The most dangerous dog, as the saying goes, is the one backed into a corner. With the Republican campaign in obvious disarray, and the electoral map growing bluer by the day (perhaps because Americans have reverted to toddler-tantrums and are now holding their breath until they get their way), Sarah Palin’s Pit Bulls are cornered. And they’re snarling.
The Alaskan governor, added to the ticket because cocky McCain operatives believed anyone with XX chromosomes could vie for Hillary Clinton’s supporters, has proved as incapable of swinging women voters as she has of telling Katie Couric how Alaska’s proximity to Russia qualifies as foreign policy experience. Her only traction comes from the conservative base, and thus, she has been redeployed to the heartland, where warmed-over attacks on Obama’s tenuous connections to Bill Ayers still spark fire.
It should come as no shock that Palin’s rallies have gotten ugly. Everything she stands for is ugly, from her abuse of executive power (confirmed by the bipartisan panel investigating Troopergate) to the ease with which she distorts the public record (her own and others). But even given the level of national tension, given the rancor endemic to late-stage presidential campaigns, the recent reports of crowd members calling for Obama’s death go beyond the pale.
Outbursts like those we’ve seen in recent weeks-including the racial epithets shouted at a black cameraman- are not spontaneous. They are the result of a constant campaign of polarization, an endless barrage of misinformation.
And when the time is ripe, “everyone” knows who is “ruining” America: blacks and Jews with their secret radical agendas; gays who want rights; immigrants stealing American jobs; liberals who want to outlaw guns and religion and mandate abortions; and of course, greedy Wall Street fat cats-despite the two hundred million dollar tax cut McCain-Palin want to give them.
Many have sounded alarms, warning that this is how fascism starts. Those alarms do need to be sounded, something even the morally defunct McCain campaign acknowledged when the Senator called for his supporters to tone down things down. But fascism starts well before political rallies turn bloodthirsty and the political pit bulls snarl.
Ignorant rally-goers stoked by the negativity of a fever-pitch campaign are an easy target. And certainly, we need to be militant against hate speech whenever and wherever it is heard. But if we focus on the foot soldiers, we will fail to pull back the curtain on the generals and military strategists running the ‘culture war.’
They are not Joe Sixpack and his Hockey Mom wife, and they don’t live on Main Street. They are hatemongering pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. More importantly, they are politicians like John McCain, who depend on “experts” like the aforementioned to convince Americans that the country has been overrun by liberals- despite eight years of George W. Bush and his disastrous policies.
Or Sarah Palin, who may not be able to tell Katie Couric what newspapers she reads, but now that she’s cornered, will say anything to work her pit bulls into an angry, racist frenzy.