Be forewarned. It's 2:20 a.m. Later in this post you will read sentences that could be construed as racist. When you do, remember these italicized words: I am commenting on the possible thoughts of others, not describing my own. And it's way too late for me to revise this. So there.
I've blogged here and here about the serendipity of the iPod. But tonight I found that my adored white rectangle is also a ruthless political truth-teller.
Around 11 p.m. tonight, Large Dog and I set out for our walk. It's been a rough week, but I felt strong and peaceful despite a menu of disappointing news. My mother's white count is next to nothing, a nasty war is afoot between Georgia and Russia, and John Edwards - a politician who articulated so many of my dreams and concerns - admitted to a cliche' affair.
But it was a bit cooler today, if still humid. I'd just finished an audio book and thought, "Change of plans. Shuffle Songs." I won't bore you with the details, but off we went to a random playlist that started with "Don't Dream It's Over" by Crowded House and ended with "Chelsea Hotel #2" by Leonard Cohen.
My epiphany hit right in the middle, courtesy of The Pretenders*:
No, my head wasn't split open with a divine solution to my broken washing machine crisis. And, like many metaphors in my unskilled hands, this one is far from perfect. But think on these lyrics:
In a nutshell, this is the Obama campaign's Southern White Problem. And Blue Collar White Problem. And Hillary Lovin' Steel Worker Problem. And Evangelical White Problem.There go the whites
Mmm, getting whiter
There go the colors
There go the delicates
Through the final rinse
There goes my Saturday night
I go without a fight
There. I've said it. Don't hate me yet.
I will fight to the death anyone who says all southerners - particularly all Texans - are racists. We're not. Neither are all Northerners ready to join hands and sing "Kumbaya." But the rumblings are out there. If you lined up 100 "I think Obama might be a Muslim" spouters and scratched their surfaces, how many times do you think you would find honest theological worry? Come on. It's code.
Those of you who actually talk with me know my belief that Edwards was essential to Obama's middle-South success with white male voters. But today the Delicate - the perfectly coiffed poor-boy-made-good many less fortunate or uneducated southerners hold up as proof it is possible to succeed without family contacts or inheritance - went through the Final (Blond) Rinse.
Some who fit the Red State demographic profile see Obama and think, "There go the colors/Getting brighter," while others (Toby Keith, anyone?) have no trouble whatsoever articulating - however obliquely - the stereotype of the Uppity N*gger.
And it goes without saying that as the economy flounders, the election nears, and these rumblings come nearer the surface, "There go the whites/Mmm, getting whiter." I don't know about you, but I've not seen many faces of color on the campaign trail with Senator McCain.
I worry that November's final demographic breakdowns may not make us particularly proud.
Here, in my little part of Texas, the Obama volunteers are of every color, shape, age, and background. This, to me, is what is truly revolutionary about his candidacy. This is what drove my choice. This is what will win the election - outreach to both new voters and stalwart believers in principles the Democrats hold dear.
What will lose it - for either side - is for any portion of the constituency to think, "There goes my Saturday night/I go without a fight" and stay home, watching the clothes go round, on the second Tuesday in November.
*My apologies...I could not find a Pretenders performance clip of this tune. I do hope you will click on the song links early in the post, particularly "Chelsea Hotel." Classic Leonard.