Is election 2008 turning into a farcical version of Night of the Living Dead?
This weekend, Gary Kamiya of Salon.com offered this disturbing analysis:
Observing the Sarah Palin phenomenon, does anyone feel like they’re trapped in a singularly creepy remake of “Night of the Living Dead”? George W. Bush has been a political corpse for years. But Palin resembles a female version of Bush, brought back from the grave to win the election.
You wouldn’t think that the Republicans would want to exhume Bush. After all, his presidency has been a historic disaster, and the American people know it. But Bush was successful at one thing: winning elections. With its policies and ideology in ruins, Bush’s political game plan is all that the GOP has left.
That game plan, suggests Kamiya, is simple and straightforward.
It’s the culture war:
Palin represents the reappearance of the one part of Bush that never died — the culture warrior. Democrats may have forgotten about the notorious red state-blue state divide, or hoped that the failures of the last eight years had made it go away. But it hasn’t. It’s been there all along. If Palin catapults McCain to victory, it will be revealed to be the most powerful and enduring force in American politics. And that fact will raise serious questions about the viability of American democracy itself.
When Kamiya speaks of the viability of democracy itself being at stake, he seems to be intuiting something about the culture war that is always just below the surface.
That is its deadness.
In other words, the culture war lives off the body of democracy and cannibalizes it, but does not have anything living about it.
It survives on resentment and fear—but doesn’t produce anything itself—and makes it difficult or impossible to have a rational conversation, or to speak to issues or policy.
In other words, it’s too tightly bound to fear and emotional primitiveness to honestly deliberate, debate, and think.
Each election cycle, all the far-right culture warriors can do are chase after, destroy, and feast upon whatever batch of snobbish “elites” and “threats” that they can identify.
It is a ritual of gleeful consumption and disposal every four years.
In 2004 it was the French speaking John Kerry. In 2008 it’s the suspiciously finicky eating Obama.
And that’s exactly the way Republican strategists want it.
It’s a way for them to avoid having to take democracy and the electorate seriously, and to respect the human mind.
Democracy can simply devolve into a game of “gotcha”—of personalities engaged in an elaborate playing of cat and mouse: