The Emergence of David Duke and the Politics of Race

The Emergence of David Duke and the Politics of Race

The Emergence of David Duke and the Politics of Race

The Emergence of David Duke and the Politics of Race


This collection of essays growing out of in-depth research on David Duke examines the controversial Louisiana politician's past, his electoral success, his appeal, and his constituency. The contributors, including political scientists, journalists, historians, and activists, conclude that Duke appeals to a vast group of middle-class, white voters who feel that they have been ignored by the political scene and bypassed in economic terms.


Douglas D. Rose

Responses to David Duke

It is Thursday night in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in January 1991. I am behind one-way glass looking in as eleven supporters of David Duke sit around a table discussing their views. Despite the week-old Iraqi war, it is not hard for the participants to focus their sense of concern and uncertainty on the domestic situation.

They are talking about hard times—low pay, scarce jobs, few benefits, and short hours on the income side, and high prices, catastrophic health care costs, and increasing taxes on the outgo side. College graduates have to leave the state to get a job. What do you need to get a job? One says qualifications, others say political connections, and still others say to be a woman or a minority.

They feel squeezed from above. Employers squeeze them for a buck. Oil prices go up, oil companies pocket the profits. Companies dump waste, ruining the environment, for profit; S&Ls are looted by their officers. the government helps the "big boys" out through tax breaks, because politicians are influenced by lobbyists and campaign contributions. This goes on, they say, but it is sort of invisible—they are bleeding but they never saw the knife.

Their outrage comes from the squeeze from below, from welfare and affirmative action. There is little dissent on the main points. Free tax money . . .

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