Watching the network and cable news discussion of the election has left me with a queasy sense of dislocation. They talk about Ayers amd Palin, they discuss duelling tax plans and insurance benefits, ACORN and the Hanoi Hilton; Reverent Wright and wolf hunting from helicopters. But no one seems willing to come out and discuss what may very well be the deciding factor in this Presidential race.
That's the word, I just said it, I guess it just popped out:
Most people refuse to mention it. Pundits don't say it on the air and 'Joe Six-Pack" certainly doesn't say it to the person from Gallup or Pew who calls asking questions. It's like the race of the black husband in the new Jonathan Demme movie. Rachel Getting Married: elaborately, conscientously, surreally ignored.
But this is a racist country. A shocking -- and at this terrifying, teetering point in the history of our Democracy, an unguessable -- number of people are going to step into that voting booth on November 4th and in that Constitutionally mandated solitude and privacy, cast their ballot in favor of the nutty old white guy, no matter how creepy he seems, no matter how ugly his campaign or how schitzophrenic his political history.
Why? Because he's white.
I'm sorry. I wish it wasn't true. But the fact is, people are talking about this, in a slimy set of code words: Obama is a 'terrorist' and 'arab', 'unamerican' ... alien ... in other words: black. All the hard core racists I know self-righteously deny it, and this elaborate counter-language allows them to have it both ways. But it doesn't fool me. And because McCain is such an appallingly bad candidate, mindlessly lockstepping to the catastrophic policies of the people who tried to destroy him eight years ago ... because he is so erratic, so bankrupt of ideas, so angry, so unscrupulous, this election becomes a classic controlled scientific experiment, a 'litmus test' for the American public. I mean, let's face it: there is NO OTHER REASON to vote against Barrack Obama. He's calm in the face of violent aggression, measured in thought, shrewd in policy-making, a stirring orator with real ideas and a history of consistent political action, a man with no demons or scandals in his past (Ayers was the best they could come up with), a shrewd passionate leader with a new agenda for a country that's just about to adjourn. He's running against a senile, amoral, war-mongering buffoon. Which adds up to one unavoidable fact: this election is going to be nothing less than a referendum on American racism: a civics test for the class of '08, a final examination in tolerance and the American ability to see beyond our personal prejudices to the greater good.
I hope we pass it. We can't afford to fail.