And so, on Thursday night in Tampa, the Republicans exposed the sub-text of their convention, the reason behind the animosity of the Tea-partiers. The anger driving those who see thePresident, actually most democrats, as usurpers. They consider his presence in the White House to be an offense, an abomination.
During a rambling, off-prompter speech by Clint Eastwood, the highlight of which was a conversation with an empty chair, the core phrase was uttered.
“We own this country.”
The crowd erupted with a tremendous ovation.
“We own this country”. Not you mister President, with your hidden Kenyan birth certificate. You are not of this place and do not belong here.
Now I am sure that Clint is not a birther. I cannot believe that of him. He is too intelligent to truck with that party.
And yet this sentiment echoes the Tea Party cries of “Take our country back!” Do they mean back from it’s duly elected government?
The circle of “we” has been drawn and includes the mostly white, mostly privileged participants of the convention. It beckons, come and be with us, not with “them”.
This sort of tribalism springs from a deeply human source. The urge to tag “us” from “them” no doubt has an evolutionary favored component.
It continues the attempts to paint the President as outside, “not from around here”, somehow a scary “other”, that sprang up during the ’08 campaign and accelerated as his term in office proceeded.
It asks undecideds to vote with “us”, not with the “others”. It kills any hope of an appeal to African-Americans or Hispanics.
It is simply an attempt to maximize the base vote, especially the white non-college educated component.
They have made the calculation that tribalism will sound an alluring call heard by the target demographic.
It is a sign of desperation.