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August 10, 2003

Why Isn't Arianna Withdrawing?

I like Arianna but she should get out of the race. Not just because she indicated earlier that she would if a serious Democrat stepped up, but because there is a whiff of racism in her statement that she would withdraw for Dianne Feinstein. See this interview:

Q: You said before you announced your candidacy that you wouldn't run if Diane Feinstein ran. She isn't running, but if someone else you thought was a viable Democratic candidate stepped up, would you withdraw your candidacy at that point?

A: No, Diane Feintstein was the only candidate. Not, let me say, because I agree with her. There are many things on which she and I disagree, many national issues including the war in Iraq. But Diane Feinstein could easily have won if she were on the ballot, and I have absolutely zero interest in being a spoiler.

But it's okay to be a spoiler if the main Democratic candidate is latino? With the GOP divided, if there are no spoilers on the left, Bustamante is an easy winner as well. And while he's no great liberal, he's no worse than Di-Fi.

Does Arianna want to not only be the Nader of the election, but be seen as a racist spoiler as well? Someone who supported the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, which took food stamps away from legal immigrants, cannot credibly claim a progressive reason to help defeat a latino Democrat for office.

Update: Kevin at Calpundit isn't happy with this post, but I thought I was pretty damn gentle. People are giving Arianna an amazing pass for really despicable political alliances in the 1990s-- which benefitted her personally -- and now she is running a self-aggrandizing campaign that may undercut the main Democratic candidate. She aligned herself for years with rightwing racist politicians, so it's somehow hardly bizarre to suggest that there is some racial undertones to these kinds of distinction over which Dem candidates she's willing to sabotague.

White liberals are way too sure of their lack of racial motivations. I'm not so sure a lot of the time, since I swim in the same sea of stereotypes that assume less competence for non-white people. Look at the comments in Kevin's thread where a bunch of people just jumped to the assumption that Bustamante was just Davis's "tool" or "incompetent" or "opportunist" with little evidence given. I'm no big fan of Bustamante because he's less liberal than I'd like, but I do think this jumping to diminish Bustamante does reflect a certain racial coding. He's the Democratic alternative on the ballot, yet I am not seeing the same pervasive Democratic partisanship on his behalf that I've seen for the Texas Dems or the war or a bunch of other areas of recent political debate.

Frankly, the rightwing "political correctness" virus has permeated the liberals far too much. Apparently, you are not allowed to even discuss the possibility of racist motives in modern society. We have apparently all cured ourselves of such influences, so any suggestion otherwise should be suppressed.

BTW Kevin made a comparison of my comments on Arianna to those of the GOP Senate about the supposed "anti-Catholicism" of Senate Democrats. If the response to the GOP is to call a moratorium on analyzing bigotry in public life, then the GOP will have won. The GOP is wrong not because anti-Catholic bias shouldn't be discussed in public life, but because their analysis in this situation is wrong (and Dems have documented why this is so well). Saying my analysis on Arianna is mistaken is fine, but this command not to even discuss such things is very dangerous itself.

Posted by Nathan at August 10, 2003 03:45 PM