Byko: Republicans are racist? Sure, but so are Democrats

USA-ELECTION
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

"RACIST. SEXIST. Homophobic. Xenophobic. Islamophobic."

That was Hillary Clinton's droning description of half of the Donald Trump cohort. She later apologized for saying "half" and revised it, presumably downward, but who really knows?

Trump earlier called Clinton a "bigot."

Meanwhile, Colin Kaepernick is taking a knee.

Clinton's monotone recitation before an adoring crowd had an element of truth. But Democrats don't have surgically clean hands - and won't like hearing that.

Surprisingly, Trump didn't reply in kind, but could have said this about Clinton's supporters:

"Marxist. Atheist. Immoral. Gunophobic. Unpatriotic."

That has an element of truth, too.

Because I live in a sea of Democrats, I know that many of them wear an aura of moral superiority that is not attractive. In fact, it's putrid.

Disagree with them on any issue, they reach for their 5-star default: "Racist. Sexist. Homophobic. Xenophobic. Islamophobic."

A progressive friend says if the shoe fits, wear it. Maybe he needs a new shoe store.

There's an old saying that when you point a finger at someone else, three are pointed back at you. It turns out that Democrats are nearly as bad on race as those they call deplorable.

Two years ago, the respected fivethirtyeight website asked: "Are white Republicans more racist than white Democrats?"

Authors Nate Silver and Allison McCann concede the data are not perfect in determining racism, but they found trends in the answers to eight race-related questions.

The difference between members of the two parties is generally small. Yes, Republicans score generally "worse," but Democrats share some of the bad feelings they usually ascribe to others.

The important thing, I think, is how much negative attitudes have dropped in the last 20 years or so.

The most profound statistic, to me, was this: The number of whites who said they'd object to a close relative marrying a black person has fallen off a cliff. In 1990, 65 percent of Democrats said they would object, as did 71 percent of Republicans. By 2012 those numbers were 20 percent of Democrats and 27 percent of Republicans.

That's amazing because the question was about accepting someone into your family, something that's very personal and visceral.

One-fifth of Democrats and one-quarter of Republicans still would say no, but that's a huge difference from the large majorities of just 25 years ago.

Let's look at the other measures used by fivethirtyeight:

Would you vote for a black person to become president? In 2010, 94 percent of Republicans said they would, contrasted to 97 percent of Democrats. It was very different in 1988, when Jesse Jackson was a candidate. In that year, 81 percent of Republicans said yes, while fewer Democrats, 77 percent, also said yes.

Asked whether blacks are "less intelligent," fivethirtyeight reports, between 1990 and 2008, Republicans were slightly more likely to agree, but the "gap erased itself in the past two surveys, 2010 and 2012, under Obama's presidency." The figure is now less than 20 percent for each.

Are blacks "lazy"? Republicans are slightly more likely to feel that way, with 35 percent, contrasted with 31 percent of Democrats. In 1990, the number for each was just under 50 percent.

Do blacks "lack the motivation to pull themselves out of poverty"? In 2012, 57 percent of white Republicans and 41 percent of white Democrats said yes.

Asked if they would object to living in a half-black neighborhood, the numbers have declined greatly since the 1990s, fivethirtyeight reports. The partisan gap is small - each under 30 percent, from more than 50 percent in 1990.

Asked the subjective question of feeling "close" to blacks, the number hasn't changed much over the years. It's about 10 percent for white Republicans and 20 percent for white Democrats. In 1996 it was about 20 percent for each.

The final question asked whether society spends too much money trying to improve the condition of blacks. Here we have the largest gap, but fivethirtyeight notes that many Republicans dislike government spending on anything, adding that this doesn't necessarily reflect racial bias. In 2012, 32 percent of Republicans said we spend too much, compared to 9 percent of Democrats.

Combining all the results, fivethirtyeight found racist feelings in 2012 in 27 percent of white Republicans and 19 percent of white Democrats, down from 41 percent for Republicans and 40 percent for Democrats in 1990.

"There are white racists in both parties," but are a minority of white voters, say the authors.

The survey was done before the rise of Trump, and the GOP numbers are probably worse today, but that doesn't diminish the "bad" Democratic attitudes.

In any event, the "hate curve" is down. If the trend continues over the next 25 years - and I think it will - we'll be down to single digits.

Wouldn't that be nice?

stubyko@phillynews.com

215-854-5977 @StuBykofsky

Blog: ph.ly/Byko