The panic whipped up by the McCain campaign in PA sounds horrific because of the ugliness and hate that it pours into the election, but the real threat it poses is to our ability to get things done. If John McCain were to win the election by kicking up enough anti-Muslim, anti-African-American, anti-Liberal, conspiracy theory rage--he would have transformed the country into utter chaos in the process. Such a campaign--if victorious--would push our civic culture beyond the point where it was able to recover and function. And under such conditions, McCain would ultimately preside over a nation capable of little more than pitchforks and torches.
More and more it seems that John McCain has bet the farm on winning Pennsylvania by turning the race as ugly as possible, which means abandoning all pretense of healthy civic exchange. The results are disquieting. In recent days, a Republican group circulated an email claiming that a vote for Obama was tantamount to enabling the rise of Hitler and would lead to a 'second Holocaust.' Can it get worse than that? Apparently, it can. At a rally in Pottsville, McCain supporters gather in a threatening mob shouting 'Terrorist!' 'Communist!' 'Child Killer!' and openly call for the death of Sen. McCain's opponent. As high profile Republicans endorse Obama and reject the politics of bigotry and violence, McCain continues to stoke the rage in Pennsylvania in some vain hope that the destruction of democratic culture in one state will win him the chance to lead the country.
(video credit: www.keystoneprogress.org)
Everybody should watch this video. As disturbing as it is to see McCain supporters in Pennsylvania shout horrific and violent epithets about Sen. Obama, the sad reality is that videos shot at McCain rallies have become the key political symbols of the 2008 political race.
Either one walks away from watching these videos disgusted, or one walks away believing the voices of those shouting. The middle ground has vanished.
As the 2008 race winds down, McCain's cynical campaign in Pennsylvania and other close states has succeeded in undermining any semblance of debate over real problems in America. In shouting violent epithets, the McCain supporters in Pottsville have abandoned any interest in real problems, choosing instead to tilt at windmills. Is America in real danger of a Manchurian candidate seizing hold of the White House by hiding his true identity from billions of people the world over for decades? Sadly, that is not even the real question that concerns the country. What we should all be asking is: Can we afford to waste even one more second on useless bigotry and fear that does nothing but prevent us from working together to solve real problems?
The answer is a resounding: No!
Imagine what it would mean for the United States and the world if the mob politics of McCain's campaign were to dominate the next 8 years. It would ruin this country--destroy it every level.
A victory for McCain delivered by an enraged campaign mob would shatter any and all possibility for deliberative democracy. Democratic government based on conversation would give way to rule by mobilizing panic. If victory comes at the hands of rage and panic, governing by the same is quick to follow.
What a world it would be. A world completely devoid of solutions to any of the problems we face. A world without healthcare. A world without retirement security. A world without effective education. A world without renewable energy. A world not fueled by optimism and American pragmatism, but by constant, never ending alarm.
The McCain campaign panic Americans see in Pennsylvania is more than just a window onto an ugly side of American life. It is a warning.
© 2008 Jeffrey Feldman, Frameshop