Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wedge Issues and Republicans

Harold Meyerson has a op-ed about "the American president Americans have been waiting for" in today's WaPo. He's speaking about John McCain of course, whose campaign is pushing the theme of McCain's "American identity." That's because it's the only way they feel he can prevail over Obama. Of course, "American" is code for "white" and "Christian," and his campaign managers aren't dumb, they know a disproportionate number of people write "American" when answering the census question on ethnic origin.

I guess those "Americans" answer that way in an effort to distinguish themselves from the "others." Meyerson reminds us about one "other" American:
Now, I mean to take nothing away from McCain's Americanness by noting that it's Obama's story that represents a triumph of specifically American identity over racial and religious identity. It was the lure of America, the shining city on a hill, that brought his black Kenyan father here, where he met Obama's white Kansan mother. It is because America is uniquely the land of immigrants and has moved beyond a racial caste system that Obama exists, has thrived and stands a good chance of being our next president.
Of course, Republicans don't want us to be inspired by Obama's story. They want race and religion to be wedge issues, and there's a good reason for that.
In poll after poll, there's not a single major issue on which the public agrees with them or their presumptive nominee. Not Iraq, certainly. Not the economy. Should the election turn on the question of "What are you going to do for America?" rather than "Are you a real American?" Republicans are doomed. They offer no solutions for the stagnation (or decline) of American living standards, or for the weakening of America's economic power. They offer no resolution to America's war of choice in Iraq. Their party leader, the incumbent president, let a great American city drown. They are the American party, and McCain the American nominee, that hasn't a clue about how to help America in its (prolonged, I fear) moment of need.
They've failed us utterly and they know it. However, instead of taking responsibility and admitting their failures, they're decided to resort to racial and religious bigotry to hold onto power. That doesn't surprise me, and it doesn't worry me. I believe a growing majority of Americans have matured and learned to embrace the differences among us (as witnessed by the number of people voting for Obama). It's the GOP that still clings to their childish ways.

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