Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy Fourth?

If you look close you can see the states and territories on the caps.  One kid represents "Porto Rico,"  The little Eskimo Alaska, and I assume the kid in the grass clothes Hawaii.  All were territories in 1902, and only Puerto Rico remains a territory, yet it is the closest to the mainland of the United States.

More than that, the image shows the cultural diversity of the country at a time such matters weren't openly discussed.  Lady Liberty is telling Uncle Sam, "It's all right!  There's no fighting!  The noise you hear is just my family celebrating."  Words we should take to heart.

Alas, this Fourth of July is a bittersweet one as our president and conservative pundits have turned patriotism into a sledge hammer, appealing to the xenophobes among us who want to see a whiter America.  This was made even more apparent by an order issued by Jefferson Beauregard Sessions to revoke Obama-era guidance in regard to diversity on college campuses, although an ax would be a more appropriate metaphor in this case.

This administration is either oblivious to or is actively trying to recall the segregationist ghosts of the past that led to Jim Crow laws and the disenfranchisement of Americans who weren't white.  It's like Commander Jeff was holding a seance with George Wallace back home in Alabama.

It's not just the manufactured crisis on the border, it's a pernicious attitude that has crept into American society much the same as in the early part of the 20th century, which led Puck to publish that image.  This Nativist attitude rears its head time and again, but since 1964 we had been effectively able to keep it to the fringes of political discourse until the 2016 election.  Now, it is front and center once again, taking on all kinds of ugly manifestations.

Republicans try desperately to disavow the uglier Nativist insticts of their base, but their mantra "America First," is what is spawning cretins like Holocaust-denier Arthur Jones, who won the Republican primary for US Representative of the 3rd Congressional District outside of Chicago.  He doesn't have much chance of winning given it is a heavily Democratic district, but Ted felt impelled to voice his disdain just the same.

The only question is why Ted isn't similarly condemning Corey Stewart, who is running against Tim Kaine for a Virginia Senate seat.  Stewart is every bit as outside the pale as Arthur Jones.  So much so that Virginia Republicans are deeply worried Stewart will drag down the whole party in November.  But, Cruz stays mum, and worst of all Trump actively supports Stewart, essentially condoning the hatred this man engenders among the Republican base.

So many Republicans are running on xenophobic agendas, hoping to stir their base into action this Fall to offset early losses in special elections.  For them, the only good America is a white America, and they are especially proud of their President, who has been championing their cause throughout his 18 months in office.

Granted, there are those Republicans who are deeply worried about the direction Trump is taking their party, but given the poll numbers they are very much in the minority.  Trump currently enjoys a 90 per cent approval rating among GOP voters.  Some moderates in the party have actually switched sides like Steve Schmidt, but other moderates try to create a false equivalence and promote themselves as a "third option."  Mitt Romney remains coy, playing both sides of the Republican divide in his bid for Orin Hatch's Utah Senate Seat this Fall.

A party that once stood for universal suffrage now promotes voter ID laws, draconian immigration policies, the end of affirmative action and just about anything that smacks of cultural diversity.  They once again try to evoke Reagan's "Colorblind Society," twisting the words of the Constitution as Reagan once did Martin Luther King, Jr.

We'll see how it plays out this Fall, but as Corey Stewart has intoned, it is going to be a "vicious, ruthless" campaign, as he and other Republican candidates take demagoguery to an even lower level in these mid-term elections.  This time the noise you hear will give Uncle Sam reasons for concern.

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