Socialism is the New Black (Guest Voice)
This is the last of two Guest Voice columns on Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain’s insinuations that Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama has socialist inclinations. Author Martha Randolph Carl believes he does not — and that the word “socialist” has become a new code word. Guest Voice posts do not necessarily reflect the opinion of TMV or its many writers.
Socialism is the New Black
By Martha Randolph Carr
A conundrum was foisted on the Republican ballot this election go-round by the presence of an African-American on the top of the ticket. Barack Obama, who holds an overwhelming lead in the polls, made it harder for what had become a right-wing standard since the times of Lee Atwater. Throw as much mud in any direction and hope a lot of it sticks.
But fortunately it’s a lot tougher to use ethnic background as a starting point for why someone shouldn’t be the President of the United States. The days of Dixiecrat politicians openly using racial derivatives as a ploy to successfully get voters is over.
Apparently, religion is still fair game even if Obama, who is a Christian, is mistakenly called a Moslem. However, no one of any name recognition can be caught pulling out that trick.
The McCain camp is aware that religion is still a little too dicey and could end up carrying a very high price. What to do, what to do?
The answer they have dived on with glee is something Atwater would have applauded. Use a word that not everyone understands but has been connected enough to some pretty underhanded history and start lobbing that toward an opponent. Call Obama a Socialist.
Never mind that an accurate example of socialism economics is the present Republican administration’s plan to purchase ownership stakes in U.S. banks. At least, McCain has decided that’s an exception every time he’s been asked the obvious question. And we’re supposed to overlook the even newer plan to help bail out small mortgage owners and reassess their interest rates to something that’s manageable and will keep them in their homes.
Both of which, by the way, are really good plans that have the potential to actually lessen the amount of economic pain we may all be facing. But those don’t count so maybe that’s not what the word socialism is supposed to mean in this instance.
Lately, the word is picking up steam as a way for certain camps to remind the voters of Obama’s heritage as an African American and try to connect the two ideas. A clever new ploy to say the color of skin matters and can lead to dangerous paths. Some are working awfully hard to say, socialism has become the new black.
It’s like a grownup version of the old Ovaltine decoder ring that helped loyal viewers discover the hidden message. Be afraid of Obama because he’s not just like us, wink, wink.
Instead, whip out the word socialist to divert, confuse and inspire fear in the voters. Ah, at last, an insult that might work even if it has no basis in fact.
Let me translate this one for voters. The manipulation is to get us to look at Obama and see someone who may not act in the best interests of anyone who doesn’t look just like him. Maybe if the fear creeps in just enough we won’t look at his proposals in detail and realize that there are tangible tax breaks for small to mid-size business owners. Tax breaks that are plausible even in our present circumstances.
Maybe we won’t catch that part where he was pointing out that ‘spreading the wealth’ referred to the large corporations who actually pay less in taxes. The same ones who are mopping up billions in taxpayer bailouts to save their hides without pondering whether or not that would slide them into the socialist category. No moral issues there.
The best news, though, that is coming out of all of the socialist baiting is that it appears most of us have grown weary of being treated as if we have no common sense. Polls are reflecting the strength of the new diverse culture where every voice is given the opportunity to speak.
America is coming together as one people made up of every color, every religion, every ethnic background who came to these shores, looking to be free. The voters are listening to the plan rather than the looking at the pointed finger. Our new day fast approaches as we all head out to vote in record numbers. The United States of America is coming together and the momentum has only just begun. We are a mighty nation who has only been using a portion of the resources available in our citizens. Imagine what we are going to do next and believe in a bigger dream for us all.
©2008 Martha Randolph Carr. Martha’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.
Cartoon by Petar Pismestrovic, Kleine Zeitung, Austria