The ugliness during the Republican primary in Florida provided us a front-row seat in the arena of negative electioneering that has become a hallmark of the 2012 Republican campaign. To say it has been uglier in the past doesn’t excuse it.
It will get worse when Republicans vs. Republicans turn their vicious and ugly campaign against Barack Obama, as Republicans train their sights on just a single target: the president.
It began to emerge in Iowa. There was not much in New Hampshire. And then full-throated negative explosions erupted in South Carolina and Florida.
Gingrich clearly signals he does not intend to stand back from the abyss he helped create. He has become “The Speaker of the House of Campaign 2012 Negativity.”
In 2008, after a very bloody fight in the Democratic primary between Obama and Clinton, both sides were able to hold their noses and still shake hands. There is no indication at this hour that this strategy of cooperative support exists among the Republican contenders.
Ron Paul will stay the course (in his attempt to influence the choice of candidate and party planks). Santorum with his emphasis on culture war issues is finally finding out he isn’t the soul of the Republican Party. Gingrich is too much in love with attention and hunting for a big post-campaign lobbying or nonprofit job to think of the Republican Party or put conservative principles first.
Both Democrats and Republicans rely on Super PACS (Political Action Committees) while holding to the fiction that their candidates have no contact with them. Funds raised by the Super PAC supporting Romney clearly indicate that big conservative money in America is prepared to underwrite this PAC’s negative, political juggernaut.
Some say that after the Republicans have finished bloodying and annihilating each other, President Barack Obama will have a cakewalk to re-election. We in this column are not so sure it will be that easy.
An example of this troubling and dangerous pattern of negative campaigning is the call by the Republican Speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives, Mitch O’Neal, citing Biblical scripture (Psalm 109), calling for the death of the president. This is not Billy Bob sitting in his basement with a six-pack of beer throwing darts at a picture of Barack Obama. This is a man who presides over the Kansas legislature.
Another example is the editorial by the owner of the Atlanta Jewish World News newspaper calling for President Barack Obama to be assassinated by Israeli agents as an option for saving Israel.
Later apologies don’t take away the fact that these were serious statements comprised of dangerous rhetoric. Worse, they are statements of belief. It is the kind of rhetoric that drives some (and it doesn’t take many) to take political matters into their own hands.
Black America has suffered through the assassinations of Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., and far too many others, including JFK and RFK. Black America suffered through the pain and the loss of those giants. Far too many political and religious conservatives who enjoy significant positions, prestige and power stand silent on this dangerous rhetoric from the Republican right.
Doesn’t matter. Our concern is how the negative campaigns of either party impact what is more important: allowing all African Americans to sit at the education, jobs and housing tables.
Blacks continue to unduly suffer due to the purposeful barriers to access and opportunity for African Americans in terms of the “Big 3” areas of Nellie Stone Johnson: good education, jobs and housing (see our columns on purposeful employment non-compliance). This has both victims and victimizers on the downward slope of what Thurgood Marshall called “nullification” and “reversal” of progress made in terms of denied access and opportunity based on race.
The source of prosperity for people and the overall economy is jobs. Policies allowing mortgages backed with government guarantees only bring prosperity to banks.
Policy should support creating jobs to enable earnings to facilitate home buying, not raising barriers to jobs. Job policies are needed, not new ways to spend money that doesn’t exist for people without jobs and without money to repay loans.
It is tragic that this discussion has to take place during Black History Month. Who will stop the right-wing train of nullification and reversal regarding race as it thunders down the tracks away from the notion of the America Dream for all?
Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm; hosts “Black Focus” on Blog Talk radio Sundays at 3 pm; and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!” Saturdays at 4 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers for community planning and development and “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.