So now here we are. Laurels and laments. Libation-filled laudatory and lugubrious leaps of self-loathing. One side won and the other lost. Clearly. Actually, lost is too tepid a word. Despite their seeing it, feeling it ... being there, one side has yet to realize just how far it was reined in. The party of "No." The crazy house. The conspiratorial dolts with a mean streak. The far right is seeing its final days... or not.
Yet before you are enticed to join the ranks from the right, remember, before November 6, 2012, how they treated anyone they deemed as "other" that just looked like you? No? Read on.
Back Then and There
"I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges, but let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again ... If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf will not act, we will." -- then-Senator Barack Obama, at a speech in 2007
These were the words of Senator Obama that, for me, were the first presidential strides the candidate took. In discussing how he'd go after enemies of America, especially in a Musharraf-led Pakistan, he marginalized his main rival Hillary Clinton while making the Bush administration look small and inept. From that moment on I supported him because he seemed... reasonable. It would be a double-edged sword for him but, back then and there, with this prophetic statement, liberals began to see and hear a popular and powerful voice as he expressed direct, knowledgeable, and reasonable ideas about how the U.S. should shape and be shaped by the world. End the wars. Focus on our enemies.
By the time it was a choice between him and McCain the contest was all but over.
Except for Palin.
McCain's VP pick was the key that unlocked the unhinged from their burrows. Ignorant, mean, pious, photogenic, and willing to attack, Palin was the champion of the hard right. And when we on the left went campaigning for hope, the hard right went to war. Almost simultaneously, as a tactic, Republicans embraced the intolerant seeds of their near history and rebranded themselves by furnishing their constituency with a new lexicon, embedding a few minorities, and (later) boldly working towards voter suppression. New words to shape and describe this Black man without donning the traditional hard right penchant for racism...and hoods.
First there was Jim Crow. Then The Southern Strategy. Now Softklanning. The latter is a term for using seemingly innocuous words and phrases as verbal race bludgeons. This new language saddled Obama with words like "un-American," "radical," "Muslim" (as a slur), and "terrorist." Later the vocabulary would be fine-tuned. By 2012, the nuances were better but the sentiment the same. You can watch this evolution in two videos here.
In the first one, done by Al Jazeera at a Palin rally in Ohio, Obama's faith is questioned as well as an old school "nigra" (which is a mix twixt Negro and... well you can work it out) thrown about. But overwhelmingly, the word "socialist" is freely bounced like a dirty beach ball. Come 2012, after Bin Laden is dead, they promote more managed conspiratorial ideas at the Romney rally.
Socialist. My egg-headed lefty friends would frustratingly tout the great American Socialist movement and list all the things it accomplished, and then say, "See! What they are screaming isn't what it means!"
Of course not. It wasn't reintroduced to mean that. It was meant to mean something else. Something darker. Uglier. Hateful. But it can be screamed out in the open. Loudly and with the type of vitriolic relish historically reserved for mobs screaming at Freedom Riders ... or a little Ruby Bridges on her way to school flanked by U.S. Marshals. It was through the right wing political machine, pundits, and media that words like "socialist" and "Kenyan" became a smear. The Republicans found a way to reassemble bigotry in the art of inserting a new a lexicon.
Whistlin' and Walkin' By
What about the Blacks in the party? What happened when they saw these Ohio vids or were actually at hard right rallies hearing hate? What did they do?
And for that matter, anywhere near the deep South and, during a hard right meet-up, a Confederate Jack was gonna get waved in a way that's, well, not about them. What do Black Republicans do when that happens? Do they look somewhere else? Where do they stand? What do they do with their hands?
What do they do when they find themselves standing next to the antebellum yearnin' sons of the South? And speaking of Son of the South...
Herman Cain called for a more conservative third party.
Now, to be fair, Cain's opinion in the ranks of Republican power has about as much weight as the guy in the mascot costume has with the head football coach. These days, after signing a radio deal, he seems to not understand that his embarrassing run was a parlor trick. It was clear back then when he introduced and defended the economically incomprehensible 999 plan. And he must have known it when, after mumbling about Libya, he uttered one of the most ridiculously ignorant wanna-be slogans in American politics: "We need a leader not a reader."
In the meantime the real power structure of the Republican Party is getting clawed to death by its professional pundits who frantically burrow for a psychological trap door to escape reality while dragging their supporters behind them.
Honestly, the only thing worse than Cain's plans are the tropes of Brown inclusion crashing around the conservosphere as if all Republicans have to do is open the doors of "freedom" and Latinos, after leaning in heavily with baited breath on the glass of the American Dream, will come rushing in. Except Latinos reached their power years ago and, as evidenced on election night, have apparently walked right past the Republican's Hard Right boutique. It's not about color, but policy.
