Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Romney's Desperation

On the eve of the first presidential debate, with the polls showing Romney trailing and losing support, Republicans decided that their only hope of winning the election is to remind people that President Barack Obama is black and then hope for a racist reaction. They got Fox News to air a recording of Obama speaking in 2007 and to have the Fox commentators push the message that because Obama says he is concerned about the poor and minorities, he is bad for white people.

The video was nothing new. It was shown over and over by Fox during Obama's first presidential campaign. Obama responded to it, and the voters decided not to take the bait that Fox was dangling in front of them. America elected a black man.

One might think that Republicans would have something new to say this election because they can point to Obama's record as president and make their arguments. But apparently, having tried that and seen that it isn't working, Romney's supporters have decided to once again see if they can win the presidency by appealing to racists.

What does Romney have to say about this type of campaigning? So far he hasn't objected. He knows his campaign is in trouble, and he is willing to go along with whatever he is told might help. This does not prove that Romney is a racist. It just shows that he is willing to go along with the race-based strategy.

There shouldn't have been much doubt that this is how Romney would act. Way back when there were a dozen or so candidates in the Republican primaries, the insiders were always lined up on Romney's side. They weren't going to back someone who might show some independence and perhaps turn on them in the future on some issue or other. They wanted what they always want in a candidate – someone who will do what he is told.

The Republicans aren't the only ones who look for compliance above all else. That's what the Democrats were looking for, too, in 2008, which is why Obama spent his term as a senator doing little other than scratching backs. He knew that to get the Democrats to nominate him, the powerful and wealthy insiders of his party would have to be reassured that he would go along with their agenda. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that he responded to the fiscal crisis by bailing out powerful people and companies, that he hasn't prosecuted any of them for their crimes, and he hasn't done anything to reduce the concentration in the industries whose concentration helped cause the crisis. They are still too big to fail, and some of them have gotten bigger.

The most powerful dynamic in American politics, and probably all over the world, is personal relationships. The universal lubricant in politics is wealth. Powerful people use them both to perpetuate their positions. This happens not just at the presidential level, but all the way down to the local school boards and village governments. It happens in township political organizations. It happens on church and charity boards.

For the moment, Romney's rich and powerful backers are making a desperate effort to save his candidacy. But they aren't really worried. In a few weeks, regardless of which candidate wins, they will still have plenty of influence and power. And in a few weeks, the great majority of Americans will still feel shut out, which is why the racial campaigning failed against Obama in 2008 and why it will fail this time. People understand that the divide in America isn't Black against White – it is insiders and their money against everyone else. Sadly, neither major party has much to offer all the everyone elses.

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