In other words, it looks as if the Republican Party is about to start paying a price for its history of exploiting racial antagonism. If that happens, it will be deeply ironic. But it will also be poetic justice.
I think calling it poetic justice is inadvertently giving the Democrats too much credit for actually doing anything minority issues on their own accord. If the Republicans are still committed to the southern strategy (fully evoking the antebellum meaning of the term) then the Democrats are just as committed to a Northern Strategy (i.e. where race was definitely an issue throughout the 19th century, and where full equality for African Americans was never on the agenda) have done little more than cash in as the "other party." The real justice would be if minorities of all races (and classes) created a third party that was actually committed to the issue of racial equality. It would mean that the Democrats couldn't just wait for electoral windfalls from simply being the "less evil" party. One could say the same at this point for issues of gender (especially reproductive freedom) but I've seen way too many haughty middle class white women lately who seem to think that the Republicans are their party to expect a mass of women to move any closer to protecting their own interests than possibly jumping to the Democrats. I don't know if Hillary makes that any more or less possible, but either case isn't very promising in terms of the issues that should matter most.
On that note, I've been really struck lately at how much women--especially new mothers--will put up with in terms of the boundaries their employers put on them. I guess at that point there is not much that can be done by an individual, but in an earlier age having to use vacation time for maternity leave (as one new mother I know has) or having to quit work altogether because the employer won't work with you on child care issues and flexible work schedules after only six weeks of maternity leave--these are the kinds of things that would get people pissed off and start rallying other mothers for some sort of expansion of maternity rights on a national level. It would seem that the absence of this even in the face of all the "culture of life" bullshit the GOP likes to brand itself with really goes to show how cowed we all are. Maybe there is some "netroots" going on about this somewhere, but most of the energy seems to be channeled into the dead end catacombs of the old party apparatuses, which seem to be committed to the "culture of life" in proportion to the life giving force of Dick Cheney's womb.
All of that will, of course, come to a head in the next few days when Bush commits the rhetorical/PR blunder of vetoing a bill on children's health care. I have no illusions right now about the robustness of the Democrats desire or ability to really change the health care industry, but it is actually poetic irony to have Bush signing such a veto: "Life begins at conception, but our responsibility for protecting it ends at birth." Sign on, you fanatical hypocrite; sign on.
[I suppose I should follow that by saying that the ideological framework of the Republican party is fully able to make this seem completely coherent. The danger, on the other hand, of cornering them on this point, is that the neither of the pure ideologies--19th century capitalism or 15th century theocratic absolutism--are all that appealing, though both find plenty of adherents within different sectors of the US public. If they were to choose one of the two for the sake of consistency, then it might turn off some of the swing voters, but I don't have complete faith that either would be stomped at the polls. There seems to be a genuine longing among a good portion of the US populace for the comforting arms of fascism or totalitarianism of some stripe so I wouldn't put it past them to overturn the rest of the 20th century for the committed adherence of any party to a comprehensive (and easily comprehendable) master narrative. I know this is a fairly cliched thing to say in this post-post-modern era, but I say it as a hypothesis rather than a conclusion.]