racism and republicans

Blumenthal's book

I’ve been thinking for the last week or, I guess, ever since the ‘joe wilson’ incident about racism in America, and whether or not it is driving to some extent, the opposition to Obama.  There have been several popular op-eds this week about this very question including Maureen Dowd’s last Sunday and David Brook’s, from yesterday, though I am proud to say I was thinking about it *even* before the mainstream media started talking about it and before Jimmy Carter made his comments about it. (I say this only because i worry about how my overzealous consumption of the NYtimes and NPR may be influencing my ability to have orginal thoughts)

Brooks’s whole thesis seems to lie in the fact that he saw with his *own eyes*, tea-party conservative protesters MINGLING with black people during the protests last week (somehow David Brooks, black people and tea-partiers all bumped into each other at a barbecue on the fringes of the protest? i don’t know, you’ll have to read it). The point is, Brooks  thinks it’s not about racism, that it’s about populism and this old debate between federalists and anti federalists. I  think that for most moderate conservatives, like Brooks, it is about that. I think people are scared that government is growing too large and I think there’s something to that argument. Though, there’s an argument to be made that our government extended its powers further into our lives and extended it’s spending further into the world than it ever had, under Bush, and you didn’t hear that much outcry from anti big govt folks then.. BUT, yes, i do think some people are legitimately afraid that we are creeping closer to socialism, even if I will never understand why socialism sounds SO bad to people.

The best media I injested this week about conservatism and racisim and crazy republicans was on Fresh Air where,  investigative reporter Max Blumenthal correctly noted during his interview with Terry Gross, that lot of the people who are really mobilized against Obama, the most radical ones, the ones at the tea-party protests etc.. A lot of them don’t actually understand the difference between Socialism, Communism and Facisim, (they call Obama all three at once, not to mention a terrorist and a Muslim)  Thus, I  doubt their argument is even as sophisticated as a sort of federalist vs anti federalist one. That said, I think it’s probably more complicated and less conscious than plain-old racism or white supremacy. I  think it comes down to religious brain washing, feeling threatened and good old fashioned ignorance. But I do think racism plays a part.  In any case, it’s frightening. 

Of all the various links i just posted, definitely check out that Fresh Air with Max Blumenthal. It’s really enlightening. And maybe we could think about reading his book,  Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party.

3 Responses to “racism and republicans”

  1. 1 Some Thoughts
    September 20, 2009 at 4:10 am

    I think it is a tough time for America. There is nothing in the constitution that requires a two party system and yet we are trying to group America with its numerous factions into two parties. People often fly under a party or candidate when they do not support all of their policies. There were many conservatives who were not thrilled with John McCain or Sarah Palin in the 2008 elections. John McCain’s policies included large federal funding for Health care benefits, failed mortgages and other programs. Gov. Mike Huckabee talked about federal money as if he were a six year old with his parents money in a candy shop, hoping to expand the space program, fight two wars and solve all the country’s problems while reducing taxes. Impossible and farcical. President Obama is a clever rhetorician who may not lie, but often misleads the public. He says the healthcare bill will not provide coverage of illegal immigrants but Democrats have twice shot down in committee Republican requests to include legal documentation as a requirement for care. The fact of the matter is we cannot afford the amount of government spending now. This overhaul of our healthcare system along with two massive wars and many other programs such as social security, medicaid, and the massive stimulus bill cost money. The question is who will pay? There is a bipartisan documentary called I.O.U.S.A which breaks down our country’s current economic situation in laymen terms, the situation is serious. Right now money from your paycheck is going into social security and at our country’s current pace, you will not see a dime. I think people have real beef with policy making in Washington, no matter who is in power. I believe Republicans have their share fiscal irresponsibility. Politicians care more about getting re-elected than spending peoples tax dollars responsibly. I believe this often leads to pork barrel spending to coddle constituents. The bridge to nowhere etc..

    With regards to the racism question, I think the media often looks for a thrilling story and therefore covers the crazies rather than the citizens with reasonable objections, because they disagree with say the role of government in a persons lives on fundamental principles. Sometimes I wonder if it protects them from actually having to think about the arguments of the other side. It is easier to dismiss those on the right as brainwashed religious types than engage them. The video you posted highlighted some of the more “interesting” characters at the tea party march. I get it, it makes a good story. However, it can also allow one to dismiss the ideas and concerns of the opposition. It can lead one to say, those who oppose the President must be racist, crazy and ignorant. I am not sure that is constructive dialogue, it can coerce rational objectors to remain silent out of fear of being labeled a racist. I don’t think that is ever good for America.

