it is time to decide. Do we feel that there is nothing particularly
different between Obama and McCain such that it does not matter
who wins, or, in the alternative, have we concluded that there is
enough that is different that we MUST cast our vote for Senator
In case you have not noticed,
i would suggest that we vote for Obama.
I do not want to repeat
some of the very strong arguments made as to why to support Obama--even
with reservations--that have been offered by others, including in
the pages of BlackCommentator.com. I believe that
it is completely legitimate to hold reservations, including significant
reservations, regarding an Obama presidency while at the same time
recognizing that it is essential for us to vote for him.
The piece that i do wish
to focus on, however, is the McCain/Palin ticket and the question
of "irrationalism." I did not think much about the political
Right and its tendency toward the irrational until, many years ago,
watching a documentary about human evolution where it became clear
that those who were attacking the theory of evolution were not just
attacking evolution, but were guided by a theory that was irrational.
The attack on human evolution was guided by fear, emotion, mysticism
and demagoguery, and was not seeking concrete and scientific answers
to the question of the development of humanity. It became further
clear that the attack on evolution was linked to a larger irrationalist
approach to politics and society that was representative of the
extreme political Right.
The McCain/Palin ticket
is an interesting coalition between what can be described as the
"corporate Right" [McCain] and the “right-wing populists”
[Palin]. While McCain is no enemy of opportunism and demagoguery,
Palin is driven by an ideological view that is probably quasi-fascist
in nature, and certainly is irrationalist. She is a proponent of
the myth of the small town (read: white, no minorities, reactionary);
an opponent of choice; has been aligned with white Alaskan separatists;
focuses the white working person on their "cultural" antagonism
with the so-called Eastern Elite; knows next to nothing about international
affairs but is prepared to bring us to the brink of war with Russia
and is a fanatically uncritical supporter of Israel.
It is important to understand
that McCain and Palin are not the same. This is not to let McCain
off the hook. To the contrary, for reasons of crude political opportunism
he made a decision that he had to ally with Palin both to energize
his base but also in a calculated appeal to women and independent
voters. Yet, his political objectives are not the same as Palin’s.
What Palin represents
is very dangerous, which is not to say that McCain is a pussy cat.
Palin represents the voice of a segment of white small business
and working people. It is the voice of those who believe that they
have been betrayed by a society that led them to believe that as
long as they were loyal to their whiteness and were oblivious to
what the USA did/does overseas (a perverse interpretation of patriotism)
that their lives and the lives of their children would improve.
While this was certainly true in a great many respects, since the
mid 1970s there has been a downhill slide for the average working
person in the USA in terms of living standard. Many white people
have interpreted this downhill slide as being the result of a betrayal
by the elite in favor of Jews, people of color, immigrants, gays
and lesbians, and women. These individuals have refused to accept
that there could be something toxic about the system and so they
go in search of enemies.
Palin speaks for these
individuals and she does so with a vengeance. For whatever weaknesses
she has, she is no idiot and neither are those who constitute her
mass base. Given this, progressives must pay serious attention
to not only defeating McCain/Palin but also neutralizing this base
(winning over who we can win over).
In that context, while
an Obama victory would not represent the fundamental defeat of the
political Right, it would represent a major setback for them. They
will quickly maneuver to recoup, but despite this there will be
some breathing room in which we can raise issues about economic
justice, racial justice, gender justice, the environment and war.
We can work at a feverish pace to further destabilize the political
Right and work towards the ACTUAL development of a progressive bloc
that goes well beyond the objectives and realities of an Obama presidency.
That said, we have to
start Tuesday by voting the right way. There is too much at stake
to do a protest vote. Yes, an oppressive system will remain irrespective
of who is elected on November 4th, but i would much rather have
some of our most dangerous enemies thrown off balance, if even for
a few moments, than have them sharpening their knives in glee.
Editor, Bill Fletcher, Jr., is the Executive Editor of BlackCommentator.com,
a Senior Scholar with the Institute
for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum
and co-author of the book, Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and
a New Path toward Social Justice
(University of California Press), which examines the
crisis of organized labor in the USA. Click here
to contact Mr. Fletcher.