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Anyone who watched the two national political conventions last month couldn’t help but be impressed with the nearly total lack of racial diversity at the (“White’s Only”) Republican National Convention. The large number of racially-diverse delegates at the Democratic National Convention was truly impressive. It should be obvious that white racism will be a huge factor in this November’s elections.
Oh, I admit that there were a few token blacks and Latinos on the Tampa convention center stage from time to time and a proportionally far smaller percentage of non-whites in the audience; but the TV cameras, probably under the direction of the RNC itself, often focused on those few, trying to give the impression that the GOP’s “Big Tent” was something other than a total fallacy.
The “Big Tent” political bluffs of the GOP came after the so-called “Southern Strategy” of the Nixon and Goldwater years made use of racist southern Democratic Party disgruntlement over desegregation and federal Civil Rights legislation. Republicans correctly theorized that most southern Democrats could be induced to switch their political allegiance to the GOP. It worked, in spades and the anti-racist, anti-segregationist Hubert Humphrey lost the 1968 election.
Trotting out the “Big Tent” idea in later presidential campaigns gave undiscerning voters the false impression that Ultraconservative Republicans had finally forgiven Franklin Delano Roosevelt for becoming a traitor to their class by promoting social security legislation, unemployment relief and otherwise helping the working class and the poor survive the Great Depression. The GOP still wants everybody to believe that these wannabe imitators of classic European fascism have suddenly become more humane in their politics and theology, never mind that it is still the party of the filthy rich predator class that indiscriminately exploits, for its own profit, the planet and the working class.
Republicans also want us to forget that it is their party that voted against child labor laws, the right for workers to collectively bargain, living wages for workers and women’s rights. The GOP also wants us to forget that it vigorously opposed the 8-hour work day, desegregation of the schools, women’s suffrage and the right for blacks to even register to vote.
But most of all, the GOP’s far right-wing (is there even a moderate, center-right wing GOP anymore?) wants us to forget about its traditional (aka “conservative”) southern “state’s rights” legacy (“state’s rights” is a code word for the ex-confederate states’ desire to return to their tradition of legalized slavery, segregation and racism, all kept alive and well by the frequent reviving of the desire for revenge [against the liberal Northern states] over the South’s humiliating defeat in the American Civil War). Many “Johnny Rebs”, the true believers in the institution of slavery in the South, have been hankering for a rematch of that war for the last 150 years. Perhaps the current attempts at a right-wing coup d’etat in America is the latest incarnation of that desire to get revenge for the war that was supposed to have ended in 1865.
So the GOP’s “Big Tent” fallacy is revived from time to time to try to convince some of the dying breed of moderate Republicans, Libertarians and independents (or wavering Democrats who feel betrayed by their increasingly conservative-leaning party) to think that Republicans are capable of hope and change. There was no sign of the Big Tent at the 2012 GOP convention.
If there is such a thing as
a GOP “Big Tent”, who
are those inside of it?
Mitt Romney’s embarrassing, albeit truth-telling gaffe at the private $50,000 a plate dinner party that was attended by a handful of wealthy “One Percenter” Floridians may have, if there is any justice in this world, cost him the election. Romney’s wealthiest financial supporters are actually “investors”, and are not “donors”, who are those who don’t expect a return on their “investment”. Mitt’s statements revealed that that group of billionaires, including Mitt, regard themselves as elites that, because of their hereditary privilege, think that they have a divine right to rule without the need to campaign for the job of ruler, fuhrer, king or dictator.
One might ask: who are the “untermenschen” that represent the 47% who would never vote for the likes of the elite One Percenters who were in that room? Romney would say it is the ones who need to “go find a job” (in an economy he helped to destroy), but who are, in reality, the ones whose jobs were cruelly out-sourced by businessmen like them, who, incidentally, are “very successful at what they do”. Romney and others of his ilk are expert predatory vulture capitalists who “like to fire people”, destroying their ex-employee’s lives, livelihood and home mortgages by very profitably moving their jobs overseas (thank you very much Anne Romney, for pointing that out in your RNC speech).
Romney thinks he knows who are the 47% who will never (or at least shouldn’t) vote for him, so it should be fair to ask “who are the ones under the GOP tent who would never vote for President Obama?” It turns out that many patriotic Americans wouldn’t want to be associated with most of them, and thus, logically, that group actually represents a pretty “Small Tent”.
At the top of any list of those who would never vote for our current black president (or anybody else whose politics are to the left of any center-right Democrat, Independent or even any moderate Republican) are the hereditary or congenital racists, who have never gotten over the abolition of slavery and the infringement of their “state’s rights” (to enslave or discriminate against whomever they want).
