In response to the bitter tone of the campaign concluded this week, my friend Ted Delaplaine came up with thoughtful words on voting day.
“I would just like to remind everyone that no matter who wins…that the republic is strong and will survive. This is not a life and death thing that so many make out of it to be. A vision thing, of course, but we don’t have to worry about a Stalinist takeover on the one case and poor folks shoveled into the sea in the other.”
Ted reacted to the angriest political oratory in my memory. I was born the year Republican Herbert Hoover took over the White House from the equally GOP Calvin Coolidge. I was four years old when Franklin Delano Roosevelt replaced Mr. Hoover. The wrath against FDR escaped me, mostly because I was growing up in the deeply Democratic South during the Great Depression. Republicans were represented by pictures in books.
Louisiana school textbooks argued that the GOP faithful were cruel and barbarous, particularly during the Union Army occupation of New Orleans; carpetbaggers fared no better. I joined the Army before integration and Richard M. Nixon changed my area into the GOP influence zone. Still segregation remains potent in the region.
Wednesday morning the Ole Miss campus spluttered with rage. Racist signs appeared. Unheard for years epithets against blacks were heard in the streets of the university town of Oxford. I wrote a TheTentacle.com column stating much of the anti-president opposition was racial. (I was in sense inoculated by Uncle William; the former slave tended me as a child. He was so kind and wise that I never dumped his fellow African Americans in a semi-barbaric, always criminal lump.)
Barack Hussein Obama is half-white and the other part is Kenyan; furthermore he has a Muslim name, inherited from his father. He seemed a loser on both counts. His victory in 2008 was attributed to many causes, particularly luck. Republican Mitt Romney seemed a shoo-in this election.
The GOP nomination is Mormon; that didn’t help. Most people saw him as a threat to their way of life; they voted for his competitor. His running mate, Catholic Paul Ryan, didn’t strengthen the ticket; they even lost his birth state, Wisconsin. Sweeping along his slate, Mr. Ryan promised to dismantle “Obamacare,” putting medical help for the elderly and infirm on vouchers.
Mr. Romney came up with his definition of the Middle Class, anyone who made upper of $250,000. His capitalist ventures through Bain made him the target for Democrats. He lost early. On election night, he was declared politically dead in the Electoral College before midnight. Wednesday morning his lead among the electorate was gone.
First Republican president Abraham Lincoln, in his Second Inaugural speech, in the last paragraph said:
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds…”
My native South ignored him for almost 80 years, until after World War II. This week’s elections may fall into the same category for those on the losing side; they may persist in the struggle against the president, for all sorts of reasons – not necessarily because Barack Hussein Obama is black and bears a Muslim name.