This years slate of Republican presidential candidates are living proof of the rise of ‘know nothings’ in American politics.
Quickly many might object to this characterisation: Romney is a Harvard man with an MBA and law degree; Gingrich holds a ph.d. in history; Ron Paul is a medical doctor, and Rick Santorum is a University of Pittsburgh MBA. Put all the learning together does not make for smartness. In fact, what all these men of politics and influence peddling and business exploit is the masses popular fears of a US in serious economic trouble in a world which challenges America’s ideal of itself as a swaggering superpower with the right of a seigneur to deflower [read regime change] any country that goes against its will.
Romney, Gingrich, Paul, and Santorum play all too willing, by any and all means necessary, on xenophobia, anti Muslim sentiment, and the popular fear that undocumented Spanish speaking immigrants will overwhelm, if not drown, the once predominantly white USA in a sea of brown. In this they pick up the dropped stitches of the largely middle-class Tea Party, financed by the super wealthy, who see in foreigners, American Muslims, and Hispanics hostile elements to American values as they see them.
And eager to defeat a black president, all the candidates will embrace ideas which are more or less patently questionable if not false. So out of the window goes any learning worth a damn in favour of appealing to the basest popular sentiment of the growing immiseration of the middle classes who standard of living is greatly challenged by the 2008 global recession brought about by Wall Street bankers; of stirring the fires of fear that children and grandchildren of Baby Boomers will not live the ‘good life’ of their parents born in the luxury and comfort of post world war two America.
The endless debates among the Republican candidates vying for their party’s nomination for the presidency in 2012 have given rise to dimness and dumbness in ideas as though these very men, very comfortable if not very much, had been seized by madness. In their pursuit of power, they have dusted off the much discredited notions ‘nativism’.
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