October 12, 2013

Republicans want to restore Confederacy

Columnist Dennis Hamill tells us what the government shutdown, aka the Obamacare battle, is all about:

Frightened white people in Congress who won't accept a black President are what's causing the deadlock

Even on Columbus Day extremist Republicans are stopping progress

By Dennis Hamill
[T]his isn’t about money, debt or deficit. It’s about race.

Five centuries after Columbus and his nervous white crew arrived, there is still a small crew of frightened white people in Congress who refuse to accept an America with a black man in charge.

These extremists have not yet been able to accept, even after two decisive national elections, that a black man occupies the White House.

For some of them, their single goal as members of Congress is to make this first African-American President fail.
A Southerner confirms the conservatives' irrational fear and loathing of minorities:

The irrational fear of President Obama

By Jonathan CapehartCapehart: The president and the Obama administration say the whole reason he did this is to get the 50 million Americans without health insurance to have health insurance.

Jackson: They figured out a way to get money out of the American people’s pockets. It won’t benefit—it’ll benefit a very small amount of people, and it’ll be the ones that are too lazy or unwilling to work, along with the millions and millions of illegal aliens in this country.

Capehart: You do know that the Affordable Care Act is not … undocumented workers are not eligible for Obamacare. That’s specific in the law.

Jackson: They can go into any Social security agency, welfare office, social services and they’re giving them stuff. They are handing it out to them left and right.

Capehart: What exactly are they handing out?

Jackson: Benefits! Look at them. They get food stamps. They get welfare, dependent children…. They help them with their housing, and they’re not even supposed to be in our country. They are here illegally, but, yet, they know how to work our system to get what they want. They want our health care. They want our food. They want our money, yet they don’t pay taxes. And they’ll look right at you and they’ll tell you, “No habla the English,” and laugh. But you understand what they’re saying. That really makes me angry.
As does this sign:

Arkansas Restaurant Sign Claims Obamacare Is 'America's Punishment For Slavery Years'

That pretty much says it all. Passing Obamacare = helping black and brown people = punishing white people. In short, those who oppose Obamacare are motivated by racism.

Racist Tea Party

Let's look more closely at the Republican Tea Party's racism. I added the red emphasis to highlight the key points.

Ex-GOP insider unloads: Blame “neo-Confederate insurrectionists” for shutdown!

"I would take Boehner drunk over Cruz sober," former 28-year GOP staffer-turned-author Mike Lofgren tells Salon

By Josh Eidelson
These people are basically neo-Confederate insurrectionists. They are in substantive rebellion against the orderly government of the country. And one of the things I noticed—and it’s something that’s very common in human beings—we all try to mollify or appease the crazy uncle at Thanksgiving dinner. You know, “Don’t make a scene.” Well, I noticed in the last few years of my service on the Hill that a number of Democrats seemed to be afraid of Republicans. And Obama pretty much wasted his first term trying to mollify them. I think he’s finally stumbled upon a strategy that’s better: simply not give them what they demand. Because this is a deliberate strategy to hold the government hostage.Pollsters: GOP will become even more extreme (if that’s possible)

New research suggests the factions currently leading the war on Obamacare will grow even more intransigent

By Steven Rosenfeld
Race is very much at play in right-wing politics and identity, the pollsters found.

“While few explicitly talk about Obama in racial terms, the base supporters are very conscious of being white in a country with growing minorities,” they said. They believe that “their party is losing to a Democratic Party of big government whose goal is to expand programs that mainly benefit minorities.”
And:Evangelicals were clearly the most aggrieved and discouraged GOP faction.

“They believe their towns, communities and schools are suffering from ‘culture rot’ that has invaded from the outside,” the 30-page analysis said. “The central focus here is homosexuality, but also the decline of homogenous small towns. They like the Tea Party because they stand up to the Democrats.”

Evangelicals are a third of the GOP base, the report said. More than three-quarters are married. More than 90 percent are white and older. Eighty percent vote only Republican. And like the other factions, they can’t stand President Obama, labeling him as a “liar” who panders to middle-class worries.
“I think that his picture of the people in this room would be that we’re all a bunch of racist, gun-clinging, flyover state, cowboy hat-wearing yokels—because we didn’t go to Harvard, and we’re not from New York, and we’re pretty white, we’re pretty middle-class,” said one man in Roanoke, Virginia. “We’re going to be in a very politically incorrect minority very soon,” added another, objecting to how the mainstream culture supports gays, schools allow same-sex teenagers to hold hands, and the political left beats up on them for anti-gay beliefs.

