The hysterical accusations of socialism from conservatives echo similar accusations leveled at black leaders in the past, as though the quest for racial parity were simply a left-wing plot. Obama may not actually be a socialist or communist, but his election would strike another powerful blow to the informal racial hierarchy that has existed in America since the 1960s, when it ceased being enforced by law. This hierarchy, which holds that whiteness is synonymous with American-ness, is one conservatives are now instinctively trying to preserve. Like black civil-rights activists of the 1960s, Obama symbolizes the destruction of a social order they see as fundamentally American, which is why terms like "socialism" are used to describe the treat.
Serwer also points out just how much of an enabler McCain and Palin have been to all this. Their exaggeration of Obama to a left-wing radical like Bill Ayers and other scary things - through ads, rallies, and surrogates - has incited a stunning amount of hatred which could, God forbid, lead to violence:
McCain, a child of privilege who spent the late 1960s in a Vietnamese prison camp, may simply be unaware of the feelings and historical context he has evoked through his campaign's rhetoric. When Sarah Palin accuses Obama of "palling around with terrorists" and suggests that Obama hates his own country enough to wish it violence, the McCain campaign fuels age-old paranoia built around the conflation of black rights and the radical left. As for McCain himself, his attempts to tamp down the vitriol of his crowds suggest that he is somewhat confused by their response. He wants voters to dislike Obama, but he seems unaware of just what he has unleashed. However, by implicitly invoking the idea that Obama represents a socialist takeover of the United States, McCain is inviting what can only be a rational response from those who would die for their country: violence. What else is a patriot to do when freedom is threatened? Especially when their fears have been validated by no less authoritative a source than the Republican nominee for president of the United States?
It is imperative not only that Obama win, of course, but that he win in a landslide. A sweeping mandate for change is the only way to knock the vicious bigots on the right off their feet, at least initially. The Bush presidency and the current economic crisis means that Obama should win anyway. But if Obama wins big, it will be a total repudiation of the ugliness not just of the past eight years but of the McCain campaign itself. If it's a close election with recounts and lawsuits that last till mid-November, the far right will believe that victory was stolen from them by a leftist black man who is not only un-American but a terrorist. I'm afraid that that type of scenario would provoke some right-wing nutjob - or many - into violence. We cannot let that happen, for all of our sakes.
So let's show the world that, in America, we still can and will stand up to this kind of right-wing propaganda and hatred. Vote, vote, VOTE on Election Day. Put Obama in the White House by a landslide, and leave the haters and the bigots on the fringe of the outside looking in. They have hurt this country too many times with their ignorance. At this pivotal moment in history, we can't let them do it again.
And we won't.