Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"Real Americans": the new far right?

Remember, crazy McCain rally woman? Meet the sequel.

This is a continuation of the not-so-thinly-veiled racism of the McCain-Palin campaign. However, it also reflects a serious crisis in the Republican party. As Lance Selfa argued in February

SINCE THE mid-1970s, when the ruling class took a decisive turn toward neoliberalism and employers launched a three-decade-old offensive against organized labor and the working class, the Republican Party was their chosen vehicle for delivering, enforcing and building a social base for these policies.

After largely accomplishing these goals, the Republicans have come up against the limits of their strategy.

The success of the conservative program--tax cuts for the richest Americans, cutting government spending on programs to benefit working Americans, and exposing more government policies to "market forces"--has produced an ideological fallout in the population, the majority of whom have not benefited from this agenda.

Like the capitalist system as a whole, the Republicans must be reorganized in order to continue. Within the party there are competing schools of thought. On the one hand, John McCain's former campaign manager wants the Republicans to embrace gay marriage, and on the other hand you have 10 Republican congressmen demanding Obama's birth certificate. The Republicans need an new rallying point, and hardcore nativism is not out of the question.

Like McCain and Palin's accusations of socialism against Obama, these attacks of "not a real American" will fall flat. But if the Republicans were to turn that epiphet on more vulnerable people, Muslims, immigrants, we would be looking at an ugly new turn in American politics.