The Sad News of A Bad Bet

The sad news is that Republicans have added to their list of the left’s conspiracies: the latest being the notion that Barack Obama actually won reelection as the President of the United States. Of course, Barack Obama received 62.26 million popular votes, won 26 states with 332 electoral votes—an electoral vote number that GOP pundits Dick Morris, George Will, Newt Gingrich and others predicted and called a “landslide”—for Romney! When the President actually achieved those numbers, becoming one of only five Democrats in history to twice receive 50 percent of the vote, the same bokors of make-believe called it a close election, becoming one of the few conspiracy groups in history to ignore the obvious.

Conspiracies are usually built around things unseen. In the dark mysteries of human ideas, conspiracies are born when people spring to action to carry out evil and destruction to gain power and turn human suffering into a demonic benefit that destroys the cherished good of freedom and prosperity. Conspiracies attack a life reasonably free of want, and crush to ruins a pride based on person production and skill.

History is filled with the great societies of prosperity and pride with a legacy of inside and outside conspiracies; ancient Egypt, the Mayans and Incas, the Dynasties of China and Persia, the Iroquois and the Sioux nations. These early societies had material wealth and superior knowledge, exhibited fantastic engineering success beyond their spectacular buildings. China and Persia, and the Mayans, for example, had extensive underground water systems, with reservoirs. But conspiracists no longer embrace global, historic or infrastructure success. For many conspiracists, these successes are an a priori sign of an invisible cabal, whose power is multiplied by the depth of its secrecy.

So of all the conspiracies attributed to Barack Obama, it was obvious that socialists carrying clipboards with petitions, illegal ACORN registrations, or backdoor gifts from socialist Europe or radical communist countries like Cuba, Estonia, Russia or China didn’t win the election. (Although the Romney-Sheldon Adelson connection offers fertile ground for outside influence by China and Israel!) It was obvious that the million mailed releases of a DVD tying Barack’s mother to Chicago labor leader Frank Marshall Davis, claiming a new baby daddy for infant Barack (one which incidentally would have firmly established his American citizenship—at odds with birther conspiracies!), didn’t work, either.

It’s also hard to claim that a President with a good mid-range jump shot and an arching, floating lay-up, who picks his own NCAA Final Four brackets (men and women’s), regularly invites Stevie Wonder to the White House, and brews his own pale ale from White House honey needs “to learn how to be an American.” So as all the conspiracies failed, falling one by one, it was obvious: Barack Obama won due to a yet-undiscovered-conspiracy even more wrongheaded and subversive than the GOP overpaid crybabies had thought!

Before we say “good riddance,” let’s do a careful review. For Karl Rove and many others, race has all minuses and no pluses in national politics. They assume a wider distribution of doubt and lingering worry over race than the actual election results revealed. What they missed is that as race once magnified negatives—the stereotypes of criminality, morality and personal ethics—it now also multiplies the character of success, skills at speaking, reasoning, caring, leadership and vision.

Rove and others assume these positive traits are dampened down by race. As they see it, race limits the upside of the positive narrative while acting to amplify and enlarge mistakes and negatives. But their cultural calculus is passing from a changing American national community; the new American national identity is a patriotism that proactively seeks to include all heritage communities and build a national community of trust and tolerance. In this America, stereotypes have almost no impact on the acceptability for leadership among members of heritage communities. Stereotypes do still exist, but as jokes that ridicule old-school thinking as much as they do the targeted group. Look carefully: much of contemporary humor uses stereotypes to laugh at the notions and distortions that stereotypes imply—and mock the stereotypes themselves!

But for Rove and others, the old ideas are still life and death. In a great irony, they see the election of a black man as President as the death of liberty rather than its celebration. Liberty has killed itself, they think, by going too far and becoming imprudent. Thus, their campaigns are always about the dangers of democracy: the decisions and acts that are, in their defective world view, excesses, bad, condemned. Continue reading The Sad News of A Bad Bet

Digging Deeper: Sununu's Gallows of Hate

At first, for a fleeting second, the irony seemed delicious. A sycophant of Mitt Romney, the American candidate with foreign bank accounts, says, “I wish this President would learn how to be an American.” But this quickly turned ugly. It was worse than being called “nigger.” That word has a history, is anchored in the nation’s fabric, is a backlash that marked progress, represents barriers climbed and conquered, and sounds the warnings that those who lynch and burn are coming again. That word has hate but has a life tied to the blood and sweat spilled as a people moved from slavery to freedom. It is a racial slur but it is also a moral compass that marks the cliff, the place America has currently claimed as too far. Ironically, it was a common public word in the 19th century. It routinely appeared in newspapers and in conversation.

But there is no fleeting irony or routine sentiment in John Sununu’s view of our President’s past. His is the kind of insubordination and attitude for which those enslaved were physically whipped or put on wheels, punished within an inch of their lives, but he drew his bias with impunity:

“He has no idea how the American system functions, and we shouldn’t be surprised about that, because he spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something, spent the next set of years in Indonesia, another set of years in Indonesia, and, frankly, when he came to the U.S. he worked as a community organizer, which is a socialized structure.”

To which a reader of the Atlantic replied, “Romney needs more Sununus.”

Hatred meet causal indifference, a hate that does not have to be inflamed, but is a snack food, a lollipop flavor, easily consumed for its comfort, embraced by its supporters with a smug revelation that the sky will not fall in their hatred of undeserving, non-American (or American!) Negroes. So hate is the new feel-good fitness track, the workout that makes others sweat, the stress reliever of American politics. It has taken on a creative life. But its purpose is the same: to strip anyone who isn’t ideologically white of any shelf space in American life. Hate is the post-date expiration for the American dream. Continue reading Digging Deeper: Sununu’s Gallows of Hate

Sunday Talks, 1/8/12

Center stage on this Sunday’s television talk shows is a special edition of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” which is joining Facebook to host the last Republican presidential debate before Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.

It will be the . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, 1/8/12