October 17, 2013

Obama = "trifecta of Otherness"

Inside the Conservative Brain: Why Tea Partiers Are Desperately Afraid

To understand how Tea Partiers view the world, you have to know how they see themselves.

By Lynn Stuart Parramore
The Tea Party is a fascinating case study for how these questions and ideas play out. Its members are bonded in anxiety and terror—a very powerful glue—over what America is becoming: something other than the “real America” they wish to belong to. Their America is white, Protestant and Anglo-Saxon (it’s no accident that the Right’s leading think tank is called the Heritage Foundation).

powell notes that while Tea Party members will tolerate a bit of diversity—the occasional Catholic or Jew—they primarily wish to protect the distinctiveness of their chosen group in the past, present and future. For them, someone like Obama represents the ultimate threat to maintaining this distinctiveness, the thing that makes them feel special. With his black/Muslim/immigrant associations he becomes the “trifecta of Otherness”—an unholy trinity that must be resisted at all costs. The Tea Partier perceives the President as the incarnation of a malevolent force that will take from them and give to Others. He is both the incarnation and the welcoming committee for the Stranger who doesn’t belong in America.

As an illustration, powell looks at how Tea Partiers feel about Social Security, which is coming under vigorous attack just as default has been avoided. When asked individually, powell finds that the Tea Partier likes the program a lot. But she only likes it for her own group—for people who have, in her view, “worked for it.” She doesn’t want the Others to have it because she doesn’t want to be connected to “Them.” “They” don’t work the way she does. “They” don’t care about America as she does. “They” don’t belong in America. This divide between the small group and the larger community can be leveraged by politicians who wish to sway them.

Because the government wants to extend Social Security to the Other, the government itself becomes the Big Other—an alien entity. If only “They" could be excluded from this otherwise excellent deal—as blacks and many women were excluded from Roosevelt’s original New Deal—then Social Security would have stronger support from the right.
Race is central to the fear and angst of the US right

By Gary YoungeSecond is the perceived beneficiaries of government spending. Republicans are more likely to regard intervention as being to support minorities rather than to support the poor. This goes not only for food stamps and welfare but also for Obamacare–which was the issue that initially sparked the shutdown.

“Obamacare is a racial flashpoint for many evangelical and Tea Party voters,” writes Greenberg. Their despair is largely rooted in the assumption that by championing programs that disproportionately help minorities, Obama is effectively buying votes and securing a growing tranche of the electorate who will for evermore be dependent on government. One participant, echoing the views of many, said: “Every minority group wants to say they have the right to something, and they don’t. It’s life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It doesn’t say happiness. You get to be alive and you get to be free. The rest of it’s just a pursuit … you’re not guaranteed happiness. You have to work for it.”

Finally, there is Obama–the black son of an African immigrant and white mother–who stands as an emblem for all this unease, personifying, in their minds, not only their political impotence today but their demographic irrelevance tomorrow. The word they’re most likely to use to describe him is “liar”. But their hostility goes beyond his policies and pronouncements to a deeply rooted suspicion of his authenticity.

“[There] is a sense of him being foreign, non-Christian, Muslim–and they wonder what really are his motives for the changes he is advancing.” As he moves into his second term, there is now an elision in the Republican mind between what they think he is (an immigrant, a fraudster, a non-American) and what they think he does (assist immigrants and fraudsters in contravention of American ideals).
No, America is not a Christian nation

Why is the Right so obsessed with pushing revisionist history?

By Amanda Marcotte
So why do conservative Christians care so much? Why is it so important to them to establish that rights come from God that they will make up imaginary liberals to argue the point with, rather than just move on?

Two reasons: One, this argument makes it easier for the right to actually restrict the number of rights they will accept that people have, all while pretending to be pro-rights. Two, it gives them an excuse to ignore the First Amendment and the well-established fact that the U.S. is, like France, a secular democracy and not a Christian theocracy.

What’s nice about the “rights come from God” theory is that it makes it easier to deny that new rights can be established. Since the 18th century, a lot of rights have been granted that didn’t exist back then: The right not to be enslaved, the right of all adults to vote, the right to have some time off from your job. Conservatives resisted each of these rights and continue on that path today, resisting more recently established rights, such as the right to be free from discrimination based on race, gender, or sexual orientation. By saying that God informed the Founding Fathers what rights there were, conservatives can claim that any rights that have been developed since then are illegitimate. Sure, it’s a lie, but it’s an awfully convenient one.
Comment:  For more on conservative racism, see Republicans Want to Restore Confederacy, Shutdown = White Minority Asserting Power, and "Defund Obamacare" = "Nigger, Nigger."

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