So, you watched the big crowds and limos swarming around the Capitol and came away with the distinct impression Barack Obama is going to be president again for a second term. Au contraire. According to America’s right-wing he was never president to begin with, really. While Boehner, Cantor and McConnell did show up at the inauguration, cameras were not in place to capture whether or not their fingers were crossed behind their backs when the President took the oath. Though Fox News covered the inauguration it was presented as another one of the sister network’s fictional dramas like ‘24’.
For the fourth time in 20 years a Democratic president publically took the oath of office. And for the fourth time in 20 years the American right wagging the Republican Party responded with a chorus of “Doesn’t Count!” Barack Obama, like Bill Clinton won two Electoral College landslides and yet neither was accorded by the right, and by much of the Republican Party even the basic, minimal respect normally and formerly accorded any president of the United States, if only out of regard for the office. No doubt there has been extra zesty hate for Barack, what with his pigments a little more earth tone than the pallid Bubba’s and a name that rhymes with Osama. But the refusal to confer legitimacy has been much the same, and it is a refusal to legitimize that has extended to the entirety of the Democratic Party for twenty years as well. The moonpies on the right, like the institutionalized convinced they are God or Napoleon now are convinced they are the only legitimate Americans, even as in belief and behavior they have veered so far astray of American traditions and values they’ve tumbled off the grid.
There is the chicken or egg question of which came first: the exotic radicalization of the American right or the aspersions it casts on the legitimacy of the opposition. One view, a credible one in my opinion is that three successive presidential victories in the Eighties convinced many Republicans there was never any going back, the divinity had tapped them to rule America in perpetuity. But I’m not a psychiatrist, so who knows? What I do know is that this could be an opportune moment for the Republican Party, and by opportune moment I mean a time when a majority of the country finds you really disgusting, to do a little something to improve the brand.
On the outside chance that gerrymandering and rigging the Electoral College won’t sustain you as a going political entity, and you need to actually rely upon appealing to a majority of your fellow citizens, one place to begin would be to stop relating to the current president of the United States as though he were a usurper, with overt dismissiveness, hostility and brazen disrespect. No more yelling “You lie” at him during the State of the Union or asking for his identity papers. I would suggest one reason so many Americans now find the Republican Party massively repellent is that they have noticed this conspicuous disrespect, disregard and lack of decency that characterize the right’s relationship with Barack Obama. Even though the Republican Party, out of electoral necessity has gone to great lengths in its modern history to camouflage its ideology, Americans first observe the right’s miserable and miserly attitude and contempt for the president and even for his entire party; in fact, toward everyone with whom they disagree, including members of their own natural constituencies, leading Americans then to further inspect Republican ideology and to notice the creepy crawly things squirming around in there.
As part of the inauguration of this new phase of Republican opposition, Republicans may consider putting calls for impeachment, secession and armed insurrection on ice. I know calling for the impeachment of a Democratic president is in your blood, but fight it son.