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Each Friday, LA Progressive presents a comment we editors find to be most profound, insightful, or just plain irritating.

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This week, an article by Steve Hochstadt, Do Republican Candidates Like Most Americans?, drew a series of comments, supportive and not. We'll lead with Steve's aggregate response, then include the observations by others he comments on.

Steve Hochstadt responds:

Ryder seems to think that progressives made up these categories of people. Categorizing people is inherent in our Constitution and in our history. African Americans, Native Americans, women, gays, and Jews were separated out by laws and government practices, which did not allow them/us to do what white Christian men could do. That hasn’t prevented white Christian men from pretending that they represented all Americans. This history is too well known to have to repeat, but people like Ryder insist that it doesn’t exist, that “The notion that Americans should be thought of as collective groups is the ugly side of progressivism.” Progressives have fought for more than a century to end this separation, the distinction in rights and treatment.

The only way to do that is to talk about how blacks were prevented from going to public school, how Jews were excluded from clubs and universities, how women were harassed when they tried to compete with men in the work force. Pretending that everyone is equal has been a tactic to prevent everyone from being equal, and it continues.

It is sad, as Don Duitz writes, that Republican candidates for President continue to say that every attempt to bring fairness to groups of people that American history has treated unfairly is divisive. Yet they appeal to their “base” by disdaining minorities. Gingrich is the one who brought up black people as needing a better work ethic.

Radhika worries that many Americans are willing to hate the other. Too many are, because they are taught to do that by politicians, who seek their votes by using a “Southern strategy”, a “Willie Horton” strategy, a “food-stamp President” strategy. I hope that the gamble that Mark Halfmoon identifies in Republican Presidential strategy backfires. We can help by identifying every time conservatives promote divisiveness by ignoring the real differences that conservatives have been fighting for decades to preserve.

Mark Halfmoon says:

The answer to your question Steve is that none of them intend to be a President to all Americans. That’s what they’re running on. They are making clear to their backward looking fans that they will *not* be the President of the rest of us poor, gay, black, unionized, believers in science, and supporters of a fair tax system. They are appealing to an irrational emotional fear of all those things.

They are gambling that:

1) there are enough of these frightened non-poor, non-gay, non-black, non-unionized, non-believers in science, and non-supporters of a fair tax system to actually vote – or perhaps for the first time – to register and vote to ‘end the Obama nightmare.’

2) there are enough unsatisfied, disappointed and disgruntled leftists and liberals who are already swearing to either not vote, or to vote for Ron Paul or some other candidate with a snowball’s chance in hell, to ‘send a message’ or because they ‘won’t be fooled again’ or because there’s ‘no difference between Obama and Santorum or Gingrich.’

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The very fact that any of those four men talking to you and your mother seem to have a realistic chance to become President of the United States in 2012 is indeed a sad and tragic testimony of how large of a group is willing to choose a leader who will most certainly act against their interests. Why?

I have my theories. I’ll leave everyone else to ponder the question and come up with their own.

times square

Ryder says:

This article leads with a presumption that Americans be divided up… sectioned up into groups to be aligned with or attacked, helped or destroyed, loved or hated.

The notion that Americans should be thought of as collective groups is the ugly side of progressivism… where a political debate can only be worthwhile if “gay Americans” (as if that has relevance), if gay people are specifically mentioned…

The voting rights of minorities (as if there are a different set of rights for them) are to be protected, but one must infer that the “voting rights of majorities” is to be ignored?

Why not have voting rights for Americans and then enforce them? Because progressives don’t think of people as people. People are just the little members that when taken whole are a group… the individual held in greatly diminished regard.

This is formula pandering and simple divisiveness… and it is no better from an author than it is from the politicians that practice it.

Radhika says:

This approach seems to work, electorally. I maintain that a strong plurality of Americans are completely happy to disparage and hate ‘the other’. Recent decades have quashed any illusions that the generic American is kind, fair and reasonable.

Don Duitz says:

Mr. Hochstadts article should bring sadness to most Americans. It illustrates, to me, that most of us have never felt love. What is offered by the modern “gop” shows a lack of empathy that somehow has been transmitted to people that don’t understand the words, let alone the music, that cripple their lives and their families.