Why White People Vote Republican: The Lesson of Wilson Goode, Barack Obama, and Philadelphia

Wilson Goode: “Good” for black Philadelphia, bad for the City of Philadelphia

One thing that should be fairly obvious from the 2012 election results: the greater proximity to black people, the greater the odds a white person will vote Republican; conversely, the less exposure to black people, the greater the odds a white person will vote Democrat.

Insulation from black people, real black people (we aren’t talking about Denzel Washington or Morgan Freeman here) is the key to the Democratic Party maintaining the white working class vote and even those status-seeking white liberals whose every action in life is predicated around living an authentic Stuff White People Like – SWPL – life.

A lesson in the reality of why white people vote Republican (white people in the South started voting Republican when the party stood in opposition to the Civil Rights revolution in the 1960s) is offered in the powerful short book The Rhetoric of Black Mayors: In Their Own Words by Deborah F. Atwater. On p. 5 we learn this about the first black mayor of Philadelphia, Wilson Goode:

Running as a highly educated, hardworking, professional manager, he won approximately 23 percent of the white vote and 97-98 percent of the black vote [1983 election].  

But we must be clear about the city that Goode inherited. In his own words:

“The Philadelphia I inherited as the city’s first African-American Mayor was on the verge of collapse, suffering a slow hemorrhaging death from high inflation, a declining population, and an anemic revenue base created by the exodus of thousands of jobs.” 

However, in 1987 when he ran against Frank Rizzo, he was suddenly less of a technocrat and more of a politician. He won by a mere 17,000 votes (97 percent blacks voting for Goode). His support in the white community had decreased as whites defected to the Republican Party. 

We, of course, can’t be clear about the source of the decline in Philadelphia, which enabled the election of the first black mayor in the city’s history in 1983. Why would white people flee the city, reducing the white population (and white percentage of the electorate) to the point where they could be eclipsed in an election – merely a referendum on “racial democracy” – by the monolithic black vote?

The rise in the black population was the source of the declining population, with white people fleeing their once safe communities made unsafe by high rates of black criminality. Jobs – with white people being the ‘job creators’ – left with them. Unable to create new jobs, the increasing black population turned to public jobs to create a black middle class.

In the process, white people turned to the Republican Party; while the Democrat Party in Philadelphia slowly turned into a racial party looking to promote the interests of black people (and take complete control of the city government through the hiring of exclusively black people), the Republican Party became the de-facto “white” party in Philly, though no political party can actively seek the promotion of white interests.

The New York Times reported on Nov. 5, 1987 that Wilson Goode re-elected by black vote:

“Forward” and “together” were the key words, the first because the mayor now is seen among politicians as having the opportunity to move forcefully ahead, unfettered by re-elction concerns, on an unfinished agenda that has long frustrated him, the second because the racially polarized character of his fragile victory margin underscored the division that continue in the nation’s fourth most populous city.  

The election returns showed clearly that blacks voted overwhelmingly for Goode, a 49-year-old Democrat who is the first black mayor in the city’s history, and whites overwhelmingly for Rizzo, a 67-year-old Democrat turned Republican.  

… the unofficial tally gave Goode 332,396, to 318, 527 for Rizzo… Four years ago, in the Democratic mayoral primary, Goode defeated Rizzo by 10 percentage points. His much narrower margin of victory this time was attributed to a number of factors. 
For instance, in their 1983 contest, a Democratic primary, blacks accounted for a higher proportion of the electorate, nearly half, than the 40 percent they constituted Tuesday.  

White middle-class and working class voters in Northeast and South Philadelphia, Rizzo strongholds, turned out in heavier numbers than in 1983. And there, in sample bellwether wards, they gave Rizzo 84 percent of the vote. Conversely Goode rolled up larger majorities than even his supporters had forecast. In one group of black bellwether precincts, Goode received 97 percent of the vote. Had he not rung up such percentages, he might well have lost. 

The white working class understood what was happening to Philadelphia in 1987; they understand what black neighbors do to property value — they drive it down (with their black children remaking the school system in their image; posting test scores below the white average and requiring more attention from administrators for their “discipline” problems). They turned to a former Democrat in Rizzo, who had been burned by black primary voters in 1983.

As we know from reading The Philadelphia Experiment: The Streets of Philly Forever Changed, white people abandoned the city. In a word, trying to raise a family or run a business in a city where high rates of black crime is an everyday reality isn’t conducive to becoming maintaining ones physical, mental or financial health.

So do we have today? Complete black political control of Philadelphia, accentuated by the recent re-eleciton of Barack Obama, which saw Republican Mitt Romney received zero votes in 59 voting divisions [In 59 Philadelphia voting divisions, Mitt Romney got zero votes, Philly.com, 11-12-12]:

It’s one thing for a Democratic presidential candidate to dominate a Democratic city like Philadelphia, but check out this head-spinning figure: In 59 voting divisions in the city, Mitt Romney received not one vote. Zero. Zilch. These are the kind of numbers that send Republicans into paroxysms of voter-fraud angst, but such results may not be so startling after all. “We have always had these dense urban corridors that are extremely Democratic,” said Jonathan Rodden, a political science professor at Stanford University. 

“It’s kind of an urban fact, and you are looking at the extreme end of it in Philadelphia.” Most big cities are politically homogeneous, with 75 percent to 80 percent of voters identifying as Democrats. Cities are not only bursting with Democrats: They are easier to organize than rural areas where people live far apart from one another, said Sasha Issenberg, author of The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns. 

“One reason Democrats can maximize votes in Philadelphia is that it’s very easy to knock on every door,” Issenberg said. Still, was there not one contrarian voter in those 59 divisions, where unofficial vote tallies have President Obama outscoring Romney by a combined 19,605 to 0? 

The unanimous support for Obama in these Philadelphia neighborhoods – clustered in almost exclusively black sections of West and North Philadelphia – fertilizes fears of fraud, despite little hard evidence

Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia who has studied African American precincts, said he had occasionally seen 100 percent of the vote go for the Democratic candidate. Chicago and Atlanta each had precincts that registered no votes for Republican Sen. John McCain in 2008. “I’d be surprised if there weren’t a handful of precincts that didn’t cast a vote for Romney,” he said. But the number of zero precincts in Philadelphia deserves examination, Sabato added. “Not a single vote for Romney or even an error? 

That’s worth looking into,” he said. In a city with 1,687 of the ward subsets known as divisions, each with hundreds of voters, 59 is about 3.5 percent of the total. In some of those divisions, it’s not only Romney supporters who are missing. Republicans in general are nearly extinct. 

Take North Philadelphia’s 28th Ward, third division, bounded by York, 24th, and 28th Streets and Susquehanna Avenue. About 94 percent of the 633 people who live in that division are black. Seven white residents were counted in the 2010 census. In the entire 28th Ward, Romney received only 34 votes to Obama’s 5,920.

White people are not allowed to look out for their own interests, while we see city after city (Romney received zero votes in 9 Cleveland, Ohio precincts) turned into an area governed by black monolithic voting. 

Because of high rates of black crime and the destruction of property value (tied to the quality of life created in the community) when black families came to outnumber white families in the neighborhoods of Philadelphia, white people were – in a word- ethnically cleansed from the city. 

The white working class in Vermont, Maine, Oregon, and Washington doesn’t have to contend with rising percentages of black people; thus, they can afford to vote Democrat. 

The lesson of Frank Rizzo and Philadelphia? Once you go black, you never go back.  

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