David Brooks argues that the teabagger phenomenon, with all its craziness, isn’t fundamentally “about” race. Â Instead, he says, it’s an instance of the eternal populist protest against the “elites.”
Why is this an either/or? Â Yes, the teabaggers have much in common with previous revolts of the ignorant. Â But racial animus is no stranger to those revolts, and Glenn Beck (for example) has made Obama’s supposed hostility toward whites a significant theme; those Obama-as-witch-doctor posters Â didn’t come out of nowhere.
Other than the racial element, what’s new this time is the willingness of a big chunk of the ruling elite, including the leadership of one of the two great political parties, to align itself with the lunatic fringe. Â The GOP of the 30s got pretty rabid about Roosevelt, but GOP electeds never adopted the Liberty Lobby/Father Coughlin accusations about FDR and the world Jewish conspiracy. Â Contemporary Republican leaders are willing to join the folks with pitchforks as they worry about the President’s birth certificate.
That’s change, but not the kind we voted for.
I admit to having been wrong; I was convinced that Obama’s self-evident excellence as a human being would reconcile whites to being ruled by him, and thought that his race might even mitigate his superiority. Â Maybe that would have been true, in better economic times. Â And it still may become true. Â Or it could be that his Presidency will put a deeper devide between white racists and the rest of us palefaces. Â But so far, not so good.