Americans call July 4, 1776 Independence Day; it’s an inaccuracy that is indicative of both our best and worst traits as a society. It speaks to what lives in the heart of American determination, because it celebrates the day America announced it had enough of British rule. It’s a defiant, boastful point of view to pinpoint the signing of the Declaration of Independence as the day that America became its own country. It speaks volumes about our force of will, as a people.
But it also illustrates one of our biggest failings. Because we tend to be so results-oriented, we sometimes give short shrift to the massive efforts taken to achieve those results. The American Revolution did not begin on ‘Independence Day,’ and it certainly didn’t end there. We tend to forget that the 4th of July was, in some ways, symbolic in nature; the Founding Fathers offering tangible proof that the United States intended to be free, and that they would not waver from achieving that end. For the most part, the actual war for freedom lay ahead. It was a call to arms for both America and England.
Just as Signing the Declaration of Independence didn’t end British rule in America, racism didn’t end the day Barack Obama was elected president. And even though (or more accurately, because) his ascension to the highest office in the land was a clear, triumphant rejection of discrimination by Americans, racism looks to be mounting one last, desperate counter-attack on our country. And it has cast Mitt Romney as its ‘Great White Hope,’ to Barack Obama’s Jack Johnson.
Let me say, in no uncertain terms: Progressives did not vote for Barack Obama because he’s black. He won the 2008 presidential election on the merit of his proposals, and his outstanding rhetorical skills. It also didn’t hurt that John McCain ran such a poor campaign (Yes, I’m looking at you, Sarah.). But I think that the majority of people who voted for him, will tell you: It felt pretty damn good, to know we were making a special kind of history. It felt good to be part of that giant step forward; like tearing down a piece of the Berlin Wall. After the nearly fatal presidency of George W. Bush (a particularly inept leader who until Romney, could have been considered the poster child for the failing of white privilege), it was a bold step in what we knew was the right direction.
But racism has always been with us. An objective reading of our history reveals a laundry list of abuses against people of all colors, save (of course) white. From Manifest Destiny, through slavery, the building of the railways and internment camps; right up to today’s Islamaphobia, racism has always been here. Like an especially tenacious weed, it has deep roots in America’s soil.
The racist contingent of Americans have thrown in with Romney. They have endorsed him, as a means to get rid of the black man in the White House, just as strongly and maniacally as they did ‘Birtherism.’ And the conservative powers-that-be have welcomed them, with open arms. The leading voices of the Republican party, may not be inherently racist, as much as they are committed to holding on to the power that white privilege has always afforded them. They would have behaved the same way if Hillary Clinton had won. Remember; they spent the whole of Bill Clinton’s term trying to disgrace him and obstruct everything he attempted.
I don’t know if Mitt Romney is racist in his heart. I don’t really care; Romney is such an insanely bad candidate on every conceivable level, that it hardly even matters. I do know, however, he’s not above using racist dog whistles to appeal to those Americans who are racist. To paraphrase John Stuart Mills: Although it is true that not all conservatives are racist, most racists are conservative.
Barack Obama’s rise to power has brought out the very worst in the people, who make up the very worst of us. It is a firmly established fact that racism is the product of low I.Q. And that is reflected in the very fact that Mitt Romney stands today in a position to become the President of the United States. The (racially based) fear and hatred of Barack Obama has created a vacuüm, that this dangerously under-qualified fool has used to coast into prominence, as he has coasted into most things in his lifetime.
Nobody likes Mitt Romney. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Republicans never have; even the most extreme people on the far-right find him unbearably vapid, and smug beyond tolerability. And the people who will vote for him, will mostly do so to vote against Obama. That’s not racist in and of itself, unless you consider just how truly awful it is, that Mitt Romney might run our country:
They’re ‘Christian conservatives’ who are voting against a Christian, in favor of a Mormon. Although it is a time of high unemployment, Mitt Romney has made his fortune laying waste to American businesses. He is one of the creator’s of the formula that has created the situation we’re in; further he is a beneficiary of high unemployment. Everything, everything about him is the opposite of what America requires right now, and anyone can see that. Unless they’re blind, or more correctly colorblind, to what an American President needs to be.
His vanity, petulance and inability to be honest are a matter of indisputable public record; unless you are wealthy there’s no plausible reason to be for Mitt Romney. Unless you would vote for anyone to defeat Barack Obama. And many, many people will vote for Mitt, solely because of race. They’ll do anything to ‘take back America,’ and they’ll use any means to do so. They are that desperate. We’re not done fighting for freedom from the ignorance of racism. But take heart, progressives:
If Mitt Romney is the best counter-attack that racism in America can provide, then we have it on the ropes. And we will keep fighting.