That group of vehement Obama- and Martin Luther King-haters would include the White Citizen’s Councils, the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Nation (and all the numerous other hate groups and militia groups), the Old Moneyed Rich of the Deep South that profited mightily from slavery, the white Chambers of Commerce in the Red States, the members of the white Southern Baptist Convention (and other conservative Calvinist Protestant denominations), the white’s only military academies of the South, the ones that continue to proudly fly the Confederate flag, the ones that cheered the assassinations of JFK, MLK, RFK and Paul Wellstone, and the ones that, at a rate of dozens per day, continue to threaten the life of Barak Obama. I don’t want to be associated with that group.
“Clarence, we don’t care
what it says in the bible,
we just don’t want no
niggers in this church”
The unspoken theme (and silent mantra) and the motivation behind the voting tendencies of most of those in the GOP “Tent” was openly and uncharacteristically expressed - and very succinctly phrased - a couple of generations ago in a little white Southern Baptist church in Americus, Georgia, where fascist politics ran rampant, where arbitrary, extra-judicial lynchings of blacks took place frequently but were never investigated by the white cops. I told that classic story of Southern racism a couple of months ago in a Reader column that I titled, “Koinonia Farm and Clarence Jordan.”
Koinonia Farm, located near Americus, Georgia, was the first racially integrated communal farm in what could legitimately be called Nazi America. Clarence Jordan, the person who started the progressive Christian, faith-based farm and guided its early years was the foremost practitioner and theorist of Christian nonviolence in the nation. Jordan’s aim was to have the workers live out the nonviolent teachings of Jesus, who preached and lived the unconditional love of friends and enemies and whose spirit was present with Koinonia and also later with the martyred Martin Luther King at the peak of his gospel-based, nonviolent civil rights and antiwar activism.
Here is the pertinent excerpt from that column:
“The superintendent of the Americus school district succinctly summarized the rationale for the traditional Southern pro-slavery/segregationist culture and its ruthless exploitation of blacks when he said: ‘Niggers do our work for us around here and if we educate them they will all move away - so I don’t intend seeing them educated.’
“The violence that was intended to drive these Koinonia “nigger-lovers” out of Sumter County was not resisted or condemned by any of the Baptist churches in the area, including the Rehoboth Baptist Church of Americus, to which Clarence and five other Koinonians belonged - and from which they were soon to be excommunicated.
“According to one account of the excommunication story, Jordan had been called into an emergency Sunday afternoon meeting of the church’s board of deacons after one of Koinonia’s members had brought an Asian Indian, a Hindu and a non-white, to a worship service. To the leaders of the church, inviting a non-white to church was apparently an excommunicable offense, in the same category as murder, rape and apostasy.
“Standing before the seven elders of the church, Jordan decided to use, as part of his defense against being driven out of his church, a theological approach. So, knowing his New Testament by heart and knowing that his colleagues had done nothing wrong, he asked the deacons to find in the Bible the offense that they were guilty of.
“Some of the seven deacons disinterestedly paged through the book, some simply passed it on to the next man without opening it. It seemed obvious to Clarence that none of these lay leaders had done much serious bible study. And none of them came up with anything that the members were guilty of. Finally, the seventh deacon took the bible, slammed it shut and said. ‘Clarence, we don’t care what it says in the bible, we just don’t want no niggers in this church!’”
And that, to me, summarizes the twisted rationale for the white-hot hatred that the Republicans have for President Obama and, incidentally, why they invented contempt of Congress charges (later quietly dismissed) against Eric Holder, the first black US Attorney General. Republicans are saying, “We don’t want no niggers in the White House or the Justice Department.” That is the unspoken, mantra that guides the politics. Many Republican voters seem to despise highly intelligent, competent, sincere, open-minded people of any stripe, especially if Rush Limbaugh says they should.
That GOP’s quasi-racist stance holds also for the hatred they expressed for Bill Clinton, whose multi-cultural beliefs led to some calling him the “first black president.” “We don’t want no nigger-lovers in the Oval Office” seems to have been the major unspoken motivation for their opposition to Clinton. Likewise for their undisguised hatred for Hillary. “We don’t want no uppity, intellectual, competent, progressive-minded feminists in the Senate or the State Department or the Oval Office.”
And the fact that gays and lesbians have proven that they are highly intelligent, ethical, talented and competent in many things creates the hidden mantra “We don’t want no gays in the family, in the military or in the House or Senate.”
Nobody wants to be proven wrong about anything and Republicans and white Southerners are no exceptions. Their traditional beliefs in white supremacy, male-dominance and xenophobic, heterosexist positions are hard to support in a rational universe. It could be regarded as a humiliation to have Americans suddenly realize that blacks, women and gays (and, historically, Jews, Italians, Irish, Polish, Finns, Catholics and Latinos have been discriminated against and ostracized by Republicans before them) can actually be superior to most people in law, science, ethics and overall intelligence. So the illogical defense against such truths is often “we’re just going to keep our heads in the sand and close-mindedly oppose the liberation of those minorities that we are irrationally afraid of.”
