Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Face the Color of Sepulchers

The issue that matters in the forthcoming election is not about foreign policy or health care or, more generally, the choice between Neoliberalism and Social Democracy, though these and many other issues are in play. The great question of the day is about whether the United States will be an ethnic state dominated by white males or an inclusive state where everyone is welcome and citizenship depends upon allegiance to a set of ideas. If McCain, wins at a time when his party has made a mess of everything for the last eight years, the reason can only be that a decisive mass of Americans has opted for a racial definition of membership in the nation. It’s almost as if the Republicans, driven by an unconscious logic, have selected a candidate so obviously inferior in order to make things as clear as possible. Just as committed monarchists best show their principles by supporting the birthright of a moronic prince, nativist Conservatives want to make the point that even a senile mediocrity is preferable to a brilliant and dynamic black man so long as he is white. And McCain is perfect for that role.

I don’t mean to claim that there aren’t lots of other reasons that people will vote for McCain. If you are very well off, the Republican tax plan and hostility to unions will mean money in your pockets. The Republican foreign policy is also a meal ticket for a significant group of people. And there are plenty of non-racist innocents who continue to believe against all the evidence that the Republicans stand for small government, sound economic policies, and individual rights, though their actions mark them as cynical authoritarians. If there are any rational reasons to vote for McCain, however, they have to be balanced against the consequences of going down the road of culture war. White supremacy, which really means the dominance of a certain kind of white, has no future. Whitebread Americans are shortly going to be in the minority in this country, and the Republican policy of us versus them is going to look pretty foolish once the tables are turned and they decisively outnumber us. I suppose somebody might argue that the Call of the Blood really is more important than the merely rational appeal of Enlightenment ideals; but from a practical point of view, cultural politics is a dead end. A multi-cultural America may well fail, but a monochrome America is not possible and just saying never is a prescription for disaster. Voting Republican at this historical juncture is simply unpatriotic.