After an exhausting Republican primary season and a Presidential campaign that has been dragging on for months, we are about to enter the home stretch. One expects to have rigorous debates in a democracy and ideological differences among political parties are inevitable. But a panic has set in among the conservative true believers. The great conspiracy to deny President Barack Obama a second term appears to be ineffective.
This panicky state is readily apparent whenever one tunes in to Fox News that is allegedly fair and balanced. From Barack Obama became the Democratic Party nominee in 2008, the demonization of the first black President has been relentless. That is Fox’s right as a conservative cable station but the criticism invariably creates its own reality of events. As we enter the stretch, Fox News has already become quite inventive at attributing every ill in the world to the incumbent President.
A case in point is the mob uprising in the Islamic world as a response to the provocative video on Muslims produced in the United States. Early in his presidency, Barack Obama reached out to the Arab world and sought a rapprochement. Like his Republican predecessor, Obama made it clear that the war on terror was not a war against Islam but directed at fanatics who in the name of religion engaged in wanton destruction.
The Arab world is in a state of turmoil. Through the Arab Spring in places like Tunisia and Egypt, mass uprisings have led to the toppling of dictatorships. America or Obama did not initiate the Arab Spring. America cannot determine its outcome yet the line of march on Fox News, as mobs burned American flags and assassinated an American ambassador, those dastardly attacks are attributed to President Obama’s failure at rapprochement. Traditionally, when America is attacked the country closes ranks. No one blamed President Roosevelt for Pearl Harbor or George W. Bush for the attack on the World Trade Center. But thousands of miles away in foreign lands, President Obama is presumably responsible for the conduct of Islamic fanatics.
Fox News served as the cheerleaders for the Tea Party which emerged as a political force in 2010. Two years after the Wall Street meltdown and the election of Barack Obama, the conservative fundamentalist won a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. About 100 new Congressional representatives zeroed in on the deficit and in a time of recession vowed to balance the budget. Every rational economist, left or right of the ideological spectrum, is aware that in a depression or a recession, cut backs in the public sector only digs the hole to recovery even deeper. These indigenous fanatics took the position that they would not extend the debt ceiling even if it meant for the first time in American history, the United States would default on its debt. After Moody’s downgraded America’s credit rating, at the eleventh hour, the debt ceiling was lifted.
Just four years ago, the finance sector of American capitalism brought the American economy and the world economy to a state of ruin. Even in this heated electoral season, the cause of the financial meltdown is not even a topic of discussion. There is a memory loss and a refusal to explain how the rampant speculation and profiteering on sub-prime mortgages took the American economy over the precipice. The collapse happened under President George W. Bush and even though his reckless reduction of federal revenues triggered the deficits, it was the Wall Street greed and the concentration of wealth among the few that created such a devastating economic downfall. It was the public sector that rescued the big banks from the big bang of financial scandal. Conservative fundamentalists are blind to the excuses of the private sector.
The country has recovered in part from the great recession but it has not led to much political clarity. That muddle-headedness is seen in the campaign of the Republican standard bearer, Mitt Romney. In an age where the federal government is running over a trillion dollars in deficit and there is an accumulated deficit of approximately $16 trillion and entitlement programs that must be fixed in the long term, the Romney prescription for the future is to further deprive the federal government of sorely needed revenues by further lowering income tax rates and cutting capital gains to the benefit of Romney’s class.
There has been much loose talk on the political circuit about class warfare. When in the history of human kind has there not been class warfare? The question of distribution of power and distribution of wealth will always be a poignant issue in democratic party politics. What is unique, perhaps exceptional, in American politics is the inability of the white electorate to grasp the class implications of American politics.
Mr. Romney’s candidacy has made the continued hoodwinking of the white working class electorate a much harder sell. Romney, a multi-millionaire, personifies a new class that has no commitment to America per se and will embark on extreme measures to foster their nests such as investing money in offshore bank accounts. Romney’s Bain Capital firm is emblematic of this new vulture capitalism where profits are gained at the expense of workers’ wellbeing and community viability. It is not surprising that behind the closed doors of wealthy donors, Romney summarily dismissed 47 percent of America’s population as governmental predator’s who are not taking responsibility for their lives. Romney laments that his message of conservatism could not reach that 47 percent. For Romney’s class, callousness has become the norm.
Mitt Romney’s campaign mirrors the inchoate discourse on Fox News. The 47 percent of Americans represent the modification to the capitalist system, to make the system more humane. Why Romney will lose the Presidency is his lack of empathy, and the inability of the conservative fundamentalist to understand the role of government in contemporary society.
The great conspiracy against President Barack Obama spearheaded by Fox News has crumbled around the ineptness of Romney’s campaign. Fox News needs to examine its role in a changing bodypolitic or it will lose its appeal even to those who are still clinging to white privilege. Fox as a profitable entity going forward has to recognize that the station courts bankruptcy if it fails to recognize the new America in the making. Fox News is about to experience a flop, and to ensure a future that is fair and balanced, that may require a revolutionary flip.