Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Too Bad the Country's First Black President Can't Go All Django on Them: The Shutdown of the United States Government by the Tea Party GOP is an Act of Political Castration Against Barack Obama
Joan Walsh has a great piece on the role of white racism in the Tea Party GOP's determined--and for now successful--effort to shutdown the United States government. She also echoes many of the points we have been developing here on We Are Respectable Negroes. It is nice to be in such smart company.
The tempter tantrum by a group of right-wing zealots to subvert democracy in order to derail the expansion of health care to millions of Americans is more than partisan bickering. It is a sign of how one of the country's two governing parties is now fully broken.
One of the long-held arguments about American Exceptionalism centers on the stability of our party system. The logic suggests that consensus liberalism and a "first past the post winner take all" electoral system creates a tendency towards centrism. The Tea Party GOP is a radical political faction with no interest in reasonable governance. To that end, they found what video game players call an "exploit" in the system. As such, they are mining the loopholes in the Constitution which allow for tyrannical behavior by a minority of people in the legislature for maximum effect.
The disruptive political behavior by the Tea Party is also a direct function of how the Republican Party is the country's de facto "White" political interest group--and how the Tea Party, its most extreme element, functions as a White Identity organization.
Obama has been the focus of repeated efforts by the Right to delegitimize his presidency. Most of these are fundamentally rooted in a deep anxiety about his race. In all, a black man is incompatible with the "real America" that the Tea Party and neo-Confederate Republican Party yearns for. Obama's personhood, and all of the history and weight that comes with it, is outside of the boundaries of what it means to be "American" for the White Right, their allies, and many in Red State America.
And despite his extremely conservative racial politics, and almost instinctive retreat from any discussion of white racism and its impact on communities of color, Barack Obama is to them the black president bogeyman who must be stopped at every opportunity in order to save the Tea Party GOP's dream of a White Republic.
Since the founding of the United States, black folks (and other people of color) have long been seen by the White Gaze as racial pollutants in the American body politic. We can be a source of labor and wealth for White America. But, black folks and other people of color are not supposed to be full citizens, equal with white Americans, and receiving the full material benefits of that civic identity.
African-Americans have been barred by violence, arms, the law, and other means from full citizenship for a majority of the centuries we have been in what would eventually become the United States of America.
In the short time that constitutes our full citizenship and freedom in the United States a black man became President.
That was not supposed to happen.
Barack Obama's election in 2008 was exciting and thrilling and positive for many Americans, while simultaneously being a thing of terror, fear, and anxiety for others who cannot cognitively and emotionally reconcile how a black man, as President, is now American royalty and the symbolic embodiment of the State.
Birtherism and legislative obstructionism are efforts by the Tea Party GOP and White Right to make Obama politically impotent. The Affordable Care Act is the crown jewel of Obama's presidency and legacy. It must be opposed at any cost by Republicans, even if the result is a Pyrrhic victory and the shaming of their party.
Barack Obama had the unmitigated gall to run for President and to win...twice. There is no greater affront to the Tea Party GOP as the defender of "conservative" and "traditional" American values--especially as those standing norms have been centered upon maintaining a system of white male (and class) privilege.
Obama's punishment? A government shutdown, debt ceiling crises, and manufactured scandals that are efforts to symbolically castrate the United States' first black president.
Barack Obama is not allowed the revenge fantasy against the Tea Party GOP that is the movie Django: Unchained. If he were, then perhaps the obstructionist politics of the Republican Party could be broken and Congress allowed to do the People's business.