhetoric of President Obama's critics; New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd opined similarly.

Here is the problem with that: Pull out the race card and the conversation ends. It does the president no good when anyone who disagrees with him is accused of racism; it simply builds a resentment that he did not foster.

Besides, most protests and policy disagreements have nothing to do with race -- and to say that they do only dilutes real racism.

"When it comes to race, it is unfortunate that the Democrats are seeing everything through this analytical lens," Brown said. "It undermines those instances in which racism and discrimination are truly important factors and are harming minorities."

Bill Kalin of Portage, Ind., president of United Steelworkers Local 6103, attended last week's AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh. He dismisses as ridiculous most media depictions of TEA Party protesters: "No one should make fun of people that demonstrate, or call them names."

Since Democrats took power, the country has moved quickly from one pole to another in its opinions of the president and his party.

A similar phenomenon followed George W. Bush's 2004 re-election by a decisive majority; by October 2005, his approval ratings had fallen substantially.

"Obama has and is suffering a similar political trajectory to Bush in 2005," Brown says.

Obama and Democrats in Congress read way too much into their victories in 2006 and 2008. They believed a majority of the country was voting for them, instead of voting against Bush and the Republicans.

A huge emotional attachment is lost when you vote against, not for, someone. …