The notion that their corner of American life—described by a Virginian as “a little bubble”—is under attack extends to feeling “invaded” by immigrants, and taking offense that they have to tell their phones to talk to them in English, not Spanish. “Don’t come here and make me speak your language,” another man said.
Tea Party radicalism is misunderstood: Meet the “Newest Right”

Our sense of the force currently paralyzing the government is full of misconceptions--including what to call it

By Michael Lind
When the post-Civil War system broke down during the Civil Rights Revolution of the 1950s and 1960s, the South’s local notable class and its Northern and Western allies unexpectedly won a temporary three-decade reprieve, thanks to the “Reagan Democrats.” From the 1970s to the 2000s, white working-class voters alienated from the Democratic Party by civil rights and cultural liberalism made possible Republican presidential dominance from Reagan to George W. Bush and Republican dominance of Congress from 1994 to 2008. Because their politicians dominated the federal government much of the time, the conservative notables were less threatened by federal power, and some of them, like the second Bush, could even imagine a “governing conservatism” which, I have argued, sought to “Southernize” the entire U.S.

But then, by the 2000s, demography destroyed the temporary Nixon-to-Bush conservative majority (although conceivably it could enjoy an illusory Indian summer if Republicans pick up the Senate and retain the House in 2016). Absent ever-growing shares of the white vote, in the long run the Republican Party cannot win without attracting more black and Latino support.

That may well happen, in the long run. But right now most conservative white local notables in the South and elsewhere in the country don’t want black and Latino support. They would rather disenfranchise blacks and Latinos than compete for their votes. And they would rather dismantle the federal government than surrender their local power and privilege.

The political strategy of the Newest Right, then, is simply a new strategy for the very old, chiefly-Southern Jefferson-Jackson right. It is a perfectly rational strategy, given its goal: maximizing the political power and wealth of white local notables who find themselves living in states, and eventually a nation, with present or potential nonwhite majorities.

Christian delusions are driving the GOP insane

Why aren't Republicans more frightened of a shutdown and a default? Part of the reason is magical thinking

By Amanda Marcotte
The press often talks about the Tea Party like they’re secularist movement that is interested mainly in promoting “fiscal conservatism”, a vague notion that never actually seems to make good on the promise to save taxpayer money. The reality is much different: The Tea Party is actually driven primarily by fundamentalist Christians whose penchant for magical thinking and belief that they’re being guided by divine forces makes it tough for them to see the real world as it is.

It’s not just that the rogue’s gallery of congress people who are pushing the hardest for hostage-taking as a negotiation tactic also happens to be a bench full of Bible thumpers. Pew Research shows that people who align with the Tea Party are more likely to not only agree with the views of religious conservatives, but are likely to cite religious belief as their prime motivation for their political views. White evangelicals are the religious group most likely to approve of the Tea Party. Looking over the data, it becomes evident that the “Tea Party” is just a new name for the same old white fundamentalists who would rather burn this country to the ground than share it with everyone else, and this latest power play from the Republicans is, in essence, a move from that demographic to assert their “right” to control the country, even if their politicians aren’t in power.

It’s no surprise, under the circumstances, that a movement controlled by fundamentalist Christians would be oblivious to the very real dangers that their actions present. Fundamentalist religion is extremely good at convincing its followers to be more afraid of imaginary threats than real ones, and to engage in downright magical thinking about the possibility that their own choices could work out very badly. When you believe that forcing the government into default in an attempt to derail Obamacare is the Lord’s work, it’s very difficult for you to see that it could have very real, negative effects.

It’s hard for the Christian fundamentalists who run the Republican Party now to worry about the serious economic danger they’re putting the world in, because they are swept up in worrying that President Obama is an agent of the devil and that the world is on the verge of mayhem and apocalypse if they don’t “stop” him somehow, presumably be derailing the Affordable Care Act. Christian conservatives such as Ellis Washington are running around telling each other that the ACA will lead to “the systematic genocide of the weak, minorities, enfeebled, the elderly and political enemies of the God-state.” Twenty percent of Republicans believe Obama is the Antichrist. Washington Times columnist Jeffrey Kuhner argued that Obama is using his signature health care legislation to promote “the destruction of the family, Christian culture,” and demanded that Christians “need to engage in peaceful civil disobedience against President Obama’s signature health care law.”
"Neo-Confederate insurrectionists" isn't just rhetoric, as the flag-waving teabagger below demonstrated. The Republican Tea Party literally champions a Southern white Christian power structure where minorities are second-class citizens.

How Republicans became racists

How Racism Caused The Shutdown

By Zack BeauchampBy the Johnson-Goldwater election, it had become clear that overt racism and segregationism was politically doomed. Brown v. Board of Education and LBJ’s support for the 1964 Civil Rights Act saw to that. As this scary recognition dawned on Southern whites, they began searching for a new vehicle through which to shield themselves and their communities from the consequences of integration. The young conservative movement’s ringing endorsement of a minimalist federal government did the trick—it provided an on-face racially neutral language by which Southerners could argue against federal action aimed at integrating lily-white schools and neighborhoods.

