In a week that
saw an unjustified protest against the President of the United
States addressing school children, and a congressman’s
vulgar breech of protocol in a joint session of Congress on health
care reform, we were offered a sharp view of the realities of creating
an ideological divide in this nation. Such
a divide is spurred by a fervent desire to undermine the popularity
of America’s first “pop culture” president. Aside
from the ideological divide, a racial subtext and a popular backlash,
the Republican Party has no real reason to support Barack Obama
- other than the fact that he is President of the United States - the leader
of our nation and the standard bearer of our democracy. Still
that isn’t enough for some people to respect Barack Obama or the
Office of Presidency. The vulgarity of the protest around health
care - seeking to “Hitler-ize” the President, claiming he is trying
to “socialize” America.
This is compounded by talk radio and partisan pundit pounding anti-Obama
sentiment. The culmination of which was Joe Wilson’s “you lie” outburst,
demonstrating a higher level of disrespect of an America President than can be recalled in recent
memory. This represents a new type of propaganda war, all in an
effort to combat Obama’s cultural popularity.
The popularity of President
Barack Obama is far beyond anything America
has seen since Franklin D. Roosevelt. Obama is rock star popular,
a cultural icon that youth and parents alike have up on their walls.
Usually the only demand for the U.S. President’s photo is reserved
for government office buildings. For this President, it’s teens,
hip-hoppers and the fad driven. Anything with Obama’s photo is worn,
posted, painted or plastered wherever it can be seen. Like Andy
Warhol paintings, psychedelic Obama renderings are a sign of the
times. That’s a problem for political ideologues use to creating
popular thought and popularity for the mundane politician that young
people never give the time of day. The American public, the one
outside the ideological, anti-intellectual influence, is looking
to President Obama to save the world. Literally. And President Obama
has, in the opinion of many, tried to oblige them.
of trying to help the President resolve the mess they were largely
responsible for creating, the Republicans have taken an obstructionist
posture to intercede and intercept any new ideas and proposed solutions
that might come out of Obama’s new approach to government. The American
public is ready for change, and ready to give the President the
time he needs to make the changes we need. However, the defeated
party in the last election has decided to use this period of hope
and optimism as an opportunity to retool an old message and refuel
some old modalities. They claim it’s for the good of the nation,
but it is really for the purpose of mass distraction - a detraction
from the perception that the “Obama effect” can do what the previous
administration wasn’t able to, regain the confidence of the country.
Their opposition is to ideas they never tried, and to economic realities
they never faced. Yet, their decision to play politics with the
fate of the economy is somehow worth chipping away at Obama’s popularity.
It gets worse…
Just as President Obama seeks
to cast a new image for government, beyond being the first black
President, and tp project a new aspect of respect for the Presidency
that had lost some of its shine in the last administration, ideologues
use the spotlight of Obama’s huge popularity to try to embarrass
the President in a vulgar attack of their opposition to his policy
initiatives. Wilson’s outburst
took on a “massive resistance” kind of flavor. The kind that every
black man faced back in the day when they tried to explain to a
mob why he owned the property he owned, or why he was in the space
he was in - not reserved for him. There was always one person in
the mob who ignited the spark. “You lie” equates to “the Ni**ers
lyin’” in another period, or “get em, boys” in yet another. Congressman
Joe Wilson was the one holdin’ the rope in a previous period. Only
what was popular in a vulgar culture of America’s past, didn’t play
out this time around. For as Wilson
put out his “you lie” call, he forgot where he was, and who he was
doing it to. He “hooted” and nobody else followed. Their animus
for Obama wasn’t greater than their respect for the office of the
President of the United States, regardless
of who holds the office or whether they liked his views. Still,
we got to see where some people are in their perception of reality.
The world they thought once was, is no longer to be. And thank God
that is, in fact, the case. The new propaganda war hasn’t led to
the conflict of ideas that those in America’s past had led to.
Popular culture is trumping race and vulgar ideology for the time
Still, we stop to acknowledge
that a populist resistance is still holding on…to prevent a culture
shift the country so badly needs, to rebuke America’s
new propaganda wars.
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Bill Fletcher, Jr.
Est. April 5, 2002
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