Late last week, Democratic-leaning pollster Stan Greenberg released a focus group study showing that conservative GOP base voters live in an alternative universe of their own political paranoia. In this world, President Obama is ruthlessly advancing a secret agenda to ruin — yes, ruin — the economy so he can impose socialism upon the United States and destroy the core civil liberties of American democracy. And in this covert crusade, Obama is no more than a frontman for unseen interests aiming to annihilate the United States.
This dark view was propounded by die-hard right-wingers — older, white Republican-base voters — who participated in focus groups Greenberg conducted in Georgia. These people, who said they were part of a nascent resistance movement (which includes Fox News, Glenn Beck, and the Tea Parties), are committed to Obama’s failure. But while Greenberg’s report notes that these folks “stand a world apart from the rest of America,” it also insists that race (that is, Obama’s race) is “not what was bothering them about President Obama.” This part of the report is headlined “Race: Get Over It.”
I wonder if it’s that simple. Greenberg reports that the conservatives in these focus groups did not explicitly express racial animus toward the president. They generally maintained that their opposition to Obama has nothing to do with race. But would they have such a conspiratorial and harsh take on Obama were he white?
Denial is not a river in Egypt. Not all racists have the balls to openly admit their racism to themselves, let alone anyone they don’t already know is a racist. But most of them know racism is morally and ethically repugnant, they just don’t understand why. It’s far easier to hide behind every crazy batshit notion someone farts up: like he’s a sekrit Muslim; he has a sekrit master plan to destroy America (that his entire cabinet, wife, children, and dog are in on) that is so deviously brilliant, that only the dumbest mopes in our country can detect it. (It’s all in the type of foil you make your hat out of.)
It’s not just Obama’s policies that these conservatives suspect; they believe he’s not real — on two significant levels. First, they claim that questions remain about his origins, including his birth. Second, they told Greenberg’s researchers that there was something nefarious about Obama’s rise to power — that there was no way a former community organizer could reach the White House on his own merits. These conservatives believe Obama was placed in 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. by forces intent on wiping out the United States they know and love.
For them, Obama is an unqualified puppet who represents the “other” — and is doing the bidding of his evil overlords. That’s both nutty and condescending.
Ya think?!? And you can bet your white ass all those “evil overlords” are brown, black, blue, yellow, green, or chartreuse, but they are not white— like good American Conservatives are. Oh; except for Michael Steele, that unfortunate white man trapped in a black man’s body.
But the anti-Obama sentiment of today appears deeper and wider — and even more untethered from reality. Consider a recent poll taken of Tennesseans. Nearly half (47 percent) of the state’s Republicans said Obama was born in another country (say, Kenya). The same amount of GOPers (48 percent) said that Obama was probably or definitely a secret Muslim. (About one-third of all Tennesseans held these beliefs.) Are these positions not shaped by race? After all, how many Southern GOPers would believe a left-of-center white politician who for years had attended Christian churches and whose birth was recorded by a state office and local newspapers was a secret Muslim who had been delivered in Africa?
These days, explicit racism is widely regarded as unacceptable. Yet it’s quite possible that unsupported folly of this sort has become a stand-in for outright racial opposition.
Now you’re gettin’ it. They “don’t care” what color his skin is. They just “care” that he’s a traitor to everything decent, God-fearin’ white folk love and treasure in this world and that’s got nothing to do with the fact he’s a loathsome ignorant evil commie fascist socialist bastard a million times worse than Satan/Hitler/Mao/Stalin, defamation of your choice _______ , black son of a bitch.
If a conservative can assert that the problem with Obama is that he fronts for a diabolical enemy within, is a secret Muslim, and has mounted a coverup to hide his birth in Africa,
.. that has brainwashed untold numbers of white intimates, ignorant liberals, and strangers, and is so awesomely and spectacularly devious that he was able to subvert his mother to the scheme— from the womb— as an evil fetus…
then [a] right-winger can tell himself (and focus group moderators) that his feelings about Obama aren’t about race. But here’s the question that needs asking: Why do conservatives — especially Southern conservatives — believe all this rot? (In 2000, a Daily Kos poll found that six times as many Southerners as Northeasterners believed Obama was not born in the United States.)
Whoa. Let’s count the ways.
Conservative Southerners don’t live in the “South”as much as they live in the Past. And that includes first and foremost, the ideology of the past. And what an “ideology” it is, too: conservatives supported slavery; opposed women’s suffrage; supported Jim Crow; opposed the 40-hour work week; opposed ending child labor; and conservatives supported McCarthyism.
Conservatives are cowards; Southern conservatives are just the most virulent exemplar. They’re afraid of— and can thereby justify hatred of— everything: persons, places, and things: terrorists; domestic terrorists; imaginary terrorists; suspected imaginary terrorists; socialists; commies; fascists; Muslims; hom0sexuals; illegal immigrants; health care reform; chopsticks; God; Truth; Beauty; Goodness; Democrats; Liberals; science; evolution; education; MSNBC; equal opportunity; libraries; France; long hair on men; culottes; health food; well, anything that’s not fried; and of course, “others.”
They’re also FAT. Unless you were too busy finishing that pizza to notice, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States over the past two decades, and the highest rates are all in the southern states: Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Oklahoma; Mississippi leads this parade at 32.8%.
Ultimately, the reasons for conservative alienation and paranoia may not matter. Caused by race or not, this phenomenon will continue to pollute the national political discourse and vex Republican Party leaders, who must court these unhinged voters without turning off reality-based independents and reasonable Republicans. ~snip
Yeah, good luck with that. If Republican leaders had any real values, they’d tell all these nutwhads to go fuck themselves, and to never go near a voting booth again. But they don’t, and they won’t. So the Republican party must continue its noisy, obnoxious death rattle, by becoming completely and unalterably linked with the craziest, stupidest, most fearful and hateful examples of degenerate human beings you can find on the face of the earth.
And ironically, that’s a good thing. As elections come and go, so will the Republican party, until they can no longer obstruct the necessary changes our country so desperately needs to survive— as a nation— and as a people in the world.
I’ll miss them— about as much as I would miss any life-threatening disease.