Saturday, October 16, 2010

Obama and Othering

The many Obamas.

There is a high level of anger and frustration in the United States these days and many reasons to feel so. Employment still remains a high concern for many citizens and opportunities continue to disappear. The hope of many cities to return to glory days isn't little more that a wishful dream. With the continual departure of jobs to cheaper factories and cheaper labor costs, once jobs disappear it is unlikely they will return. When economic times get tough, the once stable and manageable relationships among citizens become a little bit less so.

One of the "Faces" of the Tea Party.
It almost seems like an afterthought, but there has been tremendous change during the last couple years: the election of Obama as president, a very large domestic policy shift with equally divisive laws enacted, and an undercurrent that things are changing. The ability of someone like Glenn Beck to become an overnight leader highlights the feeling that many Americans have about the changes taking place. The Tea Party Movement has become a force to be reckoned with, both for those on the left and right of politics. What we know about this movement is that it is composed of predominantly white, male, married, over 45, and Republican folks. What has emerged as an "angry" group of citizens wanting to reclaim and take back their  country highlights the sense of normalcy and identity for citizens who long for yesteryear. However, these fond memories are amnesic because we've been growing further and further apart for quite a while. MSNBC has done a really interesting photoblog of some of the faces of the Tea Party.

Some of the most striking examples of this distance and identification of the "other" has been growing considerably just in the last few years, especially as Obama emerged as a candidate and then when he was elected to office. Just today, there are stories about Obama being portrayed a a terrorist, gangster, Mexican bandit, and as a gay man. It has only recently been taken down. It had the title, "Vote DemocRAT." Nice. Billboards, the American way to advertise, have highlighted the feelings across the country by those who see Obama as something quite distinct from themselves. You know, black. 

So I'm left to wonder: what would make everything all right for those who oppose everything going on today with regards to Democratic control, legislation, and the highest office held by none other than Barack Obama? 

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