So, yes, I had to tune into the Republican convention to see what hymns and songbook they’d be singing from.  Not surprisingly, it was a night of negativity, the likes of which I don’t think I’d ever seen.  I mean, really: It’s one thing when–as was the case in 2004–it’s two white guys going at each other.  However, because there’s an African American in contention this year, the dynamics of race and class are working on multiple and, yes, nasty levels.

As one pundit on CNN put it, we’re back to the culture wars.  The Republicans want their constituents to believe that it’s the urban centers vs. the rural enclaves.  It’s a simplistic world view.  And by that I mean that we’ve really got to be comfortable dealing with more nuance.  The world is a highly complicated place and to continue looking backwards does none of us any good: Jobs will continue to flee overseas, we’ll still lag the world in science and math, and the environment will continue to be ravaged, and Bin Laden will continue to drop mixtapes.

Last night was disheartening.  I didn’t see Huckabee or Romney speak.  What I saw was Guiliani and Palin.  And instead of addressing real issues that impact us all–the economy, the war–both of these attack dogs spent their time onstage condescending, ridiculing and blatantly distorting Obama’s positions.  The mostly white crowd lapped it up.  By their whooping, jeering and cheering for attacks on Obama, community organizers and all who would get involved in the political process at a grassroots level, they made it clear that they embrace only represent an isolationist, backwards-looking approach to being a 21st century member of the world community.  I mean, here’s who the Republican party chose to represent them in a complex world: A "hockey mom" who seriously considered banning books, someone who believes that teaching abstinence is a good idea even in the face of her teenage daughter turning up pregnant (VivirLatino nicely points out the double standards here); who brings a "frontier mentality" from the third least populous state in the Union; and who just got her passport about a 1.5 years ago.  Is this the type of person we really need to be second in command of the United States?  Isn’t Bush a similar "rural champion"?

Now, I’m not trying to disrespect hockey moms or people who live in small towns.  More to the point of yesterday’s show: When 10,000 people jeer and catcall Obama without giving serious arguments that speak to the issues at hand, I feel an incredible level of venom and disrespect.  Not just for Obama and his family, but for me and mine.  In some ways, I felt like I was watching a Klan rally because I didn’t feel like there was anyone in that hall that would’ve been empathetic to me.  What we saw was the resistance that Obama faces daily made visible and real.  And if there’s such an outright rejection of Obama–who I believe represents the best of us as African Americans and as Americans– then what does that mean for how they see me?  What does that mean for the rest of us? 

Clearly, the Republicans are about maintaining the status quo.  Their vision for a 21st century America is not one that is inclusive.  Their harping on "experience," "patriotism," "average Americans" and the like are all distractions.  As Connie Schultz of the Cleveland Plain Dealer pointed out, it’s "all code for race."  So, it’s sad to say, but as I watched the audience at the RNC convention last night, all I saw was scary white people.

Do I think my candidate is above reproach?  Hardly.  But this election–no, this country–cannot and must not turn on who’s more patriotic, who’s got more homespun values.  It can’t be about "Country First", which sounds suspiciously reminiscent of the first line of Das Lied der Deutschen, the German national anthem that was propagandized by the Nazis: "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles/Über alles in der Welt" (Germany, Germany above everything,/Above everything in the world).  Why can’t the McCain-Palin return the honor, integrity and focus on the issues that Obama-Biden offered them?  While I expected Republican hypocrisy (Eisa Ulen writes about this here), it’s dispiriting to think that there’s even a remote possibility that the country will–and in some cases, gladly–endure a continuation of the past 8 years.

It’s got to be about the future, not the past.  About participating in the global community versus being an isolationist and a bully.  About real inclusion and diversity.  About creating an environment in which we can all respectfully disagree and not be personally ridiculed, have our positions reduced to the absurd and called "un-American" simply because we have a different point of view. 

One idea from hip hop that Republicans should take to heart: No bitchass-ness.

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  • Thanks for the link! I forget if I wrote back to your email, I’m usually bad at that. 🙂 Do you also know Laronda, from Creative Unity & BRC?

  • No problem, Jay. It’s easy when the work is solid. Keep it up!

    Laronda and the BRC are family! A while back, I was PR director for the BRC, so I have a some good history with the organization. In fact, we’re all working on some stuff for CMJ, so stay tuned.

    Small world syndrome again!

  • amen! amen! amen!

    it is heartbreaking to see people still continue to embrace the policies of the last 8 years.

