In the 2014 midterm elections, the Democratic Party lost control of the Senate to the Republicans. This was expected: the incumbent political party of the president has lost seats in almost every off year election in modern American political history.
Barack Obama also represents an outlier example. He is the first President of the United States who is not a white man. This fact added an extra layer of drama and emotion to the 2014 midterm elections.
The strategy of deploying white racial resentment and overt white racism by the Republican Party in order to mobilize its aging and dying base of older voters against the Democratic Party was a factor in the midterm election outcomes. Political scientists and other analysts will soon be developing the specific metrics for the negative "racial coattails" of Barack Obama in relation to Democratic candidates. Thus, we will have to rely on intuition and imputing from how Obama's race cost him white votes in 2008--and the macro level examples of racism as political strategy by the Republican Party during his two terms in office--as sufficient proof for that claim.
The Republican Party's win in the 2014 midterms is not a rejection of the Democratic Party's policies (on specific policy issues the American people overwhelming support the Democratic Party) per se. It is a channeling of general angst and hostility toward a government which has been broken by the Republican Party, an angst that they in turn have masterfully deflected back on Obama and the Democrats.
For the White Right and the Republican Party, more generally, the midterms are an actual and symbolic repudiation of Barack Obama, the United States' first black president. From Birtherism, to their embrace of neo Confederate language and ideology, and overt acts of racial animus and paranoia, the Republican Party and its media machine have dedicated themselves to putting the "uppity", "arrogant", "usurper", black tyrant "back in his place".
For the White Gaze, Obama is also a stand-in for Black Americans, as well as the idea of a changing and demographically more diverse United States. For the White Right, beating Obama (the wish of doing so literally; the act of winning an election, figuratively) is a way of reasserting dominance--as though it was ever lost--over the life chances and political fortunes of Black and Brown America.
A perverse and deranged worldview in which a significant percentage of white Americans actually believe that they are "oppressed" and "face more discrimination" than non-whites is the social and political racial context for Obama and the Democratic Party's defeat in the midterms .
The ultimate goal for the Republican Party is the impeachment of Barack Obama during the remaining two years of his tenure. The uppity black dandy who dared to put on his fancy clothes, move into the White House with his beautiful black family, and had the unmitigated gall to win a presidential election, twice (what hubris!), must be humiliated for the world view and cognitive map of the herrenvolk White Right and Tea Party GOP to remain intact.
By implication and association, the public shaming, humiliation, and bullying of Obama is a more high profile and public example of the daily micro aggressions and other types of both personal and institutional white supremacy that black and brown Americans negotiate on a daily basis in the United States of America.
Politics is about competition over resources. Politics is also about the mobilization and manipulation of the public's emotions. The former is relatively easy to measure; the latter is a bit more difficult to quantify.
My intuitions and feelings tell me that something has gone horribly wrong in the United States. The body politic has been sick for decades: but my gut tells me that the problem is deeper, as the United States has been existentially amiss from the Reagan years to the present.
Somehow the master slogan and trick for a gullible public known as "hope and change" has been transformed into a naked plutocracy that is aided and abetted in its crimes by white supremacy and white racial resentment. How did this transformation occur? Has there been a disruption in the space time continuum? Did someone "cross the streams"?
Science fiction and speculative fiction are among the most powerful of genres because of their ability to allow the reader to consider the counter factual and "what if?" scenario.
Some members of the pundit and commentariat classes have suggested that the United States is now in a second "Redemption"/end of Reconstruction era. Such a claim is interesting. However, the parallels between the end of the radical experiment in democracy made possible by African-Americans at the end of the Civil War across the former Confederacy through to the stolen Hayes-Tilden election in 1876 that renewed the white terror of the South against black folks, are too few for such a claim to be sustained.
Nonetheless, the observation that America's politics are in a retrograde and backwards looking reactionary moment is compelling and lucid.
Consider the following:
1. The Republican Party has openly embraced the language, symbols, and rhetoric of the old Confederacy. The American Swastika in the banner of the Republican Party and its Tea Party radicals.
2. The gains of the Civil Rights Movement have been rolled back by a right wing judiciary.
3. The Republican Party is using Jim and Jane Crow voter suppression and intimidation tactics against black and brown Americans in order to subvert a people's democracy and to reinstate herrenvolk white rule.
4. Obama's tenure has been beset by overt white racism from the Republican Party, the right-wing media, and conservatives en masse.
5. A black person is a victim of a lynching by the police or their affiliates at least every 28 hours in the United States. In keeping with this regime of racial terrorism, a black American is at least 21 times more likely to be killed by the police than a white person.
These racial reactionary politics exist and are aided by unfathomable levels of income and wealth inequality most closely resembling the American Gilded Age of the 19th century.
As counted in Western calendar years, the year is 2014 CE. To me, it does not feel like 1876. But, it also does not feel like we in the United States are in second decade of the 21st century--at a social and political level of progress that the most hopeful of dreamers would have imagined some decades ago.
What year does it feel like to you? Are we in a dystopian present/future? Has Jim and Jane Crow merged with Gilded Age as the timeline has somehow been distorted or changed? Or is 2014 America in the Age of Obama, the White Right, and the Gilded Age, the true and now semi-permanent face of the country?