Rick Santorum gives me the impression that if he was on Mars, campaigning for the Martian vote, he would still find a way to blame black Americans for taking the tax dollars of white Americans. I don’t know what kind of constituencies Santorum is used to representing, but out here in real America, nobody is buying his “I must have said ‘blah’” bullshit. If you’re going to race bait, Mr. Santorum, be a man about it like your opponent Newt Gingrich. After all the racial fear mongering of Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and the 70’s version of Ron Paul last week, it took a couple of doses of the James Brown classic “Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud)” for me to get my equilibrium back.
But why do these guys do this and think they can get away with it? Because the news media is full of punks and pontificators who heartily embrace this notion of a public figure “walking back” a statement, a handy Media Mulligan that allows these candidates to make all sorts of reprehensible comments, confident that they will be able to deny their own words and get a do over later. The Fourth Estate has shirked its duty to hold the feet of those who govern or wish to govern to the fire, preferring instead to be considered as a an adjunct PR department for the candidate’s campaigns.
In the same way that a fish does not know that it is wet, the politics of nativism, an authoritarian-like embrace of the politics of us and them, and a fear of the Other, are so central to contemporary white populist conservatism, that they are taken-for-granted assumptions about the nature of the world.
Moreover, politics is essentially about the creation of an imagined community. The stump speeches about evil liberals who hate America, the cheering of dying cancer patients who lack insurance, the booing of gay soldiers, and the numerous fictions about the economy, science, the Constitution, and public policy more generally are taken as divine gospel. These fictions are standing priors for contemporary conservatives which help to mark out the boundaries of their political world.
In case Newt Gingrich is too hopped up on Viagra to remember the facts underlying his revisionist view of history, all of the black suffrage efforts in this country have always been about access to jobs, not government assistance. Once you get beyond the emotional impact of watching the Republican Party relive the 50’s, you realize that in the grand scheme of things, the race baiting of Gingrich and Santorum become irrelevant, because in America black people are here to stay. And most of us—let me rephrase that—THE MAJORITY OF US—are doing the right thing 24/7/365.