I try to make sure we discuss race in our politics at least once a year. I mean, a group devoted to American politics that ignores race might as well just give up show business altogether.
Luckily, we have a special treat on Monday. Neil Visalvanich, a friend of mine who is writing his dissertation at UCSD on the role race plays in voter behavior, will be here to help us. Neil, an experienced teacher and lecturer, will run the meeting by giving a brief opening presentation and then moderating. I told him on the phone that Civilized Conversation was interested in hearing how experts try to separate out the role that race plays from the zillion other factors that influence our politics. And, we also wanted to get a better sense of whether race-based politics is making a comeback in America, as it sometimes seems to be doing (not just via the rise of the Tea Party, but also the hardening of partisan attitudes towards the Democrats among other ethnic groups).
Discussion Questions –
Be thinking about questions for Neil. Mine will include:
- How do experts measure people’s racial attitudes? Do they all agree on how it should be done? How does “racism” differ from “racial resentment” from “racial identity,” etc.?
- How do racial attitudes influence political beliefs? How do they know? Is it different for different people?
- So, are racially- and ethnically-based politics making a comeback in America? How do we know this? Is it just among conservatives? Really?
- If so, why? Are the reasons temporary (e.g., first Black president, giant recession) or structural (demographic/economy changes)?
- [Ay others Neil tells me to add or subtract]
Neil may provide me more before the meeting, but here are a few to get you started.
- Neil Visalvanich’s C.V.
- How do they measure racial attitudes? (Neil will explain more/better)
- A UCSD professor lectures briefly (5 minutes) on race, ethnicity, and our two major political parties.
- “Fear of a Black President:” Masterful article in the Atlantic Monthly. Recommended.
- Many White Americans believe that Black progress has come at their expense! (One study, small sample size, but still.) But, don’t you dare think the racists are all in one political party.
- My (David’s) question for the Tea Party concerning race. Is it your question, too?
- The Other Side: A conservative I respect bemoans loose accusations of racism by people on the Left,
NEXT WEEK: NSA Surveillance State: Who’s Watching the Watchers?