Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Democracy Corps' Terrible Study

Dear Democracy Corps:

Do you really think that even the most ardent Republican is going to use out and out racist language in a research setting?


Seriously, guys, aside from everything else, your methodology sucks. So does your analysis: they spent (as you yourselves put it) an absolute ton of time saying that "I'm not racist but they'll label me as racist if I criticize him", and you don't stop to think that maybe, just maybe, they're being unbelievably defensive for a reason?

Look at this one quote:

You can’t openly criticize Obama. If you do, you’ll be labeled as a racist.

Whatever we say about Obama, no matter what we say about him, it is a racial comment so you know, we can’t say anything, we personally do not like him. I don’t care if he is purple, but whatever we say we’re racist.

As far as a person goes, I don’t want to say I hate him. I don’t like what he stands for… and I don’t like what he is doing and the choices he is making, but I mean I don’t know him as a gentleman so… You would be called a racist. You would not like him because he is black. That is what the media is saying...

...The things that we’ve said have nothing to do with race. They have to do with policy and… an agenda, his agenda… Right… Manipulation.

I think basically we have a lot of the same views of Clinton as we do about Obama but most of us are freer to express it because we are not going to be accused of being racists...

...Actually that is a good thing that he has done. In all the charges of it being racial he has defended, he has come out and said, no I don’t think that comment was meant that way and that was the one thing that I think he has done that you know.

I don’t think he thinks it, but I think other people think it. You know the ones that are really supportive of him. If we don’t like him, and we have something against him, then we’re a racist...

...I think he’s got a hidden agenda… and I’m worried that we won’t be able to undo what he has done in such a short time

I mean that is when you start questioning, what is the agenda? Because they are weakening us as a country to where we cannot afford so we are going to cry out or we are going to take what has been offered to us....

...I just think that Obama was molded and I think that he is being fed what he can and cannot do and what to do next and it seems like he is a puppet in this whole game. I don’t know who the people are behind him really but I don’t think it is him. I think it is somebody, I think he is just the figurehead… I think it is George Soros… I do too… Is he the guy with money?… Yes… They say follow the money.

I think he has a money person behind him that has planned this long before because he has gotten pushed into a position that is unbelievable for a community organizer…I come from Chicago so I know how he got there and I don’t like his tentacles into ACORN and everything else that are subsidiaries and it all goes back… He couldn’t do it by himself.
The parts that were stripped out were generally the DC comments. The quotes are verbatim.

To you or me, what that says is pretty goddamned clear: "There's no way a lazy n----- like that could become president alone, he's got to be a puppet of those big rich j---s". Yet Democracy Corps doesn't even consider that there might be a subtext there. They just blithely repeat what they're told, as if Republicans haven't been using dog-whistle language for years and ratcheted it up against Obama during 2008.

No, racism isn't all of it. There's also the mad fantasies about how he's a big ol' socialist, and the psychotic paranoia about the gigantic liberal media conspiracy that simultaneously grants that "a lot of conservatives have platforms on the radio or television." (Though that last one could easily be tied to the j--- thing if you push a little and mention the word "Soros".)

There's also the creepy personality cult that's coalescing around Glenn Beck, which is honestly worse than anything that ever attached itself to Limbaugh's meaty frame. I won't reproduce the comments here, but it's starting to look like a good ol' fashioned "Uncle Joe" personality cult. At best.

But to discount racism based on what I'm seeing here is ludicrous, and a complete mockery of proper social science technique. There's simply no way that this sort of methodology is going to bring out taboo opinions on race, any more than it would bring out any other taboo. At best you'll find it by reading between the lines, but it's more likely that you could just say "we failed to elicit racist language, but cannot be sure whether racism is or isn't a motivating factor." After all, to believe that there is no racist opposition to Obama doesn't pass the laugh test. That means that either their focus group selection methodology didn't find them, or their survey methodology didn't elicit it. Either way, they didn't acknowledge that.

Very, very disappointing. Whether or not it's an attempt by Carville et al to change the tone of the debate by deliberately trying to take racism out of it, I cannot say. They didn't publish the interviews, only their interpretation. But as it is, all this shows is that dogwhistle politics are alive and well in the Republican party...

...and that I'm starting to become very, very worried about Glenn Beck's fans.

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