Friday, August 1, 2008

Race Card? You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet!

“[Republicans] are desperate to win this election – there’s a lot at stake. And they’re going to say and do whatever they need to to get [re-]elected. … The Supreme Court’s at stake.”

Oh! “Buy a gun. And learn how to use it.”

This is a difficult blog to write, and I’m still mulling through how to process this information. One thing I’ve noticed over the years in politics: there are those who create chaos in order that they control and then make their own order out of that chaos.

The bottom line of what I learned today: Republicans will start a race war if they have to in order to win the presidency. It’s one of those “options” that’s not “off the table.” The logic? If they get blacks (and other minorities) out in an L.A. riot fashion, it’ll scare most all of the whites back over to the Republican side come election time.

There’s a friend I used to work with years ago who was the HR person, I’ll call her Dee for sake of this writing. Conservative, DeLay fan (and actually an acquaintance of some level), “keep government out of my pocket book” (read: I want to pay zero taxes) type. She and her hubby aren’t politicos, but more the fringe hangers-on types: go to the district get-togethers, get a photo with ol’ Hammerhead, hobnob with the other ambitious or peripherally supportive types.

When I was outed at work, she informed me that she “already knew” my status. She’d done the background checks – and didn’t notify the boss (who we both shared a mutual hatred for). We actually worked on charities and fundraisers together … Navidad en el Barrio, for instance. She was more of a renaissance conservative than the typical type we envision as the Bush neo-con.

That said, she was firmly Christian, didn’t approve of gay sex (I worked to soften her on that over the years) and was okay with minorities – but didn’t want to have to live around them. She lived in Sugar Land, home to both the infamous T.C. Jester prison unit in the middle of the sugarcane fields and also Tom DeLay and a similar arch-conservative devotees.

“If you’re ever down in Houston, you better act right,
You better not gamble, or get in a fight.
‘Cause the sheriff will arrest you, and he’ll bring you down.
The next thing you’re knowin’… you’ll be Sugar Land bound.” — Midnight Special, Leadbelly

So how did we become friends? She thought of me as a curiosity: asexual (no sex was a plus with her), a Methodist traditionalist (albeit deist, not a churchgoer), and not the expected down-the-line “bleeding heart liberal” as my budgetary fiscal policies were near hers while we diverged on the social issues. During my time working with her, I debunked a lot of the inaccurate “myths” about us and got her to see beyond the superficial. We became friends, political differences notwithstanding.

For the most part we’d lost touch until I sent an Email to her to join one of the online groups I’d just joined. She didn’t join, but it gave us opportunity to chat. She called and said we needed to talk, but in person. That was odd … I was thinking maybe one of her kids – maybe even she – was coming out or something. Either way, that of itself was unusual. It turned out not to be anything so personally salacious.

We talked politics!

She asked who I was supporting for president, and I mentioned I was an Obama precinct captain and a national delegate. She laughed and said “I knew it!” She (a huge Clinton-hater, I might add) knew I wouldn’t be for Hillary, and I explained … also noting my initial allegiance for Edwards. She nodded – no surprise at all there! (In a way I was offended that she thought me that predictable).

Then I asked her about her choice for president and recalled one candidate who she thought of openly in rather unkind terms: John McCain. She admitted that she had a “lot of respect” for Obama, and noted his reaching out to Christian conservatives on faith-based issues (no surprise). But she was supporting McCain, a man she railed against as a RINO (Republican In Name Only).

Thus we hit upon the reason she called me to visit personally. Realpolitik. Specifically she discussed what we were going to look forward to this fall.

Dee mentioned that the party has gotten the word out: they were going to say whatever was necessary and do whatever necessary in order to get McCain and whichever “good conservative will be chosen as his running mate” elected. McCain had sufficiently “satisfied the rank-and-file” party leadership and assured them he was “their man” and would do “whatever was necessary.” For her to be convinced of someone she considered one step this side of Bill Clinton, that meant something significant.

"I have a competition in me. I want no one else to succeed. I hate most people." — Daniel Day-Lewis from “There Will Be Blood”

Just yesterday, coincidentally, word came out on The Hill News [] that Republicans are even encouraging their incumbents to “run against the GOP” as the title stated. “These [congressional approval] ratings are worse than we had on the eve of losing the majority,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK). “Don’t be afraid to say you are disappointed in fellow Republicans… don’t hesitate to be anti-Washington, D.C.”

It sounds self-destructive, but as Dee reminded, once elected, they’ll be “their man” for whatever the GOP needs. Basically, they felt they were far from defeated.

Then the conversation became vaguely ominous. As Dee lives in an overwhelmingly white neighborhood in Sugar Land, her concern turned to me. She noted that what we’ve seen recently, even on the “race card” issue played on Obama is just the beginning. “This will get ugly,” she informed me.

