America's dark night of the soul

I'm not going to lie and put a happy face on it: I look forward to this week's Republican National Convention with trepidation and disgust. Trepidation not because I think that Romney and his cohorts will come roaring out of Tampa to victory in November. No. My trepidation comes from the ugly, vitriolic, and hateful manner in which the GOP will conduct the campaign to a loss in the fall. We will win, but make no mistake: it will be a bloody victory.

Seven birthers will have prime speaking spots at the convention. Romney himself now finds it acceptable to make birther jokes. ("No one has ever asked ME for my birth certificate.") The GOP knows it can't beat President Obama in a fair fight, so it has reignited the culture wars, with the racism not even veiled. As TPM notes:
Having failed to make any headway with non-white voters, the Romney campaign is doubling down on ads “designed to turn the presidential contest into a racially freighted resource competition pitting middle class white voters against the minority poor.”

Just how far will they go?

That Mitt Romney is sinking to this level is a damning indictment of him, his party, and "post-racial" America. How soon before we go back to the 1990s and start seeing ads like this:

Perhaps my memory fails me; memory is such a fickle thing. But if I recall, when this ad ran in 1990, it drew gasps of consternation that a politician in the post-civil rights era would play that sort of racial politics. Today? After Romney's "joke", was there a single prominent mainstream journalist who treated it for the vile, incendiary remark that it was? Or was it merely accepted as part of a campaign in which "both sides" stoop low? (A rhetorical question, I know.)

The only way that Romney and the Republicans have a shot at gaining the White House is to unleash without reservation the racial animus at the heart of what's left of the GOP coalition. Ever since the Civil Rights Act it's been there, a motive force. Now it's being called upon to scar the landscape in one final attempt to secure power, before demographic changes relegate the American right wing to history's dustbin.

The birtherism. The welfare ads. The accusations of "not understanding America". The Ohio official who said it wasn't in the state's interest to make voting easier for African Americans. Every iteration of the GOP racist campaign gets ratcheted up one more level. The only thing I think the GOP wouldn't say is "But he's a NIGGER." At least, I think they wouldn't say that. But a cornered animal is desperate, and its lashing out can kill you before it too succumbs to its wounds.

America is in a dark night. It's 3 a.m., and the wolf is at the door. The GOP has shown that it has no compunction of laying the land waste so long as it can assume power. How this country reacts to the GOP's assault on the true ideals of the American Experiment will affect not just this nation, but the world.

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