The things I fear

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


I've had this nagging thought for a few weeks now. I wanted to get it on e-paper, in the hopes that the loyal readers of this fine blog can allay my fears. The source of my fears are as follows;

Barack Obama is currently leading the race for President of the United States, and by a comfortable margin. Like any campaign in a similar situation, the McCain campaign is going to do what it feels necessary to win the race, which at this point means going negative. That need became greater after last night, when Obama (by most objective measures) won the second presidential debate.

Ordinarily, this would be fine. The leading candidate would get his name dragged through the mud for a while, the election would happen, and everyone would go about their lives. But this year is different. The candidate is black, and we've never done this before.

America has made great progress in the last 50 years. But in pockets of this country there remain bastions of hatred, intolerance, and racism. Most of them are in the South, but that isn't the only place where hatred exists. And as the attacks on Senator Obama become more focused, I fear that some will take away a dangerously misinterpreted message.

For the record, I don't for a second believe that John McCain is race-bating. But some of the comments from his camapign, and especially from Sarah Palin, have taken the tone of "he's not one of us". He pals around with terrorists. He attends a dangerous America-hating church. He sees America less favorably than you do. And it's already started to take hold. People at McCain (and Obama) rallies are shouting things that are initiating Secret Service investigations.

The three outcomes I fear from here are;

1)The attacks work. McCain manages to bring Obama back in the polls, and he defeats Obama on election day. Black society gets PISSED; in their opinon, they've seen their brightest light in a generation doused by tactics of fear. Bigots nationwide feel vindicated and validated, and another generation of politics is defined by divisive politics.

2) The attacks fail, and McCain is 6-8 points down approaching election day. Intimidation of black voters ramps up. Voters are harassed and assaulted by angry good ol' boys. Perhaps a homemade pipe-bomb blows up a polling place in Savannah. Race relations are set back a decade (probably to pre-LA Riot status). And if McCain somehow wins as a result? The nation would riot. Atlanta burns. New Orleans consumes itself again. Detroit loses any progress its made in the last 20 years.

3) Nightmare scenario. The spectre raised by Senator Clinton near the end of the primaries. A lone hate-filled man with a twisted sense of morality destroys the morale of a nation with a single shot. And that nation turns on itself with hatred, fear, and anger. I shudder to think.

In general, I am afraid that the genie that has been kept in a bottle will be released, and segments of America will cry havoc and let slip the dogs of racial war. Someone, please tell me I'm exaggerating.

14 comments:

Smitty 4:02 PM  

You sounds like my parents, alive during the racially-tense era of the 60s.

For my part? I always worry something will happen to him (Obama), but for that matter, every President has to worry about that, and I don't think Obama has to worry any more. Or less.

Pete 5:51 PM  

Where is option 4) Obama wins by a decent margin, humanity shows we're adults, and life goes on while we try and get out of this mess that seems to be happening lately?

Maybe I'm overly optimistic, blind to the obvious, or just sheltered in my mid-Michigan oasis. But I'd like to think that we've come far enough that none of those scenarios are likely. Of all the Obama bashing I've heard, actually none of it has been racially charged. And I know quite a few bigots, unfortunately.

steves 7:07 PM  

Pete raises a good point. I am just not all that worried at this point, but maybe I am being naive.

The attacks on him don't appear to be racially motivated. The "not one of us" seems to be playing on the elitist liberal. I am sure that there are racist nujobs out there, but they seem to be rare.

Sopor 8:30 PM  

Pete and I are very, physically speaking, close to each other. Were both from rural communities chock-FULL of bigotry!

But I'm with him on this one too. I'll be honest and say these same fears have flickered in the back of my mind... but honestly? I'm not too worried about it! I suppose I still have not had all my faith in humanity/Americanity (OOOH I just made up a new word!) destroyed yet, and I would like to think that's for good reason!

And lastly, I don't think we need to fuel these fears. Option 4 is by far, IMO, the more likely of the three. I think America can get over this BS, it just might take until January 20th for the nation to realize it's done, lets make the best of what we get!

Oh, and you know what concerns the "rednecks" around me more than the fact that Obama is black? His views on gun control! It doesn't seem they care too much what color the Pres is, more that he lets them keep their guns!

B Mac 9:02 PM  

Oh, absolutely, option 4) is the best. And it is probably the most likely. I should have specified; numbers 1-3 were the outcomes that have me concerned.

B Mac 9:04 PM  

And "Americanity" should be in the pledge of allegiance, the presidential oath of office, and the boy scout pledge. EPIC word creation...

Sopor 9:07 PM  

"Option 4 is by far, IMO, the more likely of the three."

Wow, how in the hell did this make it through my logic processors? I think I need a drink...

Smitty 9:57 PM  

I want to see a Facebook "Piece of Flair" that says, simply, "Americanity."

Sopor 7:37 AM  

It will be there by the end of the day!

Rickey Henderson 8:09 AM  

Based on some of the shit we're hearing the crowds say at these Palin/McCain rallies, that third scenario isn't too far outside the realm of possibility. Sad but true.

Bob 8:13 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob 8:16 AM  

The question is, are there really that many bigots out there who still would consider a Democratic Presidential candidate? I say the Democrats lost most of those folks long ago. I know there are racist Democrats, but I am betting most of them have been voting for R's in presidential elections.

The question is, does the Bradley Effect exist? This is not a measure of people voting against a person based on race, but a measure of the people lying to pollster about it. If you believe it exists, then there are somewhere around 6 percent of Obama “supporters” lying to pollsters. If this is true, then there are six states that are currently in favor of Obama by less than 6 percent, who will flip on Election Day. According to the current Real Clear Poltitics map, that would mean McCain wins by 274 to 264 electoral votes. That said, Obama's lead may grow beyond 6 percent in states like Colorado by Election Day.

Nate Silver at FiveThrityEight.com has an interesting article dispelling the myth of the Bradley Effect.

As far as the reaction to an Obama loss, I think that will depend on whether or not people feel that McCain won fairly or not. If it is seen as another “stolen election,” then people could voice their anger inappropriately. If stupid attacks like the Ayers acquaintance and especially Reverend Wright garbage have an impact, I could see people seeing it as an somewhat stolen victory.

The one thing I would say is that I do believe that when Palin says that “he is not like us” she is allowing people to fill in the blanks to what she means. I am not so Polly-Ann-ish to believe that people aren’t willing to win an election based on race. I never thought in a million years I would hear a Clinton talk about being the favorite candidate of white voters, but we heard it in the primaries.

George 12:30 PM  

I don't know--when the Republicans actually steal elections, the Dems roll over. So if the Republicans just think an election is stolen, all hell will break loose? Tell me we haven't gone that far into the world of wackydom.

It's sort of encouraging, in a twisted way, that there are anecdotes like this one going around: it seems even some folks who are more than willing to call Obama the N-word might even vote for him. If he's pulling some of the racist vote, there is hope for America.

Bob 12:45 PM  

George-

I think it is possible that racists WILL still vote for Obama kind of like they will root for a black athlete to succeed. Of course if Obama is seen as a bad President, the voter will go back to calling him the N-word and explain it away with race.

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