Monday, October 30, 2006

the volunteer state

He's a bible-thumping, anti-gay marriage, privileged son of the south. He's Harold Ford Jr, and he's the key to the midterm elections and a barometer in many ways for the future of the country.

He wants to change course in Iraq, proposing to divide the country, former-Yugoslavia-style, into three roughly independent cantons or states. He attacks Republican positions on homeland security and immigration, but is cozy with Fox News reporters and calls the President a friend. He's not easy to pigeonhole and he won't be easily tarred with the liberal brand.

He's running neck and neck with Republican candidate Bob Corker. Ford is black and Corker is white. The Tennessee voting population is roughly 16 percent black and there have there been no (zero) black senators from the south since Reconstruction. Newsweek estimates Ford needs to win 40 percent of white voters overall in order to prevail on election day.

"He needs white independents and even some white Republicans to win," says Merle Black, a professor of political science at Emory University. While Ford is ahead by small margins in some polls, recent history (including races in Virginia in 1989 and North Carolina in 1990) suggests that white Southerners will sometimes say they're willing to vote for a black man in a poll but act differently in the privacy of the voting booth."

The Republican Party fully aware has aired attack ads that among other things play on fear of black-white sex, as in miscegenation, as in the mixing of the races! Below is the now-infamous ad that features a mock playboy party girl in thrall to the bachelor Congressman.

Maybe we've reached a turning point in all of this. What's it gonna be Tennesee?


At 7:48 AM, Anonymous Giovanni Dortch said...

The fear of miscegenation used by the Corker camp is even more hilarious and absurd when one considers Ford's racial/ethnic background as a person of mixed race versus his political pedigree. The Ford family name has been associated with Memphis politics for generations.

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