By Bob Gaydos
Stay with me here. I’m going to try to connect the dots between the Supreme Court’s absurd decision on Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission and the on-the-face-of-it foolish view of many poor to middle-class white Americans that the Republican Party represents the best hope for their future and the future of America, which is why they intend to vote for Mitt Romney.
The journey will visit the wild frontier of the birthers, the loony world of Jeremiah Wright, the penthouses of the billionaire super PACS, the righteous kingdom of Rick Santorum, the go-back-where-you-came-from land of Mitt Romney, W’s fantasy factory, the Civil War, Montana, the Occupy Movement and “welfare queens.”
Yes, racism is bound to come up.
Citizens United, of course, is the 5-4 ruling that gave corporations the same rights as individuals in donating to political action committees. They can give as much as they want and the super PACs created by this free-flowing stream of wealth can mount massive media campaigns, not so much to promote their candidate as to steamroller the opponents. This was evident in the street fight that recently passed for a Republican presidential primary. It amounted to dueling super PAC campaigns in various states. Romney won because he had the most money, not because more Republican voters liked him. They still can’t stand him. They just fear Barack Obama (photo) more.
Which is Dot Number One. This was made clear when the first thing conservative Republicans in Congress said upon Obama’s election was that they would dedicate the next four years to making sure he served only one term. Instead of, you know, we’ll try to work with him in governing the country so that maybe he’ll understand where we differ, etc.
So we have had a string of “no” votes on anything Obama proposed, public officials (and the ridiculous Donald Trump) questioning whether the president was really born in the United States even after being shown a copy of his birth certificate, innuendo that he was a Muslim (because of his name) and, just recently again, efforts to link him with his freaky former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
The Wright red herring was eliminated, or so we thought, four years ago, but one of those super-rich PACs recently tried to launch a TV campaign making the false link again. This time the behind-the-scenes directors were going to hire a well-spoken conservative black conservative to attack Obama, a well-spoken black non-conservative. You know, to prove that it was not a racially motivated effort. Romney got shamed into sort of denouncing this plan.
The Trump birther campaign was dug up in Arizona, naturally, when the secretary of state of that forlorn place said he might keep the president off the ballot this year if he did not get proof he was born in this country. The fact that he’s been running it for three-and-a-half years apparently didn’t matter, not when you can stir up resentments among some white voters.
Make no mistake, fear and resentment are at the crux of much of the Republican campaign against Obama. As much as they may argue that the campaign is about the economy and even though working class whites reportedly favor Romney over Obama by nearly two to one when asked who would be best for their financial interests, common sense says that many of those people understand that lowering taxes on the rich, making college loans more expensive and making affordable health care harder to get is not a plan that helps their interests.
So something else is influencing their vote.
It was not a fluke that Rick Santorum’s campaign gathered momentum when he started speaking out against gay marriage, against women’s contraceptive rights, against welfare for blacks. That’s right. Of course, this was only done in safely white enclaves, like Sioux City, Iowa. Santorum told a mostly white campaign rally there: "I don't want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money." He got cheers.
Now, the population of Sioux City is 2.9 percent black. Food stamp use in the area is up more than 25 percent in the last five years, with white recipients outnumbering blacks nine to one. So, what was his message, hope or resentment?
Romney, of course, has tried to portray Obama as responsible for encouraging a free flow of undocumented people across the border with Mexico. But Obama has supported strong enforcement along the border and deportation of undesirable illegals. He does support a plan to allow millions already in this country and contributing to the community to follow a path to citizenship, but so did George W. Bush. He just never had the guts to stick with his instincts in this matter.
This kind of color-coded campaigning began for Republicans in the South under President Richard Nixon and has steadily drawn older, white, poor and middle class voters away from Democrats, who have tended to disparage and dismiss the defectors rather than acknowledging their religious and cultural differences and trying to come to some agreement on economic issues. In the end, that might well be a losing effort. More to the point, it may be an unnecessary one.
Republicans, who came to power in this country leading the fight to end slavery, appear to have come down on the wrong side of history in several areas in their simple-minded effort to regain control of the government and the rewards that entails. Gay marriage is an obvious one example. In the near future, the whole white vs. black scare strategy will also be outdated. Latest census figures revealed that, for the first time in U.S. history, nonwhite babies outnumbered white babies. If the minorities abide by the conservatives’ pro-life, no-contraceptives philosophy so ardently espoused by Romney, Santorum et al, minorities will soon be a majority in America. Mixed race marriages will join same-gender marriages as routine. Immigrants of every stripe will continue to become part of the fabric of America and gain more positions of influence. Younger voters -- like those leading the Occupy movement -- will recognize what the super PACs and super banks have tried to do by throwing tons of money at politicians who will spread whatever message they want, whether it makes sense or not, as long as it keeps government out of their affairs.
And, oh yes, the Montana Supreme Court recently rejected the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, saying that longstanding Montana law supersedes it. Other states are joining the legal fight. Even some conservative Republicans are beginning to doubt the wisdom of giving all that power to unregulated rich people.
Which sort of describes Mitt Romney.