“Traitor!” “Kill Him!” “Bomb Obama!” “Obama Bin Lyin!”
These are the words one can hear from the crowds
at the McCain-Palin rallies. Through race baiting and inflammatory
xenophobic, anti-Muslim and anti-Obama rhetoric, the GOP presidential
and vice-presidential candidates, and their surrogates, have whipped
their supporters into such a frenzy, one can only include that they
hope physical harm befalls their Democratic opponent. Truth be
told, the assassination of Black leaders is not a new story in America.
It is no accident that Senator Obama had to receive super duper
Secret Service protection earlier than any other presidential candidate.
And it should be noted that a group of White supremacists planned
to assassinate Obama during the Democratic convention in Colorado.
Senator McCain was offended and outraged when Rep.
John Lewis of Georgia compared McCain’s incendiary tactics to that
of the late Alabama segregationist George Wallace. I conclude that
had McCain’s race baiting succeeded, he would have found a way to
get over his anger. After all, when you purposefully stoke the
fires of hatred, you should expect that someone will call you out
on it. Rather, it is likelier that the Manchurian candidate’s sense
of indignation stems from the feeling that the time-tested Southern
Strategy—the Republican Party’s dutiful use of the race card to
scare the White electorate in national elections, with a bonus if
the other candidate is actually Black—was supposed to work as it
has always worked. It was supposed to work as it did eight years
ago, when operatives for then-candidate Bush (who now work for McCain),
smeared McCain in the South Carolina primary by claiming he had
fathered a Black child. But apparently, in 2008 it did not work
for McCain against Obama.
Stirring up disgruntled, frustrated and bitter White
folk over fears of a Black planet, the Republicans borrowed their
strategy from the segregationist Dixiecrats of the Jim Crow South.
Back then, racist politicians, members of the White Citizens’ Council,
the “white-collar” Klan, spewed invective when it came to verbal
attacks on African Americans. While keeping their hands clean of
any wrongdoing, these politicians stirred up the “unwashed masses,”
their poorer, uneducated Klan brethren, who could be then counted
on to respond to that rhetoric through assassinations and lynchings
of civil rights workers, the bombing of Black churches, and other
acts of physical violence and domestic terrorism. It was understood
that the words of the politicians went hand in hand with the murderous
crimes of the foot soldiers, cause and effect.
As for today’s ideological descendants of the Dixiecrats,
the conservative Republicans, racism and inciting racial violence
have won them elections. And given this crowd’s emphasis on killing
to meet public policy and foreign policy objectives— whether through
the second amendment, unjust wars, coups or assassinations— I wouldn’t
put anything past them.
And color-coded character assassination is all you
have left when you are a party bereft of any ideas and vision short
of war profiteering, trickle-down economics, corporate welfare and
tax cuts for the wealthy. And the self-proclaimed mavericks who
would mis-lead this nation have been operating on smoke and mirrors.
At the top of the ticket is a man whose only claim to fame was being
in a country where he had no business, fighting people who meant
him no harm (sounds familiar), then getting captured and refusing
to leave when the “enemy” told him he could go. His running mate,
Gov. Sarah Palin, was sly and vindictive enough to unlawfully abuse
her authority as governor of Alaska, and is dumb as bricks on any
matter of domestic or foreign affairs. Palin—who has used hate
speech to stir up crowds across the country, causing them to boo
Obama in absentia—came into the national spotlight at the Republican
convention by quoting an anti-Semite who had hoped for the assassination of President
In past years, the race card might very well have
worked even for this pair of untalented, mediocre individuals.
Perhaps it is too early to write their political obituary, although
many commentators across the political spectrum have already done
so. And the fact that their campaign is fighting for dear life
in bright-red Bush country may provide all the proof we need that
it is done, time to stick a fork in it. Nevertheless, it appears
that McPalin is a casualty of the changing times, changing demographics,
an economic collapse, the youth vote, and an opponent who has excited
a multiracial electorate like no other politician in generations.
Has the Southern Strategy already made its last stand? Time will
Meanwhile, Palin now has had the tables turned on
her. This self-described “hockey mom” was booed while throwing
out the puck at the opening game of the Philadelphia Flyers. Philly
is Obama territory, to be sure, but the hockey fans? They were
supposed to be her people, or so she thought. But even having her
two daughters there could not save her. Perhaps some people are
determined that they will not be fooled again, that the cost is
simply too high for any of us to bear.
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member David A. Love, JD is a lawyer
and journalist based in Philadelphia, and a contributor to the Progressive Media Project,
McClatchy-Tribune News Service,
In These Times and Philadelphia Independent Media Center. He contributed to the book, States of Confinement: Policing,
Detention, and Prisons (St. Martin's Press, 2000). Love is a former Amnesty
International UK spokesperson, organized the first national police
brutality conference as a staff member with the Center for Constitutional
Rights, and served as a law clerk to two Black federal judges.
His blog is davidalove.com. Click here to contact Mr. Love.