Well, so the question in the presidential campaign of the moment is: will the blatant strategic political maneuvering of the Republican party, which has worked so well for Bush/Cheney, still work its deceitful magic and captivate big media and its captive conservative audience? I think another phrasing of this question is: are Americans as a nation still too easily manipulated and gullible to put 2 and 2 together?
The media has been blabbering ecstatically about the strategic “daring” of McCain’s pick of an almost neolithically conservative Alaskan woman, but let’s recognize it for what it is: an act of both cynicism and desperation. The strategy behind it is obvious: pick a woman to appeal to women voters, as well as to pretend that suddenly McCain is a progressive (simply because he’s picked a woman), while at the same time, conversely, appealing to their essential Christian Coalition base of voters, because Palin may be a nice looking woman, but she’s also a Christian fundamentalist.
To the Republican strategists, who are always eager to harness the most unsavory aspects of fundamentalist religion (whether Christian or Islamic) to garner power, such an act of political theater is hardly daring. It is right in line with the type of cynical PR strategy that’s been used for Bush and his administration time after time. To the rest of the nation, however, I hope that this act of desperation is seen through for what it is: a demonstration of what McCain and his backers are really about: a blind grab for power at all costs, utilizing any means and political posing that will take them there. Please note that Obama chose his VP carefully, picking someone who not only would aid him strategically in winning the bid for presidency, but would more importantly serve as a strong addition to the White House in the role of Vice President.
It’s no secret that Palin has absolutely none of the qualities (she’s currently got a scandal brewing in Alaska) nor experience (they say that Obama is inexperienced? Give me a break.) to serve our nation as an effective Vice President. She’s just there to fill a symbolic strategic role. Seen for what it is, this purpose is actually quite demeaning to women. McCain’s pick for VP is not daring at all; it’s a pathetic excuse to try to gather in a hypothetical mass of voters who would judge only on shallow appearance. The Republicans are hoping that with enough of the media (we all know that Fox will be doing the cheerleading) in their pocketbooks, they can manage to mockingly sweep aside the obvious implications of their strategy.
So the question is: does this approach of putting voters into one-dimensional boxes really work? They have looked at the power of the votes of women, they have noted the power Hillary Clinton generated amongst women voters, and they have single-mindedly decided that women will vote for women. How incredibly reductionist of the plurality of identities that women can occupy beyond their gender designation. Did they stop to consider that women may have supported Hillary not simply because she is a woman who champions women’s rights, but furthermore because she is an incredibly intelligent and adept public representative?
This ploy is desperate because it demonstrates that however strategic and cynical this maneuver was, ultimately, it means that McCain’s puppet-masters are responding to the tone that Obama has set in the campaign, rather than calling the shots. Obama has struck the chord in America that finally, we have a politician with integrity, someone with energy, populist agendas, and the diplomacy and intelligence to work across partisan divides. Obama has run his campaign stressing the importance of change and a new direction in American politics. McCain has been turning against his own record in Washington by now pretending to be a “maverick” and “progressive.” He has positioned himself as a decoy of change by simulating seemingly progressive stances, such as picking a woman as VP and verbally denouncing our dependence on foreign oil. Wow, how progressive of him. Good thing his VP strongly supports big oil, has already demonstrated political abuse of power in her home state, and is fiercely anti-abortion.
So will the desperate and cynical strategems of the Republican party work this time around, even when Bush and his party’s popularity is at an all-time low, both within the nation and around the globe? Will the farce of Republican progressive change win over the true progressive agenda of Obama? Will the decoy win over the real thing? Superficiality over integrity?
I think not. There was a lot of true positive energy generated at the Democratic National Convention. There was a palpable force felt in that stadium that reached out across the dry and drab news network television coverage. The hunger for real change stirs somewhere in America, and I don’t think it’s just in liberal enclaves. People are waking up to the cynical, power and money hungry political maneuvering that operated the Bush administration, and hopefully, they have learned to navigate past the bland relativism presented by the media, where somehow truth seems to have no meaning until it’s already too late.
I believe the one-dimensional, unifocal political strategies of McCain’s puppet-masters will fall over on themselves. They have built the fantasies up a little too high this time around. Casting Bush Jr. as a born-again working rural man with divine conviction may have worked for a little while, but casting McCain as a simultaneous agent of progressive change AND conservative fundamentalism is just too much of a stretch. It can readily be seen through to what it is: a blind and misguided and desperate fumbling for power by a Republican party riddled with cronyism, corruption, scandals, and neo-conservative simple mindedness.
I will enjoy watching their politics of deceit finally topple over and fail in the public eye. Like Obama said in his speech at the convention: “they just don’t get it.”