Friday, December 14, 2012

The Failure of the Politics of Fear and Resentment: Republican Shibboleths, Bugaboos, and Things That Go Bump in the Night

Republicans have suffered more than an election defeat, they’ve seen the collapse of a decades-long political strategy: The constant and continued use of white working class fear and resentment of black people in order to consolidate, maintain and, when and where possible, expand their base... Simply speaking, the Republican strategy has, for decades, been to dupe the average, 'work-a-day' , white voters into voting against their own best interests. This has been done by invoking and then politicizing racial fears and resentments, inherent in American society and culture, and ingrained and harbored in the white psyche. "Dog whistle " politics and policies will not go away any time soon, however, the fact of changing demographics has caught up with a strategy that, at its core, is racist.
Racism is still a fact of political and social life in America. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the effect and impact of racism as the ideological foundation of political success has eroded to the point where America's first black president was able to win a second term. Republicans have gotten it so wrong that the Democrats have no need to make a real effort to get it right. While it may be true that race is no longer a viable tactic in presidential campaigns, it remains a significant determining factor in the nature and quality of daily life for people of color in general and black people in particular. Reduction of the effect of the vernacular of race based politics and policies from the process of electing a president is only part of the challenge. The challenge that remains is removal of the effects that signals and symbols of racial fear and resentment have on our daily lives and discourse: A shibboleth is a word or phrase whose usage identifies the speaker as belonging to a particular group. It also refers to a word or phrase used to identify, characterize, or symbolize those who do not belong to the particular class or group of people to which the speaker belongs: the "silent majority", the "southern strategy", "law and order", the "war on poverty", the "war on drugs", "cultural enrichment", "entitlement programs", "equal opportunity", "affirmative action", "deficit spending", "voter ID" , and the birth certificate... A bugaboo is a legendary scary creature:
The angry black man and
The welfare queen.... There are many white people going to bed at night uttering or muttering something like this: "From ghoulies and ghosties And long-leggedy beasties And things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us....."

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