The Mandela Problem of the AWM Wing of the GOP

The US Republican Party has become the party of the angry white man (AWM) in the United States, which is a large part of the reason it has had trouble winning presidential elections. There are more female than male voters, and if you add white females to Asians, Latinos, African-Americans, gays and agnostics, you have a natural majority for the Democrats.

The modern Republican Party was a product of the Nixon strategy to pick up southern whites for the GOP when the Voting Rights Act had swung African-Americans to the Democrats. Apparently in South Carolina and Georgia it is awkward for whites and blacks to go to the same church or meet in the same party convention. In 2008 when the Republicans took a real drubbing at the polls, the deep south was the one place they survived.

In the past year Republican-dominated state legislatures, freed from DOJ oversight by Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts and conservative colleagues, have rushed to pass laws discouraging minorities from voting.

So the funeral today of South African leader Nelson Mandela has presented a conundrum to the AWM wing of the Republican Party. Mandela is universally admired for the role he played in national reconciliation as of the fall of white Apartheid (keeping races Apart) rule in 1994. The GOP has to at least try to be gracious, or it will look mean-spirited. But they can’t help themselves.

Rick Santorum* slammed Mandela for supporting big government and then compared Apartheid to Obamacare. It is bizarre to compare an oppressive system of racial discrimination and denial of the franchise to an attempt to insure the 40 million uninsured Americans, almost all of them workers.

Mandela would have been a big supporter of Obamacare. In fact, Nelson Mandela put in place a government program to spread health care to the working poor across South Africa, using a special train that provides whistlestop medical services.

Dick Cheney, keeping his head down as his gay and straight daughters duke it out, appears to stand by his insistence that Mandela was nothing more than a terrorist and his vote against sanctions on the Apartheid government.

Rush Limbaugh churlishly complained about the media attention to Mandela, occasioned by his death this week: “the attention the that media is giving and the time that they’re spending on the death of Mandela . . . It’s way, way out of proportion to what really going on in people’s lives and what they’re scared about and what matters to them.”Limbaugh, perhaps having embarrassed himself, later praised Mandela for forgiving his racist white enemies but used his example to slam American civil rights leaders, who, he said, nurse their resentments. This use of Mandela to condemn uppity African-Americans who continue to guard against the reintroduction of Jim Crow is about the most racist thing you can imagine.

Here is Limbaugh complaining about the coverage:

Even where some Republican politicians were gracious in praising Mandela, they attracted the ire of their own constituents, who defaced their Facebook pages with invective. The problem with cultivating angry white men as your constituency is that you end up being surrounded by a lot of angry white men.

And, the GOP boosters of Ronald Reagan never were honest enough, even where they praised Mandela, to admit that their icon put him on a terrorist list and opposed sanctions on the Apartheid government of South Africa.

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The Young Turks reports

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*the first edition of this post misidentified the speaker as Paul Ryan. Informed Comment regrets the error.

13 Responses

  1. Your link for paragraph 5 cites Rick Santorum, not Paul Ryan, as the politician who compared Obamacare to Apartheid. Which makes a lot more sense.

  2. As Charlie Pierce wrote at his Esquire blog on Friday after Rick Santorum and Bill O’Reilly likened Nelson Mandela’s lifelong struggle against apartheid to fighting Obamacare, the idiots on the right can have Ronald Reagan – in fact, they deserve him – but they cannot have Nelson Mandela. Not after Reagan labelled Mr. Mandela a “terrorist” and fought imposing sanctions on South Africa.

    In fact, in watching the Canadian news channel of the CBC on line, I saw former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney talking about the huge fight he had with both Pres. Reagan and Margaret Thatcher over sanctions (Canada led the Commonwealth and the world in isolating the South African government). Although couched in the niceties of diplomacy, he had very harsh things to say about both of them – and was especially unkind to St. Ronnie the Dim.

  3. The sad truth is apartheid survived so long because the West supported the regime. Mandela himself thanked Castro for his support against the S.A. DF in Angola, where the Cuban Army changed the strategic situation and allowed for Namibian Independence and a better bargaining position for the ANC.

    • Reading these last few days about the roles of Cuba and South Africa in Angola’s civil war, and in particular the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, I discovered an aspect of the effectiveness of sanctions against rogue regimes that I was not previously aware of. Because of sanctions, the South African military’s aircraft were outdated and inferior to those ranged against them. The realisation that SA was increasingly vulnerable to potentially hostile neighbours, and could do nothing about it, must have concentrated minds on the lack of a future for apartheid.

  4. SOS all over again.
    Like gravity, some
    things never change.
    Some of these people
    are the grandchildren
    of the children eating
    ice cream while watching
    a lynching back in the
    “Good Ole Days”.

  5. […] In the days since Nelson Mandela died, the vast majority of the media coverage in the United States has been positive and focused primarily on the manner in which the former revolutionary turned first black President of South Africa pursued a path of reconciliation between the nations black and white populations in the years after he was released from prison, to the point where seats of honor at his Inauguration were reserved for the men who ran and operated the prison he had been detained in for nearly three decades before being released in 1990. In most cases, the praise for Mandela crossed party boundaries here in the United States, with people like both President Bush’s, Colin Powell, and Speaker John Boehner praising Mandela as a man of peace. In some of the reactions, though, there was an echo of the old sentiments that existed toward Mandela and his group the African National Congress that existed during the debate over sanctions and divestment during the Reagan era, when a bipartisan majority in Congress that included men like Mitch McConnell, Richard Lugar, and Orrin Hatch overrode President Reagan’s veto of a sanctions bill against South Africa by an overwhelming margin. Juan Cole has perhaps the best summary I’ve seen of some of that anti-Mandela commentary: […]

  6. A terminology question: shouldn’t these dolts be called the AOWM: Angry Old White Men? I’m sure there are a fair amount of Angry Young White Men still (I can throw a snowball and hit a few where I live in the Midwestern US), but I wonder if the AOWM cohort will be around much longer. They’ll either die off (literally) or be increasingly replaced by multi-cultis like Obama and/or younger, more politically moderate leaders and voters, won’t they?

  7. I assume I’ve attended many more Tea Party and quasi-Tea Party gatherings than most who comment here,
    If you think these meetings are all-male, or even all-Caucasian, I think you know not whereof you condemn.

  8. When I was in college in the 1980′s I helped organize a fundraiser for the ANC, then declared a “terrorist organization” by the Reagan Administration. Although we knew we were under surveillance by the FBI no one worried much about being arrested and imprisoned. Today, that same action in support of many Muslim organizations in Obama’s America would involve a great deal more risk. I never thought I’d feel nostalgic for the Reagan Era, but the country has certainly become more repressive than it was in the 1980′s rather than less.

  9. ” I never thought I’d feel nostalgic for the Reagan Era, but the country has certainly become more repressive than it was in the 1980′s rather than less.”

    The problem with the Reagan era, as Walter Karp explained in “Liberty Under Siege,” is that was the time when Tyranny began to take giant steps leading us to Obama’s era of Hopeless and plus ca change, plus la meme chose. Same story in the UK with Maggie Thatcher.

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