Saturday, September 15, 2012

Convention 2012: A Case of Two Very Different Crowds


Throughout the GOP primaries leading up to the convention proper, I had observed, and been bothered by the lack of diversity in the crowds that attend the rallies. Aside from Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, none of whom were serious contenders to begin with; the rest of the field, especially Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, consistently pulled crowds of almost 99% white audiences with a handful of blacks and other minorities. In contrast, during the campaigns of both Bushes and John McCain, the attendant crowds were more mixed and broad-based than what we are witnessing in the GOP today. Curious minds are right to wonder what happened from 1988 to this day.

One reason, at least from 2008, was the emergence of a black presidential candidate who drew almost all the black voting population, who were determined to elect the first black US president, and a considerable percentage of Hispanic and Native Americans who feel a kinship with Blacks, in terms of their social status in America. Secondly, the emergence of the TEA party fringe of the GOP, after the 2008 elections, and their anti-government, anti-poor, anti-social services, and pro-business-or-nothing rhetoric turned off a lot of minorities who mostly populate the government workforce at all levels, and are less likely to own businesses than their white counterparts.

Compounding the party’s problems were the ultra-conservative arm who took control of the party and grew more vitriolic, hateful, derogatory, and explicitly divisive in their messages. Their fierce and unrelenting attacks on the poor, women, gays and lesbians, immigrants, and avowal to either eliminate or drastically cut government services that benefit the poor were not endearing to a huge voting sector of the public. The poor, immigrants, and minorities – not the two wars we have been fighting for over ten years - were consistently blamed for the economic downturn the nation has been mired in for five years now, and accused of living free on the government hog. They advocated agendas that will remove the rights of women to determine their health and well-being; drive them back to the stone age, where they will revert to being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen; sadly, in most cases, with the support of rich and powerful women.

Conservative Republicans, under the pretext of supporting the provisions of the constitution, and state laws, gave tacit support to heinous crimes and state legislations designed to disenfranchise women and minorities, disband state union workers, destroy industry unions, and institute racial profiling in counties. To be poor and homeless became disdainful, even though most Republicans are poor and on welfare; the bible quotations were used as justification for hateful crimes against gays and lesbians. Women in Republican-controlled states used their offices to push laws that will deprive fellow women of health and well-woman care, just because they were poor.

Conservative, GOP-leaning pastors openly preached hatred against other religions and cultures; radio and TV stations and personalities upped the ante with hateful and derogatory messages and name-calling that deeply polarized not just the races, but the genders as well. The Black president, and by extension, all blacks were blamed for everything that ails the country today; and some republicans in Congress did not help stem the divide with their public vow to ensure the president did not win a second term. All of these, inadvertently, pushed minorities further away from the GOP, in spite of the reality that a minority stands a better chance of winning elective office as a GOP than a Democrat anywhere in the South today. Unfortunately, that would have meant buying into, believing, and practicing the hateful and divisive message of the GOP conservative wing. That is how we got to where we saw ourselves with two conventions showcasing two parties, one for mostly white America, and the other for everyone else.

It was personally troubling to notice a smattering of blacks and other minorities that graced the GOP convention, compared to the sea of mixed race and cultures at the Democratic event a week later. For a party which was responsible for some major civil rights laws benefiting blacks and minorities to allow itself to be hijacked and dictated to by TEA party constitutionalists, Puritans, ultra-conservative far-rightists, and anti-social elements is bad enough; but for its candidates to go along with this divisive agenda, just to win primaries, spells doom for this party of Lincoln. Eventually, these self-styled Puritans and conservative elements (though there is nothing conservative about their behaviors) will help drive minorities further away from the GOP, eventually turning it into either Le Pen’s Nationalist Party, or Hitler’s Nazi party.

The choice is up to the GOP leadership.