8 November 2002
Big fun on the bayou
The balance of power in the Senate is settled, but there's one seat still in doubt: in Louisiana, where Democrat Mary Landrieu led the pack but failed to win a majority. Under the Tabasco State's laws, this means a runoff, in which Landrieu will face Republican front-runner Susan Terrell. And it means that Landrieu also faces a dilemma; she took so much trouble to separate herself from the goofiness of the national Democratic organization that, from a distance, she was almost indistinguishable from a Republican. The electorate, she perhaps fears, will reason that the choice is between an ersatz Republican and a real one, and will vote accordingly.
What to do? John Rosenberg suggests Landrieu ought to take a three-pronged approach: make Bush-like utterances on the war, come off as a traditional quasi-populist Democrat on most domestic issues, and adopt the following possibly-controversial position:
Come out swinging against all forms of racial discrimination, including affirmative action/preferential treatment, criticizing Bush and the Republican establishment of timidity for refusing to push this issue, for not having the courage of their stated convictions. This will offend black leaders, but it is less clear that it will offend black voters, who may in any event prefer and come out for a liberal candidate who is offering them no race-based favors over a conservative candidate who is offering them no race-based favors. And it will help with everyone else.
I have some doubts about this by most accounts, black voters are nearly as conservative as white voters, and far more conservative than black leaders but I'd like to see her try that myself, just to see what difference, if any, it makes in the African-American vote. I have had for some time a gut feeling that the only remaining proponents of racial preferences are the people who are making a living as advocates for such; the rest of us, regardless of color, are likely sick of the whole concept and wish it would go away already.