With the recent broadcasts of McCain supporters’ nasty comments about Barack Obama–calling him “terrorrist” and even suggesting he be killed, not to mention the nasty remarks to Obama supporters gathered outside McCain rallies–everything from “why aren’t you at work?” to “Commie faggots,” one has to wonder if the so-called “average American” the McCain-Palin camp claims to represent isn’t a rather dangerous breed.
Too, the so-called “Obamabots” and “Obama-maniacs,” with their rhetoric smacking of quasi-religious idolatry of their “savior,” are a worrying bunch as well. There seems to be some sort of Passion Play being dramatized in this presidential election that really has no place in our political arena.
I can certainly understand that emotions in our country are running high, what with the mortgage crisis cum credit-crunch cum world economic crisis, the loss of billions (trillions?) of dollars of our nation’s retirement savings portfolios, the scary health care situation, the fear of terrorism, the wars that go on and on, the price of gas, and all the other serious issues looming over and ahead of us.
But all these crises cry out not for fervent idolatry or hate speech. They cry out for cool heads and calm voices. They call for careful deliberation and carefully-crafted plans. They call for neighbors and community members to lock arms, look each other in the eye, and say, “we will get through this–all of us.”
Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish had an excellent commentary concerning the fear-mongering on the McCain side I’ll copy here in its succinct entirety (hat tip to H. for the link):
There was always going to be a point of revolt and panic for a core group of Americans who believe that Obama simply cannot be president – because he’s black or liberal or young or relatively new. This is that point. As the polls suggest a strong victory, the Hannity-Limbaugh-Steyn-O’Reilly base are going into shock and extreme rage. McCain and Palin have decided to stoke this rage, to foment it, to encourage paranoid notions that somehow Obama is a “secret” terrorist or Islamist or foreigner. These are base emotions in both sense of the word.
But they are also very very dangerous. This is a moment of maximal physical danger for the young Democratic nominee. And McCain is playing with fire. If he really wants to put country first, he will attack Obama on his policies – not on these inflammatory, personal, creepy grounds. This is getting close to the atmosphere stoked by the Israeli far right before the assassination of Rabin.
For God’s sake, McCain, stop it. For once in this campaign, put your country first.[The Atlantic. 10 Oct. 2008]
One thing I noticed about the political floats in yesterday’s homecoming parade was that neither side advertised the “top of the ticket” on their trailers and trucks and bicycles (cool, Jerry Wilson!). It surprised me a little–but then in a place like South Dakota, the local and state elections tend to be the ones that are actually contested.
But I wouldn’t be surprised if those who practice “Midwestern politeness” are turned off by the current state of the presidential race and avoiding tainting their own campaigns, even in this very red state, by association with the irrational rhetoric at top of their ticket.