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Three Basic Concepts That Will Help You Understand Mitt Romney's Appeal Among White Voters


There are three concepts that are especially helpful for understanding why white people, and white men in particular, support Mitt Romney. These frameworks are also very useful for making sense of white racial resentment, an enraged type of White Privilege, and  the rise of anti-black and brown affect in the four years since President Obama became president.

The first is the idea of  "cognitive mapping":

For Jameson, cognitive mapping is a way of understanding how the individual´s representation of his or her social world can escape the traditional critique of representation because the mapping is intimately related to practice – to the individual´s successful negotiation of urban space. Cognitive mapping in this sense is the metaphor for the processes of the political unconscious. It is also, however, the model for how we might begin to articulate the local and the global. It provides a way of linking the most intimately local – our particular path through the world – and the most global – the crucial features of our political planet...

The second is the concept of a  "lifeworld":

By this means, lifeworld describes a person’s subjectively experienced world, whereas life conditions describe the person’s actual circumstances in life. Accordingly, it could be said that a person’s lifeworld is built depending on their particular life conditions. More precisely, the life conditions include the material and immaterial living circumstances as for example employment situation, availability of material resources, housing conditions, social environment (friends, foes, acquaintances, relatives, etc.) as well as the persons physical condition (fat/thin, tall/small, female/male, healthy/sick, etc.). The lifeworld, in contrast, describes the subjective perception of these conditions.

The third idea is the  "white racial frame":

Since its development in the 17th century, this racial frame has been a “master frame,” a dominant framing that provides a generic meaning system for the racialized society that became the United States. The white racial frame provides the vantage point from which European American oppressors have long viewed North American society. In this racial framing, whites have combined racial stereotypes (the cognitive aspect), metaphors and interpretive concepts (the deeper cognitive aspect), images (the visual aspect), emotions (feelings), and inclinations to discriminatory action. This frame buttresses, and grows out of the material reality of racial oppression...

When you watch Fox News and it makes not a bit of sense to you because you are not part of that subculture and skewed reality, these three concepts will help you.

When you try to understand why many white conservatives are brought to mouth frothing rage at the mere mention of Barack Obama, and then proceed to recycle nonsense about birtherism, "affirmative action," and how he is oppressing white people, these three concepts will help you.

When you want to make sense of why so many white people, and white men in particular,  are supporting Mitt Romney, even while admitting that his policies will hurt people like them, these three concepts will help you.

Knowing is half the battle. Knowledge will also make you more calm, at peace, and happy. An understanding of these concepts is also indispensable for making sense of the outcome of the election this Tuesday. Mitt Romney was not been playing three dimensional chess in order to beat Barack Obama. No, he was simply using a centuries old strategy, one that dates back to the founding of the republic, to defeat the country's first black president. When viewed from that perspective, Romney's strategy of wholesale lying and naked racial appeals is a thing of simplicity, one that is deeply rooted in the American political tradition.