Saturday, August 30, 2008

DNC Day 5 - Breaking News - Sarah Palin as VP

I'm still a bit groggy from all the energy and excitement from yesterday's events at the Democratic National Convention.

I'm watching CNN right now and it seems that the Republicans have decided to make major history this election, by not just picking a woman for Vice President, but bringing together the first Father -Daughter Ticket in History!!!! (joke via Rashne)

The media was right, John McCain did pick someone younger than him. Although given all the possible names out there on the national scene, there weren't many people whom he could pick who aren't younger than he is, and in fact three of those names come from either Alaska or Alaska's biggest ally in the Senate, Hawai'i, Senator Ted Stevens, Senator Daniel Innouye and Senator Daniel Akaka. McCain had to pick someone younger than him, unless he was planning to exhume Ronald Reagan and create some elaborate Weekend at Bernie's farce over the next few months.

I'm looking at McCain and Governor Palin on stage right now, and they could be a Grandfather - Granddaughter ticket.

My first insights into this choice, without knowing too much about the Alaska Governor are that this will be first an attempt to split the Democratic party. I just heard Republican pundit Amy Holmes talk about Palin's economic executive experience as Governor of Alaska, but if they really wanted someone with those credentials, then they should have picked someone who really surpassed Obama in that regard, instead of barely beat. People complain about Obama's limited experience in the Senate, but Palin has only been a Governor for two years. That's about as weak an argument as you can make. Obviously, the choice is meant to draw away some of white women voters out there who heavily favored Clinton, and might eventually gravitate towards Obama.

The second insight is the race issue. Some of the pundits have speculated on a debate between Biden and Palin. Earlier in the week, Biden was heavily favored to "win" any debate, but now there is apprehension, because by throwing a woman into the mix (regardless of how good or articulate a speaker she is), just by defualt you have an easy arrangement for creating Biden as a bully and Palin as the victim. I don't know who will talk about this first, but this plays perfectly into Charles Barkley's statement the other night, that this election will come down to how racist white people are.

Nearly everyone will make themselves more inclusive, or less racist when they are polled or interviewed, but what this race will come down to is whether or not white people can "open their hearts" up to "trust a black man." By throwing a white woman into the final four people who will be fighting over the Presidency, McCain can now hope that the racist history of the United States, the racial hatred, discomfort, distrust and loathing that has animated the country for centuries will be activated. This history can be found in attacks on black men, Native Americans and Asian Americans, Latin Americans, to protect white women's sexuality.

We saw a small shred of this in the 2006 elections where an attack ad on Harold Ford Jr. featured a sexualized white woman who was telling him to "call her." The ad created a massive uproar, and Ford lost the election for Senator of Tennessee.

For those of you who think that those days of white lynch mobs killed black men for looking at a white woman the wrong way, you should be "shocked" to hear that just last month, a Latino man in Shenandoah, Pennslyvania was beaten to death by four white teenagers just for walking around with his wife's sister, a white woman.

For a country which lives to deny its violent and racist history, it takes so little to activate that racism, that legacy of repression, displacement, colonization and exploitation. I sincerely hope, but wouldn't bet on it, that McCain's campaign is not counting on this racism that is hardwired into white Americans, to help their campaign of making America distrust and fear Barack Obama. I should note that, although John McCain may not directly make these sorts of comments, he can still profit from them and help create the conditions so that it does take place, so that this racial animus is "fired up and ready to go." It is in a similar way that Obama profits, through some of the stuff he says, but more so the language he uses in his rhetoric to paint his vision of America as one which is beyond its violent racist history. Obama has been propelled onto the national scene, by that desire to get past that history, without really dealing with it, by simply resolving it by the casting of a vote.

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