Thursday, September 15, 2011

It's a Black Thing: but not the one we all thought...

"We" all thought that Obama was going to change not only "things," but the country. That was the underlying assumption for electing Obama. We thought, "Okay, if we can elect a black man, well, then, hell, we actually have a shot of turning this thing around. The country has a chance."

Target for racism.
The thing that we missed was the core issue: It wasn't about electing one person for change; it was a change that would never be accepted... 
It wasn't about change through the presidency. It was about the far right tilt of the country that started with the election of George W. Bush. What we failed to fully grasp was that the republican party would be so angry with the election of this man--a man who continued more of republican policies than anyone expected--that they would veer so far to the right that Reagan, with his tendency to compromise with the left on occasion, would be considered a moderate. He would be laughed out of the same party that recalls his memory when they need it for votes. That Newt Gingrich, who represented the right wing known in the early 90s as the "bomb-throwing" neo-conservatives, would be considered too liberal for the republican party. This was never about what we no the left thought it was about, to wit: winning back the House and the Senate. Those were temporary victories. The battle we apparently never won--or even knew really existed--was the battle for racial inequality.

Perfect storm of anger, bad economy, and racism. 
What no one figured in the aftermath of the 2008 election was that the underlying conservative current of the United States--something some very smart people have fought hard to argue against--was more like a riptide of discontent against government and bad economic conditions, mixed with fear of a black man running things.

Just as Iraq had never had a rallying cry for al Qaeda until the Iraq war (and recruitment for that organization went through the roof in the years after the start of the Iraq war), the far right never had a greater recruitment and consolidation initiative than Obama himself--simply because of his skin color. It's probably one of the most horrific conclusions I've ever had to draw, but there is little to undermine the logic behind it.

Has any previous president been this demonized?
Fear of a black man? Yes, fear of a black man.
How can one back that statement up? Well, just a simple laundry list of racist tea party signs will back up this claim, but there's something more subtle, more sinister at work here, and it involves simple logic:

The Bush administration was the first in many ways: It was the first administration to oversee trillion dollar budget deficits (NB: Ronald Reagan was the first president to oversee multi-hundred billion dollar budget deficits in non-war time--the narrative that Democrats are the spendthrifts is a myth; it's always been the Republican administration's that spend spend spend!) It was the first administration to lie about the reasons for war (unless one includes Vietnam) and then pre-emptively prosecuted the war (one must exclude Vietnam here). The Bush administration was the first to double the country's national debt--something that took 70 years to accumulate--in just a few short years. The Bush administration was the first to oversee the country's longest war--10 years--in Afghanistan. And the Bush administration was the first to oversee the worst-ever terrorist attack on its soil that was, according to some sources at least, preventable.  (Having worked in and around the Federal government for most of my adult life, however, I can tell you that this is probably not true--the government is pretty incompetent when it comes to integrating/sharing/consolidating information. Period.)

Obama's policies are centrist; it doesn't matter to them.
But I digress. How does this relate to racism? 
To fear of the black man in the white house? Well, the thing is, none of the right wing folks were angry about any of these trespasses during the Bush administration. I mean, where were they when Bush promised that the Iraq war would cost "only" $2.3 billion dollars in 2003, or in the years after this estimate? Where was the tea party when Bush doubled the national debt? Where were the fiscal conservatives when Bush raised the national debt limit? I can tell you where House Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor--two of the most vociferous opponents to the debt ceiling increase under Obama--were: they were voting for the Bush proposal to increase it. Along with the majority of their colleagues and those on the other side of the aisle (democrats And every single program and proposal that Obama has suggested to try to help the most vulnerable in this country has been opposed by the right time and time again.

Wait, but what's the reason again?
If Bush was able to work with democrats. And Clinton was able to work with republicans. And Reagan was able to work with democrats. Why, then, are today's republicans so incredibly anti-this-president? Why are they willing, in their own words to "burn this house down," and "risk the good faith and credit of the country" and do basically anything to see that Obama loses, when under previous administrations, there has been a degree (if not always a *great* degree) of comity and negotiation? And why, when Obama has continued sooooo many of Bush's policies--and has even proposed many republican policy changes to social programs--is every, single, thing he's proposed been shouted down?

I disagree with a lot of what Obama has done, but agree with his effort to engage in bipartisanship, which is how our country used to be governed (but only for about 200 years or so--what did they know?)

There can only be but one reason for the right's rejection of all things Obama...
There is no other answer. Obama has hired corporate people and has hired republicans. Hell, he kept the secretary of defense for a while, and even Obama's former ambassador to China is now a presidential candidate. He offered changes to sacrosanct social programs and continued Bush's tax cuts.

But it wasn't and isn't enough. It will never be enough. Because it's not about policies. And it never has been.

Clinton didn't face this level of anger and hated, including being called names and ad hominem attacks from the "respectable right," even after his lies about his inane sexual antics came to light. They hated him for it, but they reserved their special brand of invective for Obama, it seems. Someone who has basically reached out his hand repeatedly to the right--and much to my chagrin, often ignoring the protestations of his base. The response from the right, again, has been deafening silence and an aggressive cold shoulder that says, "We reject you, Mr. President. Not because of your policy positions--which most closely mirror those of our own party and of George Bush, including nuclear power, Bush tax cuts, Guantanamo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Social Security and Medicare. No, we reject you not for your views, many of which you actually share with us, but for something much more sinister:

We reject you--and policies which could improve health of the country--because you're black, and we only succeed if the country fails and you lose re-election because of it.

I'm sure Obama is aware of this, and even though I don't agree with a lot of his policies, I admire his willingness to keep fighting against the racism which underlies all the tea party-driven attacks.

(NOTE: Sorry for any typos or errors--and no fun graphics--I'm not going to edit this. I'm tired and need to go to bed; and even more importantly, I need to post this.)

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