Most people are spinning this as some sort of horror story about the dark underbelly of America. What you see in the video above, however, is what the Soviets would have called “Reactionaries”.
This is a problem that I have had to think about long and hard. It has made my support for Obama at times wax and wane. The “Change” trope, as tired and worn as it may be, is still what symbolizes this election, and the forces arrayed against each other fall into two camps: for change, and against change. This may seem like a bit of a non-sequitur but the point does bear mentioning. John McCain has been reluctantly coopted by the (mostly) conservative forces that are vehemently against the “changes” (substantial or not) that Obama proposes.
The reason McCain will lose this election is that he thinks he must also hop on the ‘change’ bandwagon in order to win. It’s no surprise that of recent he has abandoned the theme of ‘change’ and has instead tried to focus everyone’s attention on the sorts of change that Obama seeks to bring about.
And these changes are not minor. The racism and bigotry that has infected this election cycle is not purely on account of Obama’s blackness as such; instead it is about demographic and ideological shifts that are remaking the face of the United States.
Until this election, the common retort of green party members that the Democrat and Republican parties were really the same was actually for the most part true. The mass of society was mostly white, vaguely well-off, and for the most part ideologically similar (in favor of American intervention, against taxation, against Communism, etc.). Main differences appeared over fringe issues such as how to deal with certain problems, rather than what the problems actually are.
John McCain and Barack Obama, for all of their rhetoric, are split along an easy-to-grasp, but still quite profound ideological line. McCain stands for the old meritocracy (that was so happily bought into by most white people, because it quite frankly to be egalitarian towards people of the same race). Obama stands for the revolution (if one could ever occur here). Obama wants to institute far-sweeping changes that are at heart changes to the way that America functions both in governance and society.
Again, people look to these two leaders and wonder what their stances on issues will be; but the real reason that values matter (and will be harped upon by McCain and Palin) is because that is exactly what Obama promises to bring to Washington: a new set of guidelines. Obama’s is a campaign of change not on the level of policy but on ideological fundament.
Obama pitches himself as a great leveler (hence the Messianic imagery); the cries of “communist” and “terrorist” are not so far from home for this reason. Osama Bin Laden stands for hardline Islamic ideology. Islam is only confusing if you refuse to understand it. But the religion itself exists on a very simple premise: people are equal. You cannot depict Allah and Muhammad because that would put Muhammad higher up than any other devout worshipper. Islam’s appeal in southeast Asia is for the very reason that it advocates radical equality. The link between Obama and Osama is not one of semantic drift: it is grounded in an intuition (that is not so far from the truth) that Obama wants to bring radical equality to our nations’ highest office.
The news media and liberal blogs are keen to paint the racist demogoguery surrounding Palin rallies as simply one instance of human irrationality–artifacts, they say, of a troubled past. Really, these bigoted outcries are grounded in a very real insecurity that most white, middle-class Americans feel about Obama, because he is the anathema of a structured (read: vaguely, if merit-based, aristocratic) American society.