The Politics of Hatred, Divisiveness, and Fear Mongering

When I became a US citizen in 1988, one of my reactions was that I now had the right to vote. Originally, from Jamaica, I came to the US in 1980 after receiving my engineering degree in Canada. Although I studied engineering and worked in that field for twenty-nine years, my love of politics, which started from my childhood days in Jamaica, would continue in the US. Since 1980 when I became a permanent resident in the US, I have watched every presidential debate and voted in all presidential elections since becoming a US citizen.  

My admiration for the American political system is shared by many immigrants who admire it because itexemplifies the fundamentalprinciples of democracy. Despite its high traditional standard, America’s political system is not perfect, as it does not prevent those we elect from abusing or undermining it. Such abuse is currently being played out with the current Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

The GOP and the Republican-controlled House have relentlessly pursued a mission to bring down President Obama. This mission includes blatant disrespect, obstruction of the president’s agenda, baseless conspiracy theories, and propaganda. President Obama has been called unpatriotic, a Muslim, a socialist, and even caricatured at conservative rallies as Hitler. The GOP also rants about the president taking the country down the wrong path and that his policies are not good for Americans. Their latest rant aimed at smearing the president’s character is “he cannot be trusted.”

One word that characterizes the GOPs anti-Obama crusade is obsession. This obsession has continually prevented the GOP from acting in the best interests of the American people. While they have failed to make the president a one-term president, they have succeeded in undermining democracy, shutting down the government, blocking most of the president’s nominations and blocking efforts to get the unemployment benefits extended for thousands of unemployed Americans. Having wasted their energy and resources in doing these things, it is no surprise that the U.S. Congress has the lowest approval rating in history.

Despite the obstructionist schemes and personal attacks, President Obama has accomplished more than many of his predecessors who did not face such obstruction and disrespect. His accomplishments include: bailing out the auto industry; passing a healthcare law; putting an end to Don’t ask Don’t tell; implementing the Equal Pay Act; dismantling Al Qaeda by eliminating its leader Osama bin Laden; creating the Consumer Protection Agency; expanding Pell grants; creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as part of the  Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act; andincreasing fuel efficiency standards in vehicles.

So what is it about President Obama that has driven the GOP and the right-wing media into this obsessive frenzy to take him down? What is it about him that in trying to destroy him they do not appear to give any thought about the damage they are doing to the political system, the country and the American people? President Obama has not done anything egregious or over and above what other presidents have done. If this were the case, they would have impeached him (not withstanding some in the GOP who have called for his impeachment without identifying the impeachable offence).

Since the attacks on President Obama are more personal than political, the most likely conclusion is that his race is the reason for the attacks. Yes, I am playing the “race card” here, but what exactly is the race card? It is nothing more than a defense mechanism to muzzle people from using racism as the cause of mistreatment or unfairness towards non-white people. Those who want to deny racist behavior will try to muzzle anyone attempting to use racism as a reason for any conflict involving whites and non-whites.

It is not difficult to conclude that race is a factor in the animus against President Obama. From the beginning of the president’s first term in office, high profiled members of the Republican Party have made comments  about the president that have racial undertones. For example, Rep. Joe Wilson (R) yelled out during the president’s address to Congress “you lie,” John Sununu said, “Obama is a lazy idiot” and Sarah Palin said, “His shucking and jiving must stop.” The GOP’s silence or tepid effort in strongly condemning the racially coded words, the conspiracy theories, and the blatant disrespect of the president reflects their racial animus towards the president.

Recently, the racial rhetoric towards the President Obama reached a new low when rock musician, Ted Nugent called the president a “subhuman mongrel.” Nugent made this comment during an interview with Guns.com. The fact that Nugent has campaigned with Republican candidates, and was a Republican guest at the last State of the Union address should have been good reason for the GOP leadership to condemn his vile and hate-filled comments. That they did not do this, clearly demonstrates the complicity of the GOP leadership with the racial animus towards President Obama.

Because of their obsession, the GOP has been more than willing to use hatred, divisiveness and fear mongering to the extent that the attacks have reached unprecedented levels. The true tragedy is that this hatred of the President Obama has prevented Congress from accomplishing anything meaningful on the major issues like the economy,jobs, unemployment, healthcare, immigration, gun control, or energy policy. This is unfortunate for the country and a bad example for other countries that look to America as the leader of the free world.Even more unfortunate is that the American people feel abandoned by the very people they elected to serve them.

The GOP leadership should realize that their relentless effort to destroy President Obama will not make the party less attractive to an electorate that has become more diverse. They should also realize by now that the political divisiveness and alienation of women, blacks, and Hispanics is not good for America and is not a good political strategy. If there is anything good from their effort it is, that it has made the president seem more invincible, more a resolute leader, and added to his mystique.

President Obama’s mystique and extraordinary journey to become the first African American president motivated me to write the book, “Whom God has Blessed, Let no Man Curse.” In this book, I discuss the Noble Eightfold Path (a code of living) that the president seems to abide by, and that seems to help him deal with the adversities that are foisted on him.

Note: This is a longer version to the abbreviated version I posted on Feb. 25, 2014.