Yale academics have written a study showing that Democratic Party anti-racism messaging harmed the party politically.
Obviously, some of the this can be ascribed to the racism of a portion of the electorate, but there is also the issue that anti-racism messaging has been offered as an alternative to basic issues of social justice, labor rights, and inequality.
That’s why Hillary Clinton’s, “Basket of Deplorables,” quote was so damaging.
The subtext was, “If you did not have the talent and initiative to get a post-graduate degree at an elite institution, screw you.”
The Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) has completely eschewed issues of socioeconomic class, because they are creatures of the top 1%, and racial reductionist statements allow them to check the various “social justice” text box while continue to serve the agenda of the economic elites.
The is the exact opposite of the answer that Jesse Jackson gave during his 1988 Presidential campaign when he was asked, “How you are going to get the support of the white steelworker?” and he replied, “By making him aware he has more in common with the black steel workers by being a worker, than with the boss by being white.”
Bernie Sanders message in 2016 and 2020 was very similar, and (thankfully) Biden appears to be governing more toward the Jackson end of the Democratic Party ideological spectrum than he is toward the Clinton/Obama side of the spectrum, even if he did not campaign that way:
Beginning about a decade ago, the Democratic Party went through two important changes related to racism. The first is that the backlash against Barack Obama made far more white liberals aware of how deeply racial resentment inspired American conservatism. (Black people had by and large realized this all along.)
The second is that the party, which in previous years had painstakingly avoided the impression its agenda was mainly designed to help minorities, began emphasizing this very point. That change occurred in 2016, when Hillary Clinton started infusing her rhetoric with conscious appeals to racial equity. And it continued in 2020 — even though Joe Biden employed less race-conscious rhetoric than his more progressive rivals, he still cast some of his plans as explicitly anti-racist.
But is it working? Yale political scientists Micah English and Josh Kalla have found that adding explicitly race-conscious ideas to Democratic messages reduces their support. English and Kalla’s experiment borrows real-world messages from Democratic politicians and tests them with both a race-conscious component and a mix of race and class messaging. In either instance, telling subjects that a proposal would reduce racial inequity makes them less likely to support it:
Bigotry is evil, and it needs to be fought on every level, but using anti-racist virtue signaling as an alternative to meaningful change in a profoundly dysfunctional society, ends up harming both the progressive project and the ability to fight racism, because it reduces every government action to a zero sum game where the only determinant is ethnicity.