Remember back in November of 2011 when Herman Cain called the House Minority Leader “Princess Nancy during one of the seemingly endless debates leading up to the GOP presidential nomination?
I was reminded of that comment when reading this report from Democracy Corps, Inside the GOP: Report on Focus Groups with Evangelical, Tea Party, and Moderate Republicans. There are two parts to the brief that together describe the result of focus groups organized to figure out what gives the Republican base juice.
Number one on the list? Obama-hatred. Here’s what they have to say on that front –
…almost a quarter of the variation in responses…[are] animated in the first instance by deep hostility to President Barack Obama, and equally by views of Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Congress that held sway before the voter reaction in 2010…
Well, not exactly “equally,” though close. Of Barack Obama, the Democratic majority Congress, Nancy Pelosi, Obama leads the pack of the despised by a hair. But, here’s what I found most interesting. Among the biggest haters, Nancy Pelosi may not be hated by quite as many as Obama, but she draws the fiercest hostility.
Now, there could be a lot of different reasons for that, including that Republicans are using Pelosi as a proxy for the president because she’s white, wealthy, and from San Francisco, which might as well be either Sodom or Gomorrah as far as many conservatives are concerned. And we know that conservative white Republicans are freaked out by the label racist. This, I theorize, is why they idolize people like Herman Cain, Dr. Ben Carson, and Condoleezza Rice. Black Republicans are white conservatives’ human shields against accusations of racism.
Given all that anti-elite resentment and anxiety, it might follow that Pelosi is the safe white proxy for Obama. Safe to hate, I mean.
I’m guessing they also hate Pelosi because she’s the Democratic leader most responsible for Obamacare after the President. Conservative opposition to Obamacare hinges of getting folk to buy ridiculous ideas like that Obamacare is worse than no care at all, and, to boot, that it will bankrupt the economy, open the door to totalitarianism, and force us to face government-sponsored death panels. In order to buy those tropes, you’ve gotta see the people who brought us Obamacare as monsters. And while that may seem like a pretty big reach, remember that we’ve endured a long and hallowed tradition of imagining black people and women (where do you think the term “witch hunt comes from?) as monsters in this country.
But, the thing about that theory that fails is that we all know Americans can barely tell you who the vice president was under Bush, much less who led the charge for Obamacare in our Congress. The folks who can pin it on Pelosi are probably a pretty small minority, yet many hate her as much as the most famous man in America, and a bunch of those haters hate her more. So, why the special hatred for her?
Here’s why. She’s a woman. Worse, she’s an uppity white woman repping for an uppity black man who is exercising power over white people for whom that power represents just about the worst kind of humiliation. They want their country back, and they believe it was stolen from them by a black man with the help of a white feminist.
Word to the wise. You can’t separate racism and sexism. Not only are sexism and racism closely related justifications for domination and control of society by the white males, who after all were the founders, but, in practical terms, it’s the juice behind the movement that has shut down our government and is threatening to destroy our economy. In fact, the white right of the American electorate feels such disdain for feminists and people of color that their leaders are, with great success, using the chimera of control of government by black people and feminists to whip disdain into rage that they are aiming directly at hobbling the government to the point where it can no longer provide the very services, programs like Medicare, Social Security, the Postal Service, and federal funding for basic infrastructure, many who hate Obama and Pelosi rely on for their survival.
There’s a lot in those two documents. Clearly the Republican base is deeply divided. Based on the results of the last national election, they’re also shrinking. Yet, they’re insurgent, as the current government shut down illustrates. It puts me in mind of that old Margaret Mead quote – “never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” It also serves as a good reminder that what folks are “caring” about may have little or nothing to do with justice.
2 replies on “I Know Haters Are Gonna Hate Cuz That’s What They Do, But This?”
Very good point here. In fact, Pelosi herself made this point to Chris Hayes a few days ago: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/pelosi-if-boehner-were-a-woman-they-d-call-him-weakest-speaker-in-history-video
Racism and sexism definitely underlie many proposed conservative policies in the first place. When your model, from forever ago, is based on the idea that it’s okay for one’s gains to come at the expense of others (an idea elevated in the value of “competitiveness”), your goal becomes not equality for all, but getting rid of the competition by any means necessary. An easy way to do that is develop the -isms that allow you to take one group of people out of the game to begin with; their version of “leveling the playing field”.
And despite the veneration in our society of individualism, everyone knows you can’t keep a group of people down all by yourself; hence, you need the angry masses. Racism and sexism are good tools to tap into to gin up some anger quickly, particularly when a parsing of your actual ideas might not cut it with your intended audience.
Living in NC, in a state that very quickly went from being the most moderate of Southern states to the a giant lab experiment in white patriarchal supremacy, we see quite clearly how racism and sexism are being used to consolidate power and support regressive legislation. This state has a lot of people who are hurting, and that includes a lot of white men. But if you can use the racist trope that people of color and immigrants spend their whole lives trying to game the system, you can convince people that not expanding Medicaid and cutting unemployment and food stamp benefits is a good idea (even if those same folks have used them). And if you can fall back on the sexist belief that all women are liars and whores, you can restrict abortion/birth control access and reduce protections for sexual/domestic violence victims (again, even if you make use of those services). Racism and sexism provide “easy” solutions for difficult problems, and generally require no admission of one’s culpability in the problem; it’s a winning strategy….