Ward Room
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Opinion: Joe Walsh Makes Race an Issue

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Rep. Joe Walsh, Tea Party-Ill., is the truth serum of the Republican Party. His mouth speaks what other Republicans are thinking, but are afraid to say themselves. At a town hall meeting in Schaumburg, in front of what appeared to be an all-white audience, Walsh went on a rant about how Democrats are buying the votes of minorities by making them “dependent on government.”

    “I get wound up,” he shouted. “I really get wound up. I am scared that we’re past the point. We have so many people now dependent on government, so many people want handouts. The Democratic Party promises groups of people everything. They want the Hispanic vote. They want the Hispanics to be dependent on government, just like they got African-Americans dependent upon government. That’s their game. Jesse Jackson would be out of work if they weren’t dependent upon government. There’d be no more work for him.”

    It’s an old Republican complaint, but it’s usually expressed less blatantly. Ronald Reagan, for example, told stories about a “strapping young buck” who used food stamps to buy a T-bone steak, and a welfare queen who drove a Cadillac. The race of his subjects was implied, but never specified.

    Nonetheless, bashing minorities as lazy may be a sound strategy for the Republicans. They alienated blacks by campaigning against civil rights in 1964, and they’ve alienated Hispanics by proposing to build a wall along the Mexican border to keep out immigrants. The white vote is all they have left. Walsh’s language may be intended to rally insecure whites against the growing population of Hispanics and African-Americans.

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