    I missed McCain’s speech but I didn’t miss Palin’s and I must say the stagecraft of presenting her myopia in such a genial package was convincing only if you are terrified of books and knowledge that doesn’t come from Fox News.

    what’s next?

    On to the debates….

  • That was excellent, Rob. You mentioned something that I thnk needs to be repeated:

    “I feel an incredible level of venom and disrespect. Not just for Obama and his family, but for me and mine. In some ways, I felt like I was watching a Klan rally because I didn’t feel like there was anyone in that hall that would’ve been empathetic to me. What we saw was the resistance that Obama faces daily made visible and real. And if there’s such an outright rejection of Obama–who I believe represents the best of us as African Americans and as Americans– then what does that mean for how they see me? What does that mean for the rest of us?”

    I think that for black folks on both sides of the border, this is important. Right now, it’s not even if you support Obama’s campgain or not, do black folks and other people of colour really want this party, a party that has clearly demonstrated their venom against black folks? We all knew that it was there but to this extent? Stop with the “Uppity Negro” Buul#$%t. I understand that the political process is a dirty one, but this has gone too far.

  • Iamnotstarjones,

    Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, people like that are dangerous because their charisma dazzles the world, all the while she gets to push conservative positions. Seems like confidence should enable you to be more open and less myopic. Unfortunately, “average American”, when applied to Palin, means someone who’s not a citizen of the world.

  • Thank you, Laina. I guess between Guiliani and Palin, I had the wind knocked out of me. And it was such a contrast with the Democratic event. Yes, there were attacks against McCain and the Republicans, but it was on the basis of policy and Congressional voting records. The Democrats didn’t get personal, they didn’t demean McCain. And how dare McCain extend an olive branch after the RNC attacked and belittled Obama and all of us who support him. The subtext is that we’re not patriotic. It’s too late for McCain to paint himself as inclusive when the rest of the Republican machine says otherwise.

    So, yeah, attacking Barack personally is attacking all of us.

    So much for running an honorable campaign.

  • stew

    i’m in europe and didn’t have a chance to luxuriate in the pageantry of hate from a safe distance on my couch, clutching my remote in horror. but when i have watched the RNC my favorite game was always “spot the negro.” the only thing i missed in your great post about “scary white people” was anything about the “scary black people” that surely must have been in attendance.
    I am black, left-wing and yet not a hater of black republicans. Why? Cuz i believe all races have a right to support stupid, evil, short-sighted parties. i just wish there would have been a reporter there who could have made a most compelling documentary: interviewing THE BLACK FOLKS AT THE RNC AT A TIME LIKE THIS. cuz let’s face it, if yer a black republican RIGHT NOW you must really mean it. or yer incredibly cynical.

  • HA HA HA. Great post! But I agree with Stew — the only thing worse are the “scary black people”!

  • Boston

    Even more frightening than the Black Republicans are the Black Hispanics(the majority in the US by the middle of this century). With the inane immigration policies shepherded through Capitol Hill by lost children of immigrants it’s hard to believe that any Latin person of sound mind would endorse the Republican Party at this day and time. I’ve had Latin folks who I think are incredibly sensible in most respects go on the warpath specifically against Obama in conversations and give the Republicans(or Hillary Clinton) a pass. They can’t tell me why they have issues with Obama, they just do. Right. Mind you I think the Democratic Party is not very appealing either…much respect and love to Obama for being a major part of history…except in a lesser evil fashion. The only way that Obama or anyone is going to be able to fully effect change is with a powerful and well-funded third party(throw a fourth one in there too willya). Bill Clinton was most effective while governing when he had the strange yet sometimes sensible policies and policing of Ross Perot looking over his shoulder. Someone has to be able to break the stalemate with a third perspective or vote. Still and all I’m doing my part to register voters and I know where and for whom I’ll be in early November.

  • Boston

    Oops. I meant Latin Republicans above. Time for sleep. 🙂

  • Robinlee

    Actually my lovely wife and I sat on the couch and watched the hate-fest(as “stew” so eloquently put it) “clutching our remote in horror,” and yes, I admit it: we were counting how many times they would show people of color…and also observing the multiple shots of the down syndrome baby, the pregnant teenage daughter and her boyfriend, and of course the goofy looking/acting hockey moms screaming “drill baby drill!” We did not see any log cabin Republicans though, but I’m sure that there were probably some skulking around in the mix. If the republicans think that Palin is any replacement for Hillary, then I think that they are sadly mistaken. Palin, with her “Tina Fey having a bad hair moment look” had lots of snark in her speech but not one ounce of soul. And I look forward to Biden chomping into her during the debates…