America's White Male Problem
The American political process is being hijacked by a reckless, whining dangerous gang of psychologically damaged white men who are far-right ideologues. I used to be one of them. It's time to tell the truth about our white male problem.
Not everyone who disagrees with the president is a racist. Not even most people who do are. But the continuous attempt by the white far-right in Congress to shut down the government rather than work with our black president has a lot to do with racism. And lurching from manufactured crisis to crisis isn't about politics; it's about pathology. It doesn't make sense politically to take the blame for risking America's future -- and the Republicans know they will take the blame -- so how can we conclude other than something else is going on here?
I’m not talking about the white young male mass murderers we’re afflicted with carrying assault rifles courtesy of the NRA. I’m talking about the white far-right males who hijacked the 112th Congress and are set to destroy the 113th. They have metaphorically done to our country what the killer in Newtown literally did to 20 children, and for the same apparent reason: alienation from the mainstream and retreat to a paranoid delusional fantasy land of -- literal -- mental impairment.
This has less to do with politics and more to do with the fear and mental illness that grips a willfully ignorant minority of white males. But the mainstream media is talking about everything but the underlying racial, cultural and mental health issues afflicting the white male minority of far-right congressmen holding us all hostage. And the extreme insanity of the right-wing rhetoric over the last four years, from "birther" to Obama-is-a-Muslim etc., conclusively points to something other than politics.
The manufactured crisis we face are not about economics. These self-inflicted wounds are about a few people's fear of being marginalized.
It's not considered polite to mention race anymore. But I'm going to mention it anyway. We have a white problem.
I'm a 60-year-old white male father and grandfather. My son served in the Marines. I own a gun. I have handwritten notes from George Bush Sr, Jr, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford both to me and to my late father expressing gratitude for our contributions to the "fight" for traditional values and the Republican "cause." Been there, done that!
I spent my youth not only as part of the Republican Party but helping to organize the culture wars that have come near to destroying our country. I have worked with the very kind of people who are now the hard-core Republican right. But I have changed my views. I may not be one of them any longer, but I bring an insider's knowledge to the table.
Overlay a map of the states with the safe gerrymandered congressional districts that sent us the Tea Party Republicans hijacking our country and you'll find it's the same map by and large of the former slave states.
Map of slave states
The anxiety of losing white long-held power at the expense of minority and marginalized constituencies like women and gays has metastasized into outright hatred of everything and anything President Obama would suggest. Racism has combined with fear.
The fear is of a world in which white (mostly) evangelical Republicans lose power... forever. The country has moved on, but the safe Republican gerrymandered districts have not. These folks are literally living in a fool's paradise whose time has come and gone.
The white Republican hijackers of our Congress talk about smaller federal government and out-of-control federal spending, states’ rights and the Defense of Marriage Act. These are the defenders of 30-round magazines and personal arsenals, Kevlar-piercing cop-killing bullets, access to unlimited numbers of semiautomatic weapons and lethal handguns carried in public -- all in the name of the Second Amendment.
The mainstream media doesn't have the courage to say it, but the Second Amendment "defense" is nothing to do with today's loud defense of "gun rights." The truth of the matter is that there is a subculture of frightened white Republicans who see their own government as a threat. They've embraced ignorance and a fact-free life that denies evolution, gay-rights, the demographic changes in America, and above all, the fact that their fellow countrymen have rescinded our entire history of racist bigotry and voted for a black man for president. They just can't accept this.
Patterns of red/blue voting show up if you break up the state-by-state vote by sex or race:
The common thread that runs through the Republicans' "issues" of the day has little to do with those issues per se. What it's really about is the fear of a future in which traditional white male power structures dissolve.
The true crux of the friction with the White House and the Democrats and indeed with most Americans -- including most women living in the South and many Southern men as well -- lies in the racial history of Reconstruction, Jim Crow and slavery.
The lies about our federal government -- that somehow they are in league with the United Nations, to the point where we can't even sign an international declaration on the rights of the handicapped! – have nothing to do with the stated objectives. This is like a family argument where an uncle shows up at the dinner table and argues with everyone not because he actually disagrees but because he's feeling alienated from the family.
Simple palpable hatred drives these people to willful ignorance. The white males insisting on carrying guns (in a country where violent crime is way down!) are scared, not of muggers, but of the fact that their imaginary reality is coming unstuck.
They're too smart to believe that Fox News spin on reality is reality. Most of these folks are too smart to believe in their evangelical theology either. I'll bet at heart many are atheists or at least doubters, well aware of the hypocrisies and inanities of evangelical Christianity. But they put on an act of upholding what they believe are the traditional standards we need to live by, which really boils down to little more than white resentment.
These Republicans are from safely gerrymandered districts so they have little to lose and something to gain by “holding the line” against public opinion and the president, even if it continually pushes the country to the brink.
The fact is that many flag-waving American Republican males these days are horribly unpatriotic. Not since the 1960s and the far-left of the Weather Underground have we seen people who hate America so deeply. Some of the Republican "patriots" hate this country so much they join secessionist movements and interpret their "right to bear arms" as a right to build personal arsenals against that day when the federal government comes to "take away our freedoms."
House Republicans like to say that Americans voted for a divided government. They say that “gridlock” is what becomes it. But that’s not true. The Democrats won 50.6% of the votes for president, to 47.8% for the Republicans; 53.6% of the votes for the Senate, to 42.9% for the Republicans.
A state of panic exists because Republican members of Congress demand a state of paralysis. They want to freeze the world as it is because the new world doesn't have room for white male bigots who base their lives on Bronze Age mythology and white, privileged, Jeffersonian-style institutional racism. Their real ideology has nothing to do with gun rights, fighting against abortion or reducing the size of the federal deficit, but has everything to do with their own personal psychological turmoil.
These people are literally ill with fear. And their world is turning lopsided. There is a black man in the White House and he's winning, and worst of all he's self-evidently smarter than they are. He's not even angry!
It is time for the mainstream media to stop playing the Republican extremists' game. Let's talk about racism and white Southern males who can't get with the program. Let's talk about what's really going on with gun rights, which has nothing to do with hunting or home protection or even the Second Amendment, but has everything to do with the delusional paranoia of people who really believe the world is out to get them because it's changing.
Let's talk about the fact that there never was a fiscal cliff, just a dysfunctional Congress hijacked by the white males who turned the Tea Party into their cry of anguish.
The real problem we face is racism, bigotry and willful ignorance in the face of our changing demographics, spiritual beliefs and the challenge that postmodern thought poses to people stuck in Bronze Age thinking. These haters are a minority in the South, but they have -- through gerrymandering -- given the whole South a black eye. The millions of tolerant Southern white men, women and all the rest of us wherever we're from need to rise up and condemn this charade.
The real problem we face is not economics or gun ownership or what happens to Planned Parenthood, but how we can reintegrate a few hurting marginalized white males in Congress and their most ardent delusional supporters into a better future while stopping them from using self-created political stalemate to burn down the house we all share.
Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back.To book Frank Schaeffer to speak at your college, church or group contact him at Frankschaeffer.com