Kevin Kruse, a Princeton historian whose work focuses on the South and the conservative movement, finds deep roots in segregationist thought for this turn. “In their own minds, segregationists were instead fighting for rights of their own,” Kruse suggests. These “rights” included “the ‘right’ to select their neighbors, their employees, and their children’s classmates, the ‘right’ to do as they pleased with their private property and personal businesses, and, perhaps, most important, the ‘right’ to remain free from what they saw as dangerous encroachments by the federal government.”
Modern GOP is still the party of Dixie

How the South poisons American conservatism and sabotages our politics

By Kim Messick
For black Americans slavery was a holocaust and a nightmare. For white Southerners it meant (among other things) living intimately with millions of human beings who were permanent outsiders—persons whose natural incapacities, as the white South saw them, meant they could never be trustworthy members of the community. For white supremacists, citizenship had one very definite condition of entry: white skin, and the potential for moral personality that came with it. The racial divide defined the difference between civilized society and the enthralled barbarism that lay beyond and beneath it.

It would be hard to overstate the influence of this experience on the mind of the South. For one thing, it meant that the white South was, in effect, a garrison state. White Southerners lived in close proximity to a large population they routinely abused, terrorized and defiled. Fear of black violence and revolt is a constant theme of white society before and after the Civil War. The South’s noisily martial version of patriotism has its roots here, as does the region’s love affair with guns. And there are obvious connections between these facts and its stubborn embrace of patriarchy and misogyny. (Does the name “Todd Akin” ring any bells?)

Of greater relevance to our present concerns, however, are the implications for the South’s political psychology. Here the region’s history as a slave society left a very particular imprint, one that lingered long after slavery and Jim Crow collapsed. I mean the habit of imagining society as a two-tiered structure, with the “normative” community on top and a degenerate class of outsiders below. The former consists of those who satisfy the prerequisites of citizenship, and can therefore be trusted to fulfill the social contract voluntarily; the latter of those whose inherent debilities ensure that coercion is the only reliable guarantee of cooperation.
This is a fraught subject, so I want to make my meaning clear. I am not arguing that all Southerners—or all conservatives—are racists or paranoids; I’m not even arguing that all Southerners are conservatives. (I myself would personally disprove that assertion.) Slavery, thankfully, disappeared long ago, and Jim Crow is now almost two generations behind us. Racism lingers on in the South as in America generally, but for the most part must now keep its head down and its voice low; it’s the vice that dare not speak its name. (This is not to deny, of course, that it retains considerable social valence.) What I am arguing is that a certain habit of thought, powerfully shaped by the experience of slavery, survived the passage of that curse and continues to influence some Southern conservatives to this day. It no longer takes the form of a blatant assertion that only the white race is worthy of social trust; its definition of the normative community has shifted. (Though it remains associated with racialist, or at least race-conscious, themes.) It is now more likely to define that community in ideological terms—to see it as consisting of those who endorse a particular view of government and its rightful relations with traditional mores and economic power. It has, however, retained certain aspects of its earlier, darker origins. It is still obsessed with purity—ideological if not racial—and still invests those it regards as impure with a harsh, acute animus. And it continues to equate difference with illegitimacy. Those on the outside—the liberals, the Democrats, the “socialists”—cannot be trusted partners in political life; they want only to undermine our institutions and must therefore be expelled from them.Tea party wants to take America back--to the 18th century

Their ultimate destination appears to be the 1780s and our dysfunctional government under the Articles of Confederation.

By Joseph J. Ellis
Clearly, most of the tea party radicals in the House of Representatives come from gerrymandered districts, which function as cocoons that resist penetration by alien ideas, like Keynesian economics, Darwinian evolution, global warming and yes, the potential popularity of Obamacare. They live in a parallel universe in which a rejection of any robust expression of government power is an unquestioned and unexamined article of faith.

Where does this irrational but obviously deep-felt impulse come from? Talk radio and Fox News obviously feed the beast. But the seminal convictions of the tea partiers defy any modern conceptions of government power. How far back in history do they want to take us?

My initial impression was that they wanted to repeal the 20th century. Radical Republicans of the tea party persuasion object to all federal programs that have an impact on our daily lives, including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the Federal Reserve Board. Even though tea partiers, like all the rest of us, are beneficiaries of these federal programs, especially Medicare and Social Security, ideology trumps self-interest in their worldview, though one wonders how they would respond if they had their way and their Social Security checks stopped coming.

Now, I believe these radicals want to go even further back in time. Though it wouldn't be fair to pin a defense of slavery on them, they agree with the states' rights agenda of the Confederacy and resist the right of the federal government to make domestic policy, which is their visceral reason for loathing Obamacare.

But their ultimate destination, I believe, is the 1780s and our dysfunctional government under the Articles of Confederation. The states were sovereign in that post-revolutionary arrangement, and the federal government was virtually powerless. That is political paradise for the tea partiers, who might take comfort in the fact that their 18th century counterparts also refused to fund the national debt. Their core convictions are pre-Great Society, pre-New Deal, pre-Keynes, pre-Freud, pre-Darwin and pre-Constitution.

For more on conservative racism, see Shutdown = White Minority Asserting Power and "Defund Obamacare" = "Nigger, Nigger."

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