A commenter made a very good point recently, in response an earlier post (about the “Obama assassination poll” on Facebook), that “The world is watching and wondering: what is going on in America???” Indeed, many people around the world must certainly be asking themselves: is this the same country that just last November, elected the first Black president, not just of the United States, but of a western country? Last year, and even up to January, America was the envy of the west, which knows in its heart that no Obama could win election there. With one decisive vote count, our population had shaken off the Bush years, in which America became an international pariah, prone to wars of aggression, cowboy diplomacy, intellectual malaise, religious fanaticism, financial profligacy, and even torture. With Obama’s election, the world hailed not just our intelligent, sophisticated, internationalist new president — but the return of the American people to sanity. And what a difference from even four years earlier, when London’s Daily Mirror pointedly asked:
… and dumb we seemed to the rest of the world. Now, in just one short summer, barely eight months into Barack Obama’s presidency, we’ve gone from a country that went from African slavery to a black president in less than 400 years, to a country that prompts unnamed world leaders to ask the president: what’s wrong with your people? ‘We don’t understand it. You’re trying to make sure everybody has health care and they’re putting a Hitler mustache on you — I don’t — that doesn’t make sense to me. Explain that to me…” The images emanating from our country have gone from 100,000 mostly white, young and old Americans cheering a black presidential candidate in Missouri last fall, to a town hall full of screaming old people who don’t know Medicare is a government program. We have the inauguration, and all the hope and pageantry it entailed, contrasted with the “million moron march,” in which 70,000 or so angry right wingers toted around Mao posters when most have no idea who Mao was, and others conflating communism with Nazism, perhaps not realizing that the two ideologies fought each other to the death during World War II.
The combination of rage and ignorance is never pretty, nor is an all-out war for political resurgence, such as the one being waged by the right against the new president. Unfortunately for President Obama, the right’s flailings are taking place during a time of extreme economic uncertainty and fear (thanks, George W.) and without a means of quickly reversing the tide of anxiety, particularly among the middle class, and with a credulous media that gets enthralled with everything the right spits out, Obama will have to live with the spectacle, probably for the next four years.
But world, please remember that most of us in America are not the teabaggers. They are loud, obnoxious, and in some cases, actually insane. But there are many more of us normal people. Really there are.