As noted at the beginning of this, she reiterated the desperation in GOP-land. They were preparing to take a major hit in Congress. That said, they could not “under any circumstances” lose the presidency. The Supreme Court was what she brought up, though I somehow got a gut sense there were other reasons beyond that.

I asked her openly if this was because they couldn’t have the country led by a black man. She reiterated her respect for Obama and his reaching out on faith-based initiatives. But she also let the question trail off without answering and went back to the hackneyed “liberal courts” line and the Supreme Court’s “liberal” leaning, and also how Obama would (cryptically) “wreck the economy.” Needless to say, I reminded her of the current and longstanding wreckage, not to mention Bush’s immediate whining about “inheriting” it from Clinton and how easy that would be to apply to Bush.

Then she leaned forward and said, “look, you know how well we [GOP] run elections,” and then after a pause followed up with an odd question: “are you still living in that neighborhood?” (My neighborhood is in Alief, an extremely diverse neighborhood in Houston’s wild, wild west, with a notable portion of African-Americans of varying descent). When I answered, she responded “have you ever thought about moving?”

This was getting personal and strange. I answered and noted I wasn’t about to move as it wasn’t feasible, nor did I have the desire. Then came the follow up: Buy a gun. She said she knew there were a lot of minorities in my neighborhood, knew I was not a gun person, and was telling me this “as a friend” who “worries about me,” which she tacked on as she saw me getting upset.

Clearly this was getting strange. So I asked what she was talking about. She responded that the party was “ready to do whatever possible to keep the White House and to win as many elections down the ballot as possible.” She noted “there’s a lot at stake,” etc.

So I outright asked if they were planning on race-baiting. She answered in one of those oh-so-political answers that sounds like it’s a full denial, but if you listen closely, it never really answers the question directly.

So I re-asked: what’s going to happen? Are they actually expecting there to be racial problems? (which I’ll note have been remarkably absent thus far this season) Isn’t this going to paint McCain’s campaign as racist?

“Look at it this way … if we end up with riots, you know, like Rodney King? If that happens, what do you think is going to happen to the white democrat vote? Or the independent vote? They vote for McCain because they’re scared? Maybe they stay home and don’t vote at all? Either way, it benefits [Republicans].”

"You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, and nobody listened. And then I began talking about n:ggers, and they stomped the floor!" — Alabama Gov. George Wallace

By then, I was getting visibly upset and Dee noticed and began wrapping up our visit. As I walked out of the restaurant with her, I asked why they’re doing this, to which she replied “we’re not doing this! They’re doing it – already!” This was a reference to the comment Obama made about “people on the dollar bills don’t look like” him.(1) It became clear: Republicans were planning on using any possible occurrence to claim Obama’s the first to play “the race card,” to which they’ll just look like they’re responding.

This is a hyperbolically desperate campaign and political party we’re dealing with.

As a parting comment, Dee reiterated the suggestion to get a gun and a permit, etc. Even though it sounds bad reading this in written fashion, she was meaning this in a concerned fashion. I told her I had no intention of that, or of moving. Then she asked if I had friends in Vermont or New Hampshire … maybe I could move and stay with for a while (presumably until things blow over)?

At this moment, I’m just getting this out of my head onto blog because I really don’t know what to do with this. I’m outraged, depressed, numb and in disbelief. Even just mentioning this may be enough to start the wheels of chaos in motion from our side – just what the GOPpers would love! Play right into their greedy hands!

Yet I also can’t just sit aside and watch them get the fuck away with this! I did that once before the Iraq War and always felt I should’ve pushed harder.

Now I haven’t invested all of this in the Obama campaign: the time, the blockwalking, all the crap I took and the work over these months just to tuck tail and run away! I also didn’t sign up to this to end up making of myself a sitting duck, either! I have a legitimate stake in this election. Like much of America, I’m also getting financially hammered like a railroad spike. The thought of a GOP controlled government takes what tenuously little hope I have left and puts it out of its misery – there’s nothing left, no hope. And running away to somewhere safe is a similarly virtual impossibility as I have no wherewithal, and zero desire to do it.

So these powers that be will do whatever the bloody hell they feel because they have the money and the power to do so. Meanwhile folks like me, the “dummies” that don’t take heed and stay put get the same treatment as New Orleans post-Katrina: YOYO’s! (You’re On Your Own, for the unitiatiated). It reminds me of a T-shirt I saw in New Orleans that displayed the FEMA evacuation plan: “Run motherfucker, run!”

There are those who create chaos in order that they control and then make their own order out of that chaos. And there are folks like me who hate their manipulative fucking guts!

“If the people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it exists – to protect them and to promote their common welfare – all else is lost.” — Sen. Barack Obama

(1) As a post-script to the blog, it was pointed out that Obama's dollar bill comment may not have been such a non-sequitur in his speech. It turns out that the McCain campaign put out a video that went out in June which had (among other things) a photo of Obama on a $100 dollar bill.

Was this what Obama was referring to during his speech in Missouri?

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