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A strategy for defeating Obama in 2012

By Jack Kerwick
web posted February 21, 2011

It is nothing short of a certainty that in order to get Barack Obama reelected, the Democrats will resort to their tried and true tactic of playing the race card.  The fact that America's first black president elicited a greater percentage of the white vote than any Democratic presidential candidate in quite some time is neither here nor there: the Democrats have been using "the R word" against their opponents for so long that they have become like Pavlov's dogs with respect to it. 

For as difficult as it may be for many of us to believe it, there are still a substantial number of whites in America who promise to fall prey to this strategy.  Rather than go on the defensive, as is their way, I suggest that Republicans invite this fight. 

John McCain engaged in a lifetime's worth of folly throughout the course of his political career, but one of the most foolish mistakes he ever made—a mistake that cost him the one thing he wanted more than anything else, the presidency—was ignoring Obama's decades-long relationship with the black racialist, Jeremiah Wright.  After he lost the election, McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, confessed that she thought they had a "duty" to the American voter to keep this issue before the public's eye, a duty that they failed to discharge.  

And she was right.  In his insistence to "run a clean campaign," McCain actually assisted to no slight extent in concealing from the electorate the real Obama.  In so doing, however, he failed strategically as well as morally.  

So that the Republicans don't replicate the disaster of 2008, they should embrace the race issue.  There are at least two ways that they can go about doing this.

Republicans can revisit Obama's memoirs, particularly his first, the subtitle of which candidly informs us is "a story" of race. To the objection that they are rehashing old news, Republicans have a response ready at hand: Obama's time as president reveals the considerable degree to which his thinking is imbued with the same racial consciousness that pervades the pages of Dreams and, to a lesser extent, The Audacity of Hope.  Both his policies—from his take over of General Motors to the leviathan of "Obamacare"—as well as his gestures—from his readiness to defend Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in Cambridge to his description of the opponents of amnesty as Hispanics' "enemies"—to his appointments—bespeak a commitment to racialist politics, Republicans could show. 

But there is another tactic that I think would be more successful.  The Republican presidential candidate should select as his or her campaign theme something like "A Return to the Founders."  This would serve more than one purpose.

First, the notion of a return to the founding would reinforce the growing sense on the part of Americans that President Obama and the Democrats are indeed resolved to destroy their country, the land bequeathed to them by their ancestors.  After all, the "fundamental transformation" of America that Obama promised is but a euphemism for its destruction.  Anyone who doubts this should consider how well he would take to being told by his spouse that she wants to "fundamentally transform" him.  For that matter, he would be well served to ask himself how she would respond if he disclosed that this was his wish for her.  The desire to "fundamentally transform" one's wife is nothing more or less than the desire for a new wife.  

Second, in provoking a serious discussion of the Founders, Republicans maneuver the Democrats—and Obama especially—into a most uncomfortable position, the logically impossible position of defending a specific group of people representing all that the left has traditionally despised.  After all, those of the Founders who set America on the path to independence were not only white and male, most were Christian, heterosexual, and committed to free markets ("capitalism").  A good number were—horror of horrors!—slaveholders.  No one who genuinely believes—as leftists believe—that America is a bastion of racial, gender, and "class" oppression can genuinely believe that America's Founders are deserving of anything but scorn.  But it would be fun to see Obama and company squirm in trying to square this circle.

Regrettably, I have little faith that the Republicans will adopt this strategy.  But I think that they would be surprised by the number of people with whom it would resonate. ESR

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D. is the proprietor of the new blog The Philosopher's Fortress which can be found at www.jackkerwick.com.  

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