You can tell it’s time for the general election when the press speculates over potential “Sister Souljah Moments” for the Democratic candidate.
In the past few days Barack Obama has changed his mind on FISA legislation that gives telecom companies immunity for breaking the law; sided with the conservatives on the Supreme Court over a recent second amendment ruling on an individual right to own a gun; sworn to expand Pres. Bush’s Faith Based Initiatives program and a little over a week ago his campaign shooed away two Muslim American women in head scarves at an event.
I’m not particularly surprised by this. Moving to the center or right on some Liberal/Progressive issues are part and parcel for the Democrats since Bill Clinton did it in 1992. The only thing that really bugged me was how the two women were treated. Since African Americans have a history of being treated as invisible by the political process I’m always bothered when we do the same thing to others. It’s woefully hypocritical.
Many are trying to paint Obama as a Muslim as a slur and while he personally apologized to them, by shunning these two women his campaign is basically endorsing that stereotype. Muslim and terrorist/extremist are not the same things. Islam a religion and there is nothing wrong with the religion. It is the acts of individuals twisting the religion to justify their actions who are bad, not the individual followers of Islam. I wish the campaign could/would do something different to rebuke this slur that didn’t indirectly reaffirm the stereotype of Muslims as evil or anti-American even if they’re American citizens who are peacefully living, working and minding their own business in this country.
The fact that the campaign feels the rumor is so virulent that they had to shun two women in head scarves basically demonstrates that the assholes and bigots have won this round.
I also find it an interesting irony that while Obama is moving towards the center in an attempt to assuage those who doubt his patriotism and Christian faith, John McCain is trying to make sweet, sweet love to the hard right. He’s ditched a lot of his more centrist views (drilling in ANWAR, the plight of Guantanamo detainees, fighting the “agents of intolerance,” wooing the same individuals who attacked John Kerry and destroyed him during his 2000 campaign) in order to shore up his ground with the religious right.
Considering that the religious right kind of hates him, the only thing that brings them together is their fear/dislike of Barack Obama. This is why he pushes hard on the abortion issue (and appointing Supreme Court judges), the only issue he’s really on par with them. Although, historically he’s been lukewarm on a constitutional amendment to ban abortion.
It’s truly absurd that the best action both candidates can make is to move to the right or righter. Especially when this time, more than any other time, a majority of Americans have soured on many conservative views and policies — from globalism to bomb first, ask questions later. People are open to an idea, any idea, to fix the healthcare crisis and are in disarray over gas prices, the housing crisis and job loss. In Missouri, Chrysler announced it was shutting down a plant in Festus. A few years back Ford left Hazelwood, Mo. Everyone hates the war in Iraq (although they disagree on how to end it). Many people aren’t enthusiastic over the possibility of bombing Iran, so I guess I’m not getting something.
I understand some moves to the center. I don’t like church and state touching each other, but I’m not going to oppose tinkering with the Faith Based Initiatives. I even support the individual right to own a handgun, but I’m also pro-gun control and people to be responsible for their actions if they use a gun improperly. I can work with these things … to a point. But I don’t understand the move to the right because it doesn’t give independents a clear view of the differences between the two candidates.
Buddying up to some right wing ideas reinforces Ralph Nader’s mantra that there is little to no difference between the two parties. This belief is what harms Democratic candidates in my mind. Especially since Republicans tend to run to even more so to the right in presidential elections. If you’re not offering an alternative, if you’re serving up Republican lite, people will simply just pick the stronger brand.
It’s like Coke v. New Coke. Or Coke v. Generic Supermarket Soda. I’d rather hear new and more innovative ways to tackle our issues from a progressive stance than an aping of Republican beliefs because “Liberal” has become a slur — not dissimilar from Muslim.
But perhaps I’m asking for too much. We’re talking about politicians, not saints. Both Obama and McCain are in this to win. I just know that moving to the center didn’t help Al Gore and it didn’t help John Kerry. It only worked for Bill Clinton because he’s Bill Clinton. In his day he could sell unicycles to paraplegics. I don’t know if anyone has the charisma on either side to pull that sort of gambit again, and these drastic changes sadly contradict Obama’s overall message of being a more principled politician.