Today, hopefully, millions of Americans are going to the polls to elect their next President. Although the vote is restricted to just citizens of the United States, it’s impact is felt in every corner of the globe. Which is why the rest of the world follows our politics with such zeal.
This election year has been a tense, fraught affair between two moderates. As an American voter, you may not agree with such a statement given the hyperbole that has surrounded this election, but it is true. What is different is the adoption of extreme rhetoric, mainly from the right, or more specifically, the Tea Party and its denizens. This group of people, with their millions in funding from right-wing stalwarts such as the Koch brothers, have taken the discourse in this country to a new low. To me, it seems that the Tea Party are not interested in debate, freedom of speech, or other guarantees of the Constitution if it interferes with their world view. Compromise and honest disagreements are words not in their vocabulary. Their vitriol is to such an extent that I actually worry about a possible assassination attempt on Barack Obama if he is re-elected by these extremists (there are numerous examples of tea partiers who have intimated that an attack just might happen, so its not just my alarmist view).
I have spent a lot of time, perhaps too much time wondering why the Tea Party are so disrespectful of the current President, much more so than those of us on the left who were not in favor of George W. Bush (most leftists initially supported his war cries for Afghanistan and Iraq, the cost of which, ironically, has built much of the national debt the Tea Party rail against) I thought that the Tea Party was a creation of the Koch and Fox News empires as a way to constantly bash any administration that simply doesn’t agree with them. But then, the real reason hit me, I didn’t like it, didn’t realize what has really become so obvious, that the Tea Party are a product of the changing demographic of our nation; The Tea Party represents “A Cracker’s Last Stand.”
Now full disclosure, I, myself, am a “cracker” and an American one who resides in the UK. Many of my Scottish friends ask me why the country is not as in love with Obama as the rest of the world are. Instead of focusing on policy, I find that my answer relies of the changing face of America, and the fear those changes are having on a predominantly white population. It’s not just old fashioned racism thats at work here, but the fear that, for millions of white voters, they are no longer the deciders in national elections. I was told recently that 2012 will represent the last election where the white voter will be a majority. I haven’t found any evidence to support this, but the Brookings institute has shown that the percentage of white voters has decreased in every election this century. And, by 2050, the US will be predominantly a Hispanic nation.
So, I believe it is fear that drives the Tea Party and their message, fear that future Presidents will not be “like” them and thus represent “their” interests. It is unfounded of course, but fear is a powerful emotion, and I think it will take a few election cycles (and possibly the election of a conservative person of color). Now I’m sure many a republican will read this, scoff, and then provide all the reasons why Obama really is Hitler, a tax and spend liberal, and a partisan politician. But in my honest view, Obama governs as a left of center moderate, and that is probably just what the country needs right now.