The New Southern Strategy: Anti-Women & Anti-Obama
The attacks on women and on the president's faith appeal to specific voters
Blink for too long and you might open your eyes and think that the year is 1964 and not 2012. A member of the Romney clan is running for president and the nation is debating whether women should have access to birth control. It’s a return of the culture wars. Southern Republicans in particular are busy with the doing the following all at once: playing up the war on women, disenfranchising lower income and minority voters, illustrating an extreme amount of religious intolerance while simultaneously claiming infringement on their own and playing the race card as it relates the first black President.
Their strategy could not be more clear. With their 'front runner” limping to the nomination and economic indicators showing gradual but sustained improvement, Republicans are in desperate need of issues which they can use to deflect attention and destroy the President's chances in 2012.
[ALSO READ: Top Five Attacks On Barack Obama’s Christianity]
Enter a debate over contraception under the guise of “religious freedom” for Catholics and other Christians, casting them as victims. Add on hints that President Obama does not belong to that group and is an “other,” and you have the perfect combination for both an attack on women and an attack on the President.
When Franklin Graham said on MSNBC this week that “you’d have to ask [President Obama] if he’s actually a Christian. Implying that President Obama is something else and is only pretending to be born again. The “I don’t know if Obama is a Christian” line is a familiar one that Republicans employ simply to pretend as if it’s an open question. The idea that President Obama is not a Christian but is actually a secret Muslim is one that MSNBC Host Professor Melissa Harris-Perry addressed on her new show this week saying, Muslim is actually something that you cannot be in secret because there are things that are required you do as a practicing Muslim.
The “I don’t know” line is a “dog whistle” according to University of Pennsylvania Professor of Religion Anthea Butler, who wrote this week, “Graham threw out all of the dog whistles he could, bringing up Jeremiah Wright, and pushing back on the panels’ direct question to him as to whether President Obama or not is a Christian, by saying that “you’d have to ask him.” Franklin Graham is playing a dangerous game for the RNC and his role as Dog Whistle Evangelist for whomever is the leading religious conservative candidate smacks of pandering in the worst way. Graham’s Dixie Whistle is both racially coded and religiously coded, and is designed to push white conservatives Rick Santorum’s way.”
These attacks on the President’s faith correspond with the attacks on women cloaked in a concern about faith. It’s not a coincidence. It’s a deliberate strategy by Republicans to yet again “otherize” the President and marginalize women, as soon as the road looks rocky for Republicans in this election cycle. It’s a new version of the southern strategy but it’s not going to work.