The 2012 Presidential Election is all about the hot steaming pile we call the American economy, stupid, right? Whether you blame President Obama or the Republican obstructionists who would sacrifice the nation just to destroy him. It’s all about the unemployment rate and the debt and revenue and entitlements and the GDP and the Tea Party and Wall Street and #OWS and the one percent and the 99 percent—in sum, as Keith Olbermann now signs off each night, the day after day of “this crap” we’re all trying to get through.
On a broader scale the election is also about the wars on women, labor and voting rights. It’s about repealing the 20th century, whether a Right Wing coup will take us back to a Kochian-utopia circa 1893, when folks worked in sweatshops—and liked it, goddammit—for magnates and robber barons and other plutocrats who threw parties at Sherry’s and Delmonico’s and Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish’s —and essentially ruled the earth (even more than now).
And it was about an America where “our blacks,” as Ann Coulter so Ann Coulteresquely put it, knew their place.
Indeed, as much as anything—perhaps more—the 2012 election is about race.
For three years, we have heard the Right vow to “take this country back.” We have heard endless other coded messages—“dog whistles,” they call them these days— reinforcing the fact that Barack Hussein Obama is an uppity African-American. Aside from the racist signs and blogs and GOP emails, and the efforts to paint this moderate (too much so for much of his base), reasonable, enlightened man as a wild-eyed radical who does not believe in “American exceptionalism,” there is (still, remarkably) “birtherism”—a racially-charged lunatic conspiracy theory designed to smear him as an “other” or even a Manchurian Candidate foreign agent.
There have also been the systematic attempts by leading Republicans to delegitimize the President—the “You lie!”style dissing by members of Congress–including Speaker Boehner, who historically denied the Commander-in-Chief his preferred date to address a Joint Session.
And now, as Rick Perry would phrase it, they’re “having some fun” with his grades—for, after all, how could a black man legitimately make it through two Ivy League Schools, head the Harvard Law Review and teach constitutional law?
The GOP is a white man’s party, still pursuing its pernicious Southern Strategy (which certainly works in states like Mississippi, where a recent poll showed that 46 percent of Republicans either believe interracial marriage should be illegal, or aren’t sure). There are exceptions, so few you can name them. Some well-paid TV pundits. Michael Steele. Wingnuts like Alan Keyes and Allen West.
And then there is Herman Cain. Whether or not you dismiss him as a “minstrel” providing the GOP cover against charges of racism–as the African-American writer Toure has said; or as just another part of the Republican sideshow, no one can take this demonstrably ignorant carny barker for real presidential candidate.
And of course there is his campaign commercial. Not the “cigarette man” spot, but the one nobody talks about–the climax of which shows a white redneck punching out a black man.
No, the real candidates are two 60-something white guys, one a plutocratic Mormon—and while I wouldn’t brand him racist, his sect has, certainly, a complicated racial track record; the other a states rights Texan who sees nothing wrong with confederate flags, secession talk and rocks inscribed “N—–head.”
So, Barack Obama, who had the temerity to defeated an old white guy in 2008, will likely face another in 2012. Should he lose, God forbid, they’ll get their country back—or so it will seem for a time.
But the national complexion is changing—it’s getting browner, and there is nothing Pat Buchanan or the racist wing of the Tea Party, or Rush Limbaugh or Donald Trump or the Florida GOP can do about it.