By Bill Fletcher, Jr.
I have to make a terrible confession: I simply could not watch the first Republican debate for the 2016 electoral cycle. I mean it. I could not on the station to listen to what they had to say. Yes, you may condemn me as narrow-minded, but after following this developing campaign I have noticed a few things about the Republicans. First, they are still running against President Obama, despite the fact that Obama’s name cannot be on the 2016 ballot. Second, they are playing to fear rather than any sense of hope.
As for running against President Obama, it is to be found in their constant references to their need to allegedlytaking America back, phrasing that is certainly open to a racial interpretation. In addition, what can one make of their continued fixation on overturning the Affordable Care Act (so-called Obamacare), despite poll numbers which have indicated increased support for the statute plus the fact that more than 16 million people have healthcare today who did not have it two years ago?
Added to this are their unending attacks on the proposed nuclear deal with Iran. Here the Republicans play to misinformation and fear, suggesting that the deal is equivalent to the Munich accord of 1938 that was signed with the Nazis, giving them a piece of then Czechoslovakia. There is nothing in the current situation with Iran that is analogous.
The deeper problem with the Republicans can be found in their generalized appeal to fear and the irrational. The attacks on Planned Parenthood, for instance, which are based on heavily edited tapes of alleged discussions within Planned Parenthood, have played to prejudice and an ignorance of science as a means of moving a political agenda against women and their right to control their own bodies.
The attacks on immigrants-of-color, e.g., the rhetoric of Donald Trump, as being the alleged sources of the problems of the U.S.A. is not just the work of those without information, but represents mean-spirited and racist assaults on vulnerable populations, aimed at disguising those who are the real culprits behind the problems facing most people in the USA: the so-called “1 percent.”
I enjoy debates when I feel that I can actually learn something, even when I disagree with a particular debater. Emotional appeals to the irrational, and efforts to hold back the future are not enlightening. Rather than raise our intellectual interest and curiosity, they are more likely to raise our blood pressure level.
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the host of The Global African on Telesur-English. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and at www.billfletcherjr.com.