May 8, 2009
By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
As the Republican Party continues to be soundly rejected by the U.S. electorate at the polls, some of its leaders have decided that the Party of Lincoln needs an extreme makeover. Actually, they appear to believe that the GOP simply needs to change its image, as opposed to fundamentally changing the party itself.
Translated, this means that it has been determined by some GOPers that its Guns, Gays & God message has to change. On the other hand, many others seem to think the new message has to include: Gohome! Enter the National Council for a New America (NCNA); its primary objective seems to be to determine whether the party traditionally identified as in touch with the rich and traditionally identified as a war party, will also become a European-style anti-immigrant party. Leading the effort of this council are oldies-but-goodies: Jeb Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Eric Cantor.
This council appears to be media saavy or appears to be cognizant that a shift in that ultra-nationalistic direction has the potential to change not simply the GOP’s narrative, but the national narrative itself. Those from this council are up against the likes of Rush Limbaugh-Lou Dobbs and Dick Cheney and other extreme right wing forces who fear that the nation not simply the GOP is in danger of leaving its national narrative behind, a narrative consisting of myths and legends that have been part of the national psyche and character since its founding.
Arguably, the Limbaugh-Dobbs-Cheney wing of the American political spectrum is correct; the Old America they cling on to or want to cling on to no longer exists. And yet, the truth is, the narrative that the council longs for which views America as the beacon of the world, as the land of truth, freedom and liberty and justice for all has also always been a [religious] myth.
That narrative has always down-played genocide, land theft and land removal, slavery, segregation and legalized discrimination. It nowadays downplays border walls, racial profiling and an ever-expanding racialized prison system. That narrative has also downplayed the notion of empire and militarism, instead converting these imperial projects with the notion of a God-given right to “civilize” or dominate the world. This is the idea of Providence and Manifest Destiny. It is what drove our recent president, George W. Bush in his war against the Arab and Islamic world; he was on a mission from God. This is why U.S. and international laws were easily ignored or discarded; he was answering to a higher authority.
In this sense, both wings are similar; both want to promote Great American mythologies. Engrained into the national psyche is that this is a “nation of immigrants.” With the browning of America, some within the GOP rightly fear that a Dobbs-immigration obsessed nation which clamors for 2,000 miles of militarized walls along the U.S./Mexico border will drive New Americans away from the Republican Party. This is where the struggle over image takes place, though it is difficult to discern a difference. The Dobbs wing is brazenly anti-immigrant, though it is always insistent that they are only anti-illegal immigrant not anti-immigrant. Yet Romney’s views are very similar to Dobbs. In fact McCain, always touted as a moderate on immigration, buckled under extreme right wing pressure during his 2008 presidential bid.
In that sense, is that what this New America will look like made up of people who believe that dehumanization is as American as apple pie?
The tragedy is that those within the GOP that believe in the Old and New America, all continue to cling to the belief that the United States has the inherent right to war on the world. The only difference is that some believe that this right comes direct from God, whereas the others believe it is simply a cultural or even genetic right due to American exceptionalism.
The real question is whether Democrats bring different views on this topic. Some are quick to note that on the issue of the national narrative, there is little or no difference between the parties. These same observers are quick to note that President Barack Obama is but the latest steward with melanin for the military-imperial interests that control the nation.
While true that change does not occur overnight, there is little doubt that whoever is at the helm does make a difference. Yet, what we do know is that positive change generally comes from the bottom. Whether one president can change the national narrative is another matter.
Published on LatinoLA: May 6, 2009