08/20/2012 07:15 pm ET Updated Oct 20, 2012

Chains and Oaths

"Nothing succeeds like offense." Whether offending or pretending to be offended, that is how the Republican Party has framed politics for the last three decades -- or six, if you include Joe McCarthy.

Vice President Biden is precisely on the money (painful pun that it is) when he says of Republicans, "They will put y'all back in chains." Forget "y'all" (rhetorical, yes; racialist, no); it's "chains" that matters here. The genuinely outrageous public pronouncement is Romney's: "Unshackle Wall Street," as if it is Wall Street that is in chains.

To be generous, rhetoric of the current ("modern" doesn't apply) Republican Party is consistently overwrought. It frequently misrepresents and distorts. It is often disingenuous, dishonest, and abusive. It is cartoonish, with the cartoons displayed in funhouse mirrors. Increasingly, it appears deranged.

You remember Wall Street, the place whose denizens are overwhelmingly responsible for and continuing to profit from the worst economic disaster since (Republican) Herbert Hoover? Overstatement may come with politics. But it is not Vice President Biden who "drag[s] down the discourse," a term used far beyond Frank Beckmann's ridiculous rant in The Detroit News.

Those making wild claims that Joe Biden is "introducing race" into the presidential election would be laughable were their assertions not so deceitful. Race is America's original sin. Faux-offended Republicans who shamelessly exploit race and racism behind sham expressions of offense, uttered as if covered by dainty little fluttering fans, are the true offense. Let's call it "progress" that they are constrained by common decency from explicitly expressing America's entrenched racism in public.

Look at the history of the current Republican Party. After signing the Voting Rights Act of 1964, President Lyndon Johnson said, "I think we just delivered the South to the Republican party for a long time to come." In the presidential election that year, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina voted Republican for the first time since Reconstruction.

Ronald Reagan launched his successful 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Miss., known principally for the murders of three heroic civil rights workers. Barely disguised racism has been a major theme of the Republican Party. Is it coincidence that the red states are principally those of the old Confederacy and the Confederate diaspora?

The noise around "y'all" is just plain wrong. I've lived most of my life in the Deep South -- Alabama and Georgia, to be precise. Let me assure you that while "y'all" is most certainly a Southernism (and actually quite useful for distinguishing the second-person plural), it is used by almost everyone in the South. It's ethnicity-neutral, so move on. "Y'all" is as American as racism, but "y'all" is useful, whereas racism is not... unless you're appealing to the antediluvian racists of whom there are, still, entirely too many in America.

Make no mistake: What Vice President Biden articulated may not be polite, but he is describing precisely what the Republicant Party proposes do to us all -- again! -- "y'all" meaning the overwhelming majority of Americans ("you," plural): exploit the many to profit the few. This is not theory or rhetoric; this is historically based fact.

To be fair, Mr. Biden could have been more precise. I am unaware of any mainstream Republican Party proposal to return people to chains. Serfdom appears closer to what they're proposing. Let's call it "neo-serfdom," as the Republicans' economic and social proposals do not precisely fit the feudal description of serfdom. Or consider calling it "corporate serfdom."

The proposed Republican return to demonstrably failed economic policy should be roiling the public debate, not the plain-speak of Joe Biden. I reject the "Oath of Fealty"; I reject the oath of serfdom.