Game. Set. Match. I’m calling it right here and right now. I’m not personally supporting anyone. I’m just acknowledging the inevitable. Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States in a landslide.
Forget policies or politics. The Fact of Obama is real and continuously supports itself. Years from now, it will seem so obvious that it always was Obama that no one will believe that people didn’t understand that right away.
It’s not hard for me to imagine a scenario in which I would be writing a blog post griping about the stupid Iowa caucuses and saying that it gives a disproportionate advantage, even amongst Democrats, to rural counties thereby skewing the whole process to be more conservative. Implicit in this argument would be that there is a slight anti-urbanism, if not, yes, racism inherent to our nominating process. Supporting evident: No black person has won the Iowa caucuses. There was a certain undeniable truth about my cynicism. The larger point is still correct. But that cynicism is no longer entirely truthful.
That’s important. The Civil Rights movement made it improper to beat people just for being black; made it illegal to deny person a job based on their skin color. Still, there is a lot of racism one can do short of flattening someone with fire hose spray and sicing junk yard dogs on them. A polite version of those things is — admit it Conservatrons — an elemental essence of the “Movement Conservatism” that has dominated the American Polity since 1969.
Thing is, I believe that many Conservatives are not truly racist and realize that the soft racism of the Conservatron ascent was merely a Lite version of the repugnant beatings. Seeing Obama become President means that a black person truly can become President despite having society aligned against him; thereby making that alignment not 100 percent bad. For better, or worse, or whatever, the Fact of Obama is a catharsis for these people, for this bizarre strain of guilty racism that reigns in our Zeitgiest.
The Fact of Obama plays into an NPRish version of similar identity issues. The last twenty-years have seen a tremendous increase in white ethnic pride. Many people are singing and celebrating their hyphenated Americanism whether it is Swedish lutefisk, Irish beers, or the prevalence of Jews in the entertainment industry. Any reconnection to immigrant roots must come in degrees. Many of us are slightly torn between the means of “acting” Jewish, Italian, Czech, or whatever and the easiness of being that part of us that is American generica. As annoying as it is to hear about it, the issue of Obama’s “blackness” is a catharsis for this set. By the same token, the Fact of Obama is how I feel when the nice lady at work didn’t know where to put my copy of the Origami Xmas tree ornament she was giving to everyone because I didn’t have a McJesus Day stocking posted to my cube. Let me put it this way, no Bush ever had to deal with a weird moment like that. Surely, Obama did. Incredibly, the Fact of Obama is a catharsis for this strain of identity issue too. This minor differentness that is – admit it liberals – one of the reasons for the whole white ethnic pride resurgence thing.
For blacks and other not white folks Obama is the first truly non-white guy to be president. That may not mean much, but you’ll no longer say it hasn’t happened before.
This also fits into the ethos of the soon to be predominant Boomer echo generation. The primary distinction of these folks’ condition is a sort of enforced meritocracy based on an entire psychology of self-confidence. Basically, I think we are dealing with a generation that does not like to see any type of person NOT, at some point, bring home the trophy. The unprecedented nature of Obama’s candidacy is a natural for the good-natured mediocrity of today’s younglings.
More than any of us or our commentariot like to admit, America is vexed on issues of ethnicity, race and group identity. For too long this has been the energy the Conservatrons used to divide people who should naturally be opposed to their royalist economic agenda. The inherent badness of the Conservatron reign has released so many toxins into our polity that is has left America twisted and weird to the point that it’s scarcely recognizable. We’re the torturers for crying out loud! With each victory, the Fact of Obama provides a catharsis for this bizarre American identity angst and builds on itself. I believe that whoever the true Barrack Obama is long ago got out of the way of Fact of Barrack Obama. Obama’s occasional parsing, his absent votes, his subtle messages to Conservatrons like attaching Krugman are just ways to assure that no one gets too afraid of the Fact of Barrack Obama.
For policy fiends like myself this will transform into a true political moment if President Obama manages to extricate American forces from Iraq. Obama will have to direct this, and he’ll have to fend off the Conservatrons who are surely anticipating this as the moment to gut the Democratic uprising and turn back the clock to a reptilian Strength versus Weakness paradigm.
If Obama removes American troops from Iraq without causing chaos he will have delivered a fatal blow to Movement Conservatism. Still, President Obama will largely be a figurehead. It is up to a Democratic Congress to give him the correct legislation to sign. President Obama will sign a universal health care plan that covers everyone if the Democratic Congress delivers it to him. The size and make of the House and especially the Senate majorities, and their leadership battles, are the place to go for people who want to fight over the politics of the governing Democratic majority and not its personality.