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Politics and race

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THE Democrats are accusing the Bush campaign of inflaming racial tensions. The Democrats have put their finger, accurately, on what this campaign is all about.

The central issue in this campaign, from the beginning, has been over whether the Democrats could win back those white voters we now call ``Reagan Democrats.''

Who are ``Reagan Democrats''?

Mostly they are Southern evangelicals, Northern ``blue collar'' workers, and pro-Zionist Jews.

These three categories of voters constitute identifiable cultural groups. All three are in a state of friction with the black community. All three tend to resent government help to blacks.

Ronald Reagan's political agenda has always been tailored to woo those three white communities. George Bush's campaign has continued all policies that appeal particularly to these three groups. He has departed from the Reagan agenda in some respects, but not on policies popular with those three.

The Reagan-Bush opposition to ``taxes'' translates in current politics as meaning slowing down on federal projects aimed at helping the black community - i.e., ``equal opportunity,'' ``affirmative action.'' By implication, Bush will refuse to raise the taxes that could provide the money to revive such programs.

The Reagan administration has also slowed down on enforcement of civil rights programs intended to help blacks. The stress in the Bush campaign on the case of the furloughed Massachusetts black who raped a white woman may imply to some voters that a Bush administration will also be more interested in imprisoning blacks than in worrying about their civil rights.

The Reagan administration is the most pro-Israel since Lyndon Johnson. The three in between - Nixon, Ford, and Carter - all tried to revive the earlier Eisenhower ``evenhanded'' attitude toward the Arab-Israel conflict. Bush's campaign posture is more pro-Israel than that of Michael Dukakis.

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