The Washington Post's longtime District-oriented opinion writer Colbert King had a piece that appeared over the weekend that described our circumstances like this:
Yet curiously (at least to me) in the midst of this extended historical analogy, Mr. King says:
On that I call BULLSHIT! Unhappily, there is abundant evidence that for many citizens who make up a sizable part of the Republican base constituency, the President is simply -- irretrievably -- the Other, not a "real American."
Democracy Corps' Inside the GOP report (available in .pdf at the link) aims to share what came out in focus groups with subsets of Republicans. Here's a bit about their methodology:
A few words about focus groups: as the pollsters who did this report make clear, these groups are not science, any kind of statistically valid survey. Focus groups are closer to art -- applied opinion research based on smart and imaginative efforts to recruit and encourage representative collections of people to express themselves truthfully, as if they were around a table at a community supper or a water cooler -- somewhere they feel safe. Focus group facilitation is a high end skill; most of us are socialized to be a little reticent about our beliefs in groups of strangers. But well-run focus groups can take on a life of their own: someone steps out with a controversial stance and, if this hits a chord with others, the whole group will run off down a vein that they might ordinarily keep private. The Democracy Corps groups seem to have been very effective at releasing the emotional underpinning of their Republican participants thoughts; the best political focus group research does just that -- and often the results seem a little shocking to the sort of people who commission such studies, especially liberals. Are our fellow citizens really nursing such stigmatized opinions? Yes.
Some of the findings about racial attitudes:
This word cloud captures the weights of the various descriptive words that Republicans used about the President Obama.
I can only read this to mean exactly what Republicans were unwilling to say: Obama uses their language well, the language of U.S. liberty and democracy, but he applies it to people who, in their guts, they consider non-people. And he can't be that smart all on his own. Yes -- that's garden-variety racism.
Awful reading as this report makes, there are glimpses of hope. Democracy Corps' "Moderate" Republicans come through as frightened of their own party. The women, in particular, want a much more realistic accommodation to U.S. realities than either Evangelicals or the TP folk.
And, afflicted with the lurch from Republican obstructionist crisis to the next manufactured crisis, it's hard to remember, but these Republican dead-enders are themselves a dwindling minority. President Obama only received about 39 percent of white people's votes in 2012 -- but 56 percent of his votes came from whites! The pool of non-white voters has become larger in national contests. But Obama was still elected with a lot of votes from white people. We aren't all terrified reactionaries. There are a substantial number of white people who are more and more ready to live in a country in which no ethnicity is an absolute majority and we all have to get along. White people can work to get us there more rapidly and peacefully, if we chose to.