The smile of the ebullient second place winner of the Republican Caucus in Iowa, former Senator Rick Santorum, is the front for a dark streak in the American consciousness that makes the skin crawl when you think for a moment of what it’s done in slavery times and after that. And when he tells his supporters in his post-voting celebration, “you have taken the first step of taking back this country,” he sounds like he has a little Nazi in him as well. For those who may have been slow to connect the dots, Santorum had said the day before in Sioux City, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money and provide for themselves and their families.” We know who he is and so do others.
Writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, Robert Reich commented “As political analyst Michael Lind has noted, today’s Tea Party is less an ideological movement than the latest incarnation of an angry white minority – predominantly Southern, mainly rural, largely male – that has repeatedly attacked American democracy in order to get its way.
“America has had a long history of white Southern radicals who will stop at nothing to get their way – seceding from the Union in 1861, refusing to obey civil rights legislation in the 1960s, shutting the government in 1995, and risking the full faith and credit of the United States in 2010. It’s no coincidence that the states responsible for putting the most Tea Party representatives in the House are all former members of the Confederacy. Others are from border states with significant Southern populations and Southern ties.”
In light of this resurgence of the Confederate mindset, it was a frightening and we pray not short-sighted decision for President Obama to allow indefinite detention of American citizens when he signed the National Defense Authorization Act. In the key phrase of the accompanying signing document he says, “I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens” but of course a future administration might, and it would only take a nightmare event for the third in line of Presidential Succession, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, to take office.
Michael Lind is right when he says that white Southern radicals “will stop at nothing to get their way.” And when you see as improbable a candidate as Rick Santorum surging forward in any part of the country, then you know that this is a time of dark possibilities and unthinkable things in America. And that good people must unite and speak up. We don’t mean to be alarmist, but there may not be much time.