The correction could've started with immigration but the same ol' same ol' ideas of intolerance dragged from the primaries nixed that. And trying to act like there was a revelation over election night won't fool many. 'Specially with stuff like this:
Rush Limbaugh, on Nov. 7, 2012:
"Clarence Thomas. Herman Cain. None of it counts. Don't tell me the Republican Party doesn't have outreach. We do, but what're we supposed to do now... in order to get the Hispanic or Latino vote? Does that mean that we open the borders and embrace the illegals?"
Wow. Cain is a guy who wants to be called "Black Walnut" as if his favorite discontinued ice cream choice was really an epithet he overheard and was trying to emotionally vacate it from his head by jokifying it. Thomas is the poster child for Affirmative Action, but has done his best to keep others from benefiting from it. In the end, both are political "doormen" for Blacks. People who are let in the room to do one of three things:
1) Be the model of the "up from their own bootstraps" mythology
2) Give evidence, by their presence, that highly racial tones aren't racial
3) Keep other Blacks out
Secondly, when speaking in vitriolic terms of immigrants (read Latinos) to second or third generation Americans, Rush is talking about their fathers and grandmothers. Men and women in their lives with whom they've had loving relationships. Knee bouncing, birthday parties, baseball games. When he says "illegals" with a sneer it never dawns on him how foreign the name "Limbaugh" sounds coming from the mouth of someone who knows the history of Alta California and the importance of Black folk in that history.
The Fake Out
After laughing about how he had to go to Guam to reign in delegates for his RNC run, Rachel Maddow rehabilitated Michael Steele's political bona fides right in front of my eyes. Steele, the head of the RNC, had to bow down to Rush Limbaugh after correctly calling him an "entertainer." That's it. Not "bigoted troglodyte." Not "hate-spewing drug head." Nope, Steele called Rush Limbaugh Johnny Carson and had to beg for forgiveness. Later he literally became a punch line in America. Thus Maddow's build-up was a last big shake-off of hard right dust from attacks on his tenure so he could sit down in a "contributing analyst" MSNBC chair without tracking in mud.
It gets deeper though. On Up With Chris Hayes, after discussing the general lack of Blacks at the Republican Convention and how, in Limbaugh-like fashion, token Blacks and Latinos were wheeled out to give the appearance of diversity, Michael Steele handed the Republicans directives as if they gave a damn what he says. Making calls for more diversity like he said he tried when he was RNC chair, he ended with this:
"They're not running me out of this party because they don't like me. Deal with me, baby, because I'm not going anywhere..."
Hold on. So no matter what they do, you're not going anywhere? After the racist signs and Photoshop memes? After the effigy lynchings and watermelon props? The "Here's an African Lion and here's a Lying African" jokes? The extraordinary constant call for "proof" of qualifications to govern? The Birtherism and school record demands? The Trump and Nugent outbursts? The nobility of Kenyan anti-colonialism turned into a slur? Calling the first lady a Wookie?
This all has been the "red meat" of the Republican Party. Softklanning attacks that are zeroed in on Obama's color (and, by default, Steele's and mine also) and heritage while debating policy issues with conspiracy theories.
And speaking of conspiracies, here's where it all comes together. Right here ... at the attempt of voter suppression. Since that's an entire separate blog itself, let me just ask this: Why is it so important to stay in a party that, in this modern day, would work towards, fund, and conspire to suppress the voting rights of Americans? I disagree with 124 percent of the Tea Baggers' agenda but they have a right to vote. And this wasn't just a stupid, outlying group but a massive multi-state coordination almost criminal in its anti-American intent. Something which required more of Republican Blacks than being merely upset. It was a walkable offense.
These Black people wrapped themselves in thick flags everyday. They transposed the legacy of conservative intolerance onto liberals who finally checked them for selling out, or pandering, or for the worst offense of all: Seeing a foundation of dehumanization being used for attacks on other minorities and... doing nothing.
No, if we, Asian, Black, Brown, Red and White, are to survive this new America, I would suggest that any people of color ignore the Michael Steele clarion call to join up with Republicans just to increase their rolls. 2014 is coming up, if they are serious they'll begin to put real money up behind moderates and take it from the "no" people. Otherwise, if need be, forge new alliances. Maybe a new party. Maybe even a new labor movement to reclaim the salary levels lost over three decades. These days... you have the power. You are the power. So why give the keys to someone Michael Steele serves when you're now in the driver's seat?