Monday, November 03, 2008

Barack Obama as Straw Man, Part Three: What about the Future?

What does all this talk of racism and false accusations about Barack Obama’s upbringing and religion really matter? Can’t we agree that tempers flare during national elections? Didn’t the same happen to George Bush in 2000 and 2004? But the difference is in people’s expectations for the coming four-year administration. Their expectations are implied in their accusations.

When Barack Obama is called a terrorist or a Muslim (read terrorist), the expectations are clear—he stands against everything that Americans value. Who could possibly want to elect a president who secretly plans to destroy the state, or allow his co-terrorist/Muslims do it for him? If we are to heed the warnings of George W. Bush, we will know that there is no negotiating with terrorists. They are incapable of rational thinking. End of discussion. But what if a terrorist/Muslim were to find a way to be elected president of the United States? The prospects for good governance are presented with a major obstacle.

When I talked to a few people in Ohio this past week, I did get a few (off camera) statements about the prospects of an Obama presidency. One man kept it short and sweet. I simply asked him; “What does an Obama presidency look like to you?” His one word answer; “Scary.” This was the same man that started our conversation by mentioning that Barack Obama’s birth records had secretly been sealed by the governor of Hawaii, to protect the truth that he was actually born in Kenya. This is the same man that said he crossed party lines to vote for Hillary Clinton to be a part of Rush Limbaugh’s primary season “Operation Chaos.”

This man is not alone. With so much vitriol being aimed at Barack Obama it raises a serious question about the next four years. What if perosn is elected president who is accused of not only sympathizing, but also being friends with terrorists? What if we elect a president that is suspected to secretly be Muslim and a potential terrorist sleeper cell? What does this say about our government and democratic system?

Glenn Loury summed it up well on Bill Moyers Journal on Friday:
“Should Obama win, now you have a president of the United States who a lot of people think is illegitimate as a person who consorts with murderers, as a person who's sympathetic to terrorists. It's de-legitimating of the president of the United States. It's poisoning the well in a certain way.

You do what you have to do to win an election. But then after the election the person has to govern. And now what has been said about that person continues to echo in the minds of citizens. And I'm worried that in this case the suggestion that Obama is somehow going to get in the White House and, you know, sell out the country will hurt all of us should he win and need to govern.”

This goes beyond misguided policy and hypocritical statements. This goes beyond cynical politics and feelings of helplessness on the part of the electorate. This is not just election year hyperbole. This strikes at the heart of the credibility of our government and our leaders' ability to solve the porblems with the economy and two wars. Not only in Barack Obama's ability to govern, but in the legitimacy of the US presidency and our democratic process.

Those that choose these lines of attack are sowing the seeds of hate that will have lasting effects long after the campaign ends. Just ask Bill Clinton about campaign 'hyperbole' in the case of Vince Foster. That didn't just go away. But of course we're talking about a line of attack that goes deeper than a shady suicde. We're talking about one man's quest to tank the most powerful nation on earth.

This campaign got ugly in october, but the sentiments had been there all along. Now as we wait to see the results tomorrow night, we cannot pretend as if all of the hate speech, myths, and flat out lies will just disappear. We don't know what will happen if Barack Obama is elected president, but we know what we have to do to fight racism and dangerous lies in our communities. Many with prejudice and dangerous beliefs have shown their true colors during this election. Now we must continue to stand up to them and fight back as we try to change this country for the better.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?