Checking the right’s emotions
October 14, 2008
As the saying goes, “Don’t get mad, get even.” This is advice that apparently some John McCain supporters really need right now.
With the economy tanking, things haven’t been going so good for the Arizona senator. Polls have consistently shown that the economy is the number one issue on most Americans’ minds, and other polls have shown that most voters believe Senator Obama would do better at handling the current economic crisis. This has translated into some of the biggest leads of the campaign for Obama, leading by as much as eleven percentage points in some polls. This has led to some desperation on the part of some McCain supporters, and it has shown at recent rallies he has had.
At recent McCain rallies, voters have been increasingly vocal about their frustration with the senator’s campaign not attacking Obama more over his questionable connections. There have also been vitriolic comments being shouted about Obama, such as “terrorist,” “traitor,” and “Obama Osama.” McCain was interrupted repeatedly with shouts of “terrorist,” “socialist,” and “liar” at a town hall meeting in Pennsylvania last Wednesday.
Speakers who have introduced McCain at rallies have used Obama’s middle name, Hussein, while speaking about him. In Wisconsin, one man said in an impassioned speech “I’m mad, I’m really mad!” And he showed he obviously was, curtly instructing McCain, after he had tried to cut in, to “let me finish.”
This has left McCain in the awkward position of defending Obama while at the same time trying to do what he is supposed to do and criticize him. The campaign has denounced the use of Hussein by introductory speakers, and McCain has told his supporters to be respectful of Obama. This has led to boos from the crowd.
Seeing this type of anger coming from the right isn’t promising. For several years now it has been the left that has been so angry. George Bush was the devil, and therefore most of what America did was evil. Their opinions got increasingly more irascible, and less coherent and palpable to a rational person, which was what helped Bush get reelected.
The independent voters, who the candidates need, do not have the same disdain for them. If they do, it’s not to the degree held by those firmly committed to one candidate. When an independent voter sees this anger coming from supporters, it turns them off.
Now the McCain campaign can’t control what its supporters say or believe, but hopefully those supporters can realize what a huge disservice they do their own cause when showing such vitriol. The concerns that a lot of people have are legitimate.
It isn’t veiled racism to raise questions about Obama’s connections to William Ayers, a man once in charge of a radical left-wing group that carried out bombings, who shows no remorse and says they should have done more. Or to question Obama’s ties to the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, a man whose radicalism borders on insanity, saying in sermons that it’s not God bless America but “God damn America,” and that the American government infected black people with syphilis and HIV to kill them off. On top of all of this, there is Obama’s politics and his very liberal Senate record, even more liberal than self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders.
Maybe the cries of socialist weren’t wrong, after all.
Yet this anger is a self-destructive force that will ultimately do no good for Republicans and conservatives alike.
The anger gives a market to people who are better at slandering and smearing instead of thinking, like the Moveon.org and DailyKos crowd. The right’s new anger has led to continued tolerance of such people as Jerome Corsi, the author of “The Obama Nation” and conspiracy theorist extraordinaire. Hopefully it doesn’t lead to the rise of equally malicious right-wing groups.
Smart, political discourse is a fragile thing and something that is easily hijacked. Irrational anger has been a hallmark of so many on the left for so long now, and I hope this isn’t what the right is coming to. People need to listen to the saying. If John McCain’s supporters want him to get even with Obama, they can’t get mad.
Jordan is a junior in MCB, and is feeling stressed right now.