As I see the Republican Party slide more toward what I'd call the lunatic fringe, I've certainly thought more about how those of us who still hold out hope for a racially-just America can reach across colorlines -- and any other lines we have to reach across -- to ditch the craziness and get on with rebuilding a system that works for everybody.
That's why I was interested in this article by Melissa Harris-Perry that recently appeared in The Nation. I'm looking forward to reading the book she references here as well:
Hurricane Katrina was a powerful visual cue that Republicans are not the allies for black interests. In a matter of days it returned black voters solidly to the Democratic fold. Less than two years later Democrats won a majority in Congress. And in the next presidential election black voters formed the coalition base for the election of the first African-American president.
But as memories of Katrina become more distant and the reality of a black president becomes more routine, the possibility of shifting partisan alliances may re-emerge. In his forthcoming book, Not in Our Lifetimes, political scientist Michael Dawson maps the electoral consequences of the racial divide that reopened following Katrina. He shows that although black Americans responded with enthusiastic support for Obama’s candidacy, his election alone will not reverse decades of loosening attachment to Democrats. It is too early to predict whether black voters will go to the polls at the same levels they did in 2008, but Democrats should not take black votes for granted. The detachment of even a small percentage of African-Americans in the next election would be a boon for Republicans. It is not necessary for African-Americans to become Republican voters; only that they fail to become voters at all.