Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A quick note about tribalism, politics, and Tucker Carlson

Since I started opining about politics four years ago, I've worked hard not to be a mindless hack. For me, that's meant trying to adhere to a few principles, and to analyze accordingly: If that meant Democrats ended up on the wrong side of the analysis, fine. If (less frequently) Republicans ended up on the right side, well, that was OK too. The important thing was to eschew tribalism and be intellectually honest. And if a few liberal friends rolled their eyes at me when I struggled with whether Barack Obama deserved my vote, I could live with that.

Then Tuesday happened.

And then George Will explained that the only reason the nation might re-elect Obama is race: We don't want a black man not to succeed. As though the president hadn't actually lost electoral support because of his skin tone.  It was amazingly patronizing, and it had the side benefit of letting Will avoid analyzing other reasons the electorate might not want to see Republicans in the White House, or confronting the idea that George W. Bush really damaged the GOP brand that badly.

And then, on Facebook, I witnessed an acquaintance muse that the only reason Obama is still alive is because (presumably politically correct?) would-be assassins didn't want to be responsible for killing the nation's first black president. (Those comments, thankfully, were later deleted.) As though President Obama doesn't actually face an unprecedented number of personal threats each day.  As though white guilt is the only force behind Obama's success.

And then, on Twitter, The Daily Caller, and Fox News, I watched the Republican establishment try to characterize a five-year-old speech by President Obama as somehow showing his "real," anti-white racism. (It didn't.) We watched anchors on Fox News tried to assess the president's "authentic" accent, as though he'd been shucking-and-jiving in front of a black audience. We watched, basically, as the GOP tried again to scare white voters with a niggerized cariacature of the president.

And, when asked what evidence for that cariacature was contained in the president's actual, four-year record of governance, conservatives were mostly silent. Except to warn we'd find out about the "real" Obama in his second term.

And I gained clarity.

There are good reasons to criticize President Obama. There are good, conservative reasons to criticize President Obama--if you really believe in limited government, ending or reducing the entitlement state, in lower taxes, there are good, principled reasons to oppose the president.

But the GOP establishment isn't betting on those reasons to carry the day. They're hoping to terrorize voters with trumped-up racial fearmongering.

And I don't want them to win.

I don't want people who buy this stuff to be on the winning side. I don't want people who sell this stuff to be on the winning side. I don't want Hannity and Carlson or any of the Breitbart crew to taste the champagne on on election night. I want them to lose, I want them to lose badly, I want them to be humiliated, because as bad as the last decade has been in this country, it's worse yet if a final, desperate roll of the Southern Strategy dice proves successful.

I don't like this side of myself. I want to be too rational to give into base tribalism. But more than that, I don't want them to win. So thanks, Tucker. Thanks, Hannity. Thanks, Drudge. You've given me clarity I didn't have before. I unambiguously want President Obama to win re-election. We'll deal with the fallout from that later. 

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