There are 24 days until Election Day. There are 24 days until we find out what this country is really made of, not what we suspect it is made of, -for better or worse. There are 24 more days of some of the lowest, saddest excuses for campaigning ever foisted upon the American public. There are 24 more days left of no real conversation about what has happened these past 8 years, or where the next 4 years will lead us. Just 24 days.
John McCain’s repudiation on Friday of many of his supporters' mob behavior was inevitable. “Inevitable”, either because of his decency and sincere egalitarian fairness, or because of his need to make a calculated denial of these sinister ploys: a necessary calculated denial in order to continue a dirty campaign that appeals to the baser, stupider fears and desires in the American Midwest and South while maintaining an appearance of being “above it all”.
I want to believe it’s the former. I want to believe that the comments from Gayle Quinnell in the Lakeville Minnesota townhall rally were so embarrassing to Senator John McCain that he finally tired of a narrative that attempts to destroy, by any means necessary, a fellow Senator just because he happens to be the opposition. I want to believe in that moment, John McCain reclaimed his dignity and his soul by refusing to engage in the criminal falsehoods and evil methodologies that Karl Rove has forced in to the national conversation about a candidate’s character and worth. I want to believe he is rejecting the same kinds of tactics, lies, and organized slander used against him in 2000.
The Lakeville Minnesota rally was filled with much of the same demographic that Karl Rove targeted in the American southeast eight years ago. I speak of that most euphemized demographic in American history: working class and poor White voters. They have been called “The Rural vote”, "The Silent Majority", "The Heartland", "Middle America", “NASCAR Dads”, “Low Information Voters” and finally a name I consider so insulting I’ll only type here on this blog, just this once “Joe Six Pack”.
It was part of this White working class and poor demographic, who bought into the lies that George W. Bush and his campaign spread about John McCain fathering mixed race children out of wedlock in the 2000 primaries in the Southeast. The shameful sting of seeing such corrosive and unfair tactics at work in his own campaign must be sobering.
I want to believe that John McCain is rejecting this philosophy.
But what does it matter what I believe? There are realities in this country of ours that cannot be denied. Our regions exist in a perpetual tension and state of stagnant opposition created by the end of the internecine civil war in the 19th century and exacerbated by the perceived or imagined injustices against the Whites by the enforcement of civil rights legislation. These rifts still inform everything we do as a nation. It still creates a priori divisions between citizens within the same political parties. It still divides families. It still pits Whites and Blacks against each other even when their mutual survival and well-being are at stake.
I want to believe John McCain doesn’t want to play this game anymore. The integrity and fairness of our political process and the discussion that informs it, are issues that are more important to me than the actual election itself. If the candidates and the media that covers them focused solely on the issues, focused squarely on the perils that face the United States and fostered discussions about the practicality of their proposed solutions, our nation would be much the better for it, regardless of who eventually became president.