Trying to understand
the new right-wing radi
calism of Karl Rove’s and
Rush Limbaugh’s GOP
The planned GOP road-blocking of everything Obama wanted to do to fix the broken economy was articulated very early. The most fanatic of the far right must have had high-level strategy meetings, for the talking points for the vast right-wing conspiracy against Obama were coordinated perfectly.
Talking heads like the pathological liar Rush Limbaugh and his FoxNews counterparts Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and company all made it clear that the Obama agenda was to be de-railed, no matter what the issues were and no matter how much Americans and America was going to be hurt. If that sounds like treason to you, you may be right. Ditto for the 400 or more right-wing think tanks (like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute), every hard-right GOP politician you can think of (especially Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell and House Majority leader John Boehner), all the GOP presidential hopefuls and the hundreds of American Legislative Exchange Council-connected Republicans such as Tommy Thompson and Scott Walker who have been funded by billionaires like the odious Koch brothers.
All these secretive anti-democracy GOP politicians, their paymasters (who are the corporate elites and their lobbyists) and other assorted Big Business Billionaires pledged to do everything they could to make sure that Obama would be artificially crippled in his efforts to overcome the Cheney/Bush economic crash, the Cheney/Bush housing crash and the rapidly accumulating national debt brought on by the Cheney/Bush multi-trillion dollar wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And the Republican strategy to make Obama fail was easily accomplished. All the Republicans had to do was crank out the propaganda machine 24/7, create gridlock in the GOP-dominated House and repeatedly threaten to filibuster every Obama initiative in the Senate - all orchestrated so that the 2012 election could run on the “failures” of Obama.
The GOP can reliably count on the average American citizen’s memory failures of what happened during the past few political cycles. And I’m not giving the Democrats a free ride here. They have participated in their share of political chicanery, but a major problem in the US is that it does not have a well-informed citizenry (which, the Founding Fathers emphasized, is necessary for a democratic society to succeed).
Rather, America has a seriously dis-informed, mis-informed, basically historically-illiterate citizenry that is being cleverly duped by the wealthy, sociopathic ruling elites (with the 24/7 help of their bought-and-paid-for corporate media outlets) who want to privatize everything by buying or stealing the national and planetary resources for their private enrichment, leaving us 99 Percenters with increasing homelessness, joblessness, starvation and psych drug-induced apathy and emotional numbness, all the while amusing ourselves to death in front of our electronic screens – instead of going to the streets to protest the on-coming oppression that George Orwell’s “1984” foretold so well.
At the risk of appearing unfairly partisan, I submit the following item that I ran across on Wikipedia that seems to have something pertinent to say about Mitt Romney’s floundering presidential campaign. The two excerpts were about Mitt Romney’s multi-millionaire father George, who also stumbled frequently during his run for president against Nixon in 1967 (while his latter-born son Mitt was spending time in France proselytizing for the Mormon religion):
“Presidential historian Theodore H. White wrote that during the campaign Romney gave ‘the impression of an honest and decent man simply not cut out to be President of the United States.’
“Governor Jim Rhodes of Ohio more memorably said, ‘Watching Romney run for the presidency was like watching a duck try to make love to a football.’”
Finally, it should be noted that many Fundamentalist Christians have long regarded Mormonism as a non-Christian cult and that Mormons are headed for hell. During the Republican primaries, many right-wing Christian leaders supported “Anybody but Mitt” and actually articulated hatred toward Romney and Mormonism – that is, until the Mormon looked like he was going to win the nomination. Only then did the hypocritical Christian Right flip-flop and start supporting Romney. What they obviously were thinking is this: “We don’t want no niggers or Mormons in the White House, even if Obama is a professed Christian and the Mormon says Mormonism is a branch of Christianity. But if we have to make a choice we would rather elect a member of the headed-for-hell Mormon cult. And besides, having a hard right-wing Ayn Rand-admiring Libertarian Catholic as VP is a nice bonus, in case something awful happens to Mitt.”
My advice to Romney: to the hard right, you are still regarded as a hated and very mistrusted liberal. So don’t trust the hard right that is surrounding you, and if, heaven forbid, you somehow win the presidency, be extra careful who you choose for your Secret Service detail, not to mention your airplane pilots.
And don’t let any Apocalyptic Fundamentalist Christian who might be trying to hasten Armageddon anywhere near the Red Button in the Oval Office.
Dr. Kohls writes about a variety of topics, including politics, religion, white racism, fascism, mental health, nutrition, war and peace and despises the use of racial epithets especially the use of the “n” word. He apologizes to anyone who might be offended by its use in the occasional quotes above, but felt the column’s points would have been weakened without its use.