  2. 2 katie
    September 21, 2009 at 1:28 am

    thanks for your really thoughtful comments. i agree actually, that shouting racism is potentially a dangerous way of silencing a debate. i guess i’m not clear on what to do then, if i actually believe racism is playing a role. i hadn’t thought before recently that it was playing a significant role, but add up the “birthers”, the people who still believe obama is a muslim, the blatant show of disrespect by a republican congressmen (who’s other accomplishments include fighting to keep the confederate flag flying in south carolina), and it starts to feel that way.

    you sound like you’re a republican. you also sound like you’re a reasonable, good hearted person – do you agree with the stuff that glenn beck, rush limbaugh and others are saying to insight anger in their followers? if not, why aren’t more republicans taking a stand to distance themselves from those guys? If they were, maybe we’d see them and their followers for what they should be, (radicals on the fringe who have little influence). instead, they seem like a formidable presence which has control over the republican party and has earned a right to be heard and covered in the mainstream media.

    i don’t find it hard to understand why people would criticize obama and oppose his policies. indeed, i am critical of him and feel let down by some of his choices. but I do find it hard to understand what is driving the extreme rage we are seeing from the right. obama has been in office for less than a year, after all, and he was left with an incredibly immense set of problems from the previous administration.

    as far as who will pay for everything.. i agree, it is scary how much we are spending and it is still unclear how we will pay for it. But how will we pay for the current health care system? and where was the outcry about spending as we spent billions on the iraq war? where was the anti-big government outcry as george bush expanded the powers of government? i find it strange, that the war inspired no outrage on the right but health care really gets them pounding the pavement.

    there is plenty of bipartisan information showing that other developed countries (all of them, actually) are spending vastly less money than we are while providing more health care to more people. why are americans SO hesitant to say, yeah, let’s learn from what Canada is doing, or what France is doing? It’s like if all of your neighbors were using this amazing new type of lawn mower while you’re just convinced your old crappy one is still the best. why can’t we just say, you know, we tried a capitalist system for health care for many, many years and it’s clearly not working since millions of people can’t afford coverage , so let’s try something new.

    again, thanks for your comment, i really welcome the discussion. it’s good to hear from someone who doesn’t necessarily agree with what i post here.

  3. 3 Some Thoughts
    September 22, 2009 at 12:52 am

    You brought up a lot of different points and I definitely don’t have all the answers and I can’t speak for the uncharitable ways in which other Republicans speak. I think that rage and disrespect are found on both sides. The “he said, she said” debate would be a long drawn out dance off of examples.

    What I think I can comment on is your statement about Canada and France as shining stars of socialized healthcare and social democracy as a whole. Taking your lawn mower analogy a step further, I think the U.S. has the best mower with all the bells and whistles, but it costs more and not everyone can afford it. The canadian model is available to everyone, but it kind breaks down a lot and can take forever to get. You asked why can they spend less than us? I think there are many different factors. I think it costs less because the quality of care is less. They have less specialists, less equipment (the MRI scan wait lists can be long) and hospitals are less likely to adapt quickly to new technology and procedures because it is a government run institution.

    Another factor is that such a large Government where a majority of the tax revenue gets poured into healthcare cannot sustain itself with birthrates below replacement level. What that means is there will not be enough tax payers to create enough revenue to support the government programs like the Healthcare system and social security. As the demographics continue to shift in Europe, Russia and Canada, we will see a greater number of in the 65-80 than say the 18-35. That means more people taking from the pot than putting in. You need people to sustain the system.

    Another thing worth mentioning: The Unites States assumes a lot of the defense costs of its allies. Our military is strong, our technology is superior and our allies, especially Canada benefit from that. I think that allows our allies to use their tax revenue on other programs like healthcare.

    Just one more thing, Don’t you think some Americans have a problem with setting priorities straight? A lot of people say they can not afford health insurance especially young professional types, but yet they have cable TV, buy cigarettes, and have a cell phone. There are those who are truly suffering from poverty and those who are suffering the ill effects of our materialistic society that says stuff and more stuff will make you happy.

    I think the current system has its flaws, and more charitable work in the private sector ought to be done to help those in need but placing the responsibility in the hands of the federal government, in my opinion is not the answer. It has already proved irresponsible in so many other areas.

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