It just might be that when the history of the current era is writ, the most interesting aspect will focus on how this country reached a point where it simultaneously rose to fulfill its highest democratic potential while exposing its basest and most destructive tendencies.
The election of a black man to the land's highest office, indeed to perhaps the most powerful position in the world, has hastened a kind of cultural mitosis, a cleaving of the body politic of the United States, forcing people to one side or the other. Inasmuch as the two elections of Obama are examples of how far the nation has come, they have also forced its darkest and most violent tendencies out of the shadows and into stark view.
The opposition to All Things Obama has become less and less artful as a result of the rising outrage in those who could never stomach a black man as president of the United States, let alone in any position of power. The preternatural intensity observed in its every gesture, whether made by far-right ideologues like the so-called Tea Partiers who have polluted the political process with an obviousness that would have made Lee Atwater wince, or by a corporate-owned media which, lacking creative ability the way a low order of animal lacks the cones and rods to see anything other than shapes and contrast and therefore extrapolates an entire universe based on those limitations, dines off conflict and chaos, the easiest things to create, requiring only a toss of a match or the shoving of a crowbar through the spokes of a spinning wheel.
So it has been from day one with The Obama Era. Time and again, the profound repulsion his very presence in the societal psyche (as perceived by his most fervent detractors) has caused speaks to the unresolved, latent, self-destructive tendencies that all bullies, racists, homophobes, class warriors, science deniers and other rabid ideologues--in other words, the very people who proudly identify as Conservatives and Republicans and whose divisive voices lead the charge to restore antebellum values which a nation (and a world) found as repugnant in 1865 as those Neo-Confederates find our duly elected president and all he espouses in 2013.
And the dropping of the pretense that their opposition has anything other to do with their racism has revealed a widespread complicity--a flocking instinct--in the media and across ideological lines. We all understand what the audience laughed knowingly at when Ted Cruz said he never wanted the government to shut down. But in the next moment that tell was forgotten. Or the anti-Obama screeds by partisan journalists using racist dog whistles that supplement and otherwise drive home the real point they are conveying rather than relying upon their assemblage of questionable facts, as in all the assertions that President Obama is alternately a fascist, a socialist, a Kenyan, an illuminati, a pal of terrorists---and oh, by the way, that Obamacare is as evil as slavery. The effort it would take to contest all of it by that rarest of species--The Levelheaded Conservative--has proven too much, ironically demonstrating that they are the truly lazy loafers leading this country to ruin, and not those poor, elderly and infirm who are the regular targets of their systemic wroth.
And now that flocking instinct is being demonstrated by Democrats panicked by the glitchy implementation of the ACA, further proving how much effort it takes to resist the gravitational pull of the self-serving, paranoid, destructive thought that has all but ruined the Republican brand and become its signature.
The cultural, political and ideological divisions have not been this clear since the war between the states. Stripped of artifice, these divisions ultimately take on less of a political significance and more of a psychological one. When the history of this era in American history is writ, surely it will recognize what lay at the core of the divisions--pathological racism. To call it anything else would be a very hard cell indeed.