Monday, August 24, 2009

The reaction to Obama's health care proposal

The right wing is inflamed in the US, with a focus on Obama's health care proposal. The proposal is attacked as a violation of fundamental American values in the form of creeping socialism and government control of the lives, and deaths, of citizens. At the same time, Obama himself is portrayed as not truly "American", in concrete terms as not having been born in the US and thus an illegitimate President and Commander in Chief.
I believe these issues camouflage a deeper source of anxiety for right wing Americans, who tend to be of European lineage: the feeling that they are losing their country, that the European character of the country is being lost as the population moves inexorably toward an African-American and Latino majority. In this sense, the election of Obama symbolizes this historic shift in the US population, and makes clear that a shift in the locus of power is well under way. Once people defined as "other" having taken over, who knows what changes they will put in place? The security and predictability of life for many Euro-Americans seems to be profoundly threatened.
I think there may be a still deeper reason for this fear, even panic. This land, of course, was once inhabited by non-Europeans. It was taken from them by force of violence by people of European origin. There may be a subliminal guilt that leads to fear of retaliation, of redressing of the injury by those who were killed and disenfranchised.

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