And if they’re right, they’ll keep the Senate this fall.
Buchanan, in an interview with the Daily Caller today, predicted that the violence in Ferguson and the perceived enabling of race hustlers and leftist revolutionaries there will generate a massive negative reaction by America’s “silent majority” at the polls in November.
Buchanan might be right, but of course his perspective is that of a veteran of the Nixon administration. Richard Nixon was elected in a massive rout in 1968, following months of roiling civil unrest in America’s cities. Nixon spoke of that silent majority not taking to the streets thanks to their interest in more productive pursuits such as jobs and family, and it worked for him.
2014 is not 1968. For a couple of reasons.
First, the riots and unrest of 1968 stand as a far larger moment of turbulence in American history than the low-yield rabble demonstrating nightly in Ferguson. And second, the America of 1968, and most notably Nixon’s silent majority which spoke so loudly at the polls that fall, simply doesn’t exist as a coherent body today.
It’s unrealistic to think that one week-long, or two weeks long, period of chaos in a lower-class St. Louis suburb would generate the kind of reaction in middle-class America that burning cities from Philadelphia to Oakland did some 46 years ago. The vast majority of the American people are safely insulated from any real effects of Ferguson, and while cable TV news and the internet can certainly deliver the events from there across the country in real time, the interest in Ferguson is more like voyeuristic curiosity than it is a matter of personal security as most Americans perceived as city after city exploded in violence in 1968.
Of course, for the Hard Left and the Democrat constituencies participating in Ferguson or cheering the revolutionaries on, it has to feel like their own version of 1968. They are engaged and excited – and they’re being egged on by the Obama administration and its allies. That Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, International ANSWER, the Occupy people, Anonymous and the New Black Panthers are all involved in Ferguson is no accident; Ferguson is an opportunity for them to find recruits, earn publicity and energize their networks of activists and the disaffected.
And that’s what the Obamunists are counting on. Which is why Eric Holder is now descending on Ferguson, and why he’s demanding a pointless third autopsy of Michael Brown’s body. It’s also why Holder’s Justice Department demanded that the local police not release the surveillance camera footage of the robbery Brown committed mere minutes before he was shot to death by Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson PD. To demand that the police withhold information about the case, when the release of that information was not a posthumous character assassination of Brown but rather a window into his demeanor at the time he was shot (which in itself doesn’t justify Brown’s shooting but it does lay down a pattern by which it becomes understandable that a dangerous confrontation with a cop could lead to tragedy a few minutes later), is hardly a matter of law enforcement; it’s a matter of politics. And with all of DOJ’s resources and Holder/Obama’s credibility within that community, it’s telling that the release of the robbery video set off a fresh round of violence in Ferguson amid what looked like a lack of engagement from Washington in exhorting people not to loot, burn, shoot and pummel.
Michael Brown is thus the next Trayvon Martin. And Obama and his allies want to exploit him for votes the way they used Trayvon’s corpse in 2012.
Buchanan thinks that strategy will backfire. Perhaps he’s right; certainly it would say positive things about the character of the current American electorate should voters take to the polls and reject this demagoguery in November. It isn’t as though Obama has earned the credibility of the voters with his performance on virtually any other issue, and it isn’t that the majority of Americans are satisfied with the level of racial harmony Obama, who sold himself as a racial healer when running for the office he now holds back in 2008, has produced in his time as president.
But that isn’t the calculus of the Obama team. And while they might be grasping at straws for a winning issue in the midterms as their prospects continue to dim, this isn’t just desperation. It’s part of an overarching strategy.
Obama’s survival, amid his disastrous governance on virtually every significant issue, has been dependent on his ability to rally his base coalition of support – blacks, Hispanics, gays, milennials, public employee union members, single women and academics – while degrading the morale of conservatives and right-leaning moderates. Obama has created, effectively, a perception among conservatives that the damage he’s doing to the country they love is permanent and therefore the prospects for the nation’s future are dim – and that disgust has led to the kind of apathy which chased some three million conservatives from the polls in 2012. Either that, or the disgust he actively pursues leads to desperation on the Right which brings mistakes like the birther movement, conspiracy theories about whether he’s a Muslim, FEMA concentration camps and the like. Which he then uses to pump up his own base.
And Ferguson is more of the same. With Ferguson, Obama and his allies get to push the meme that black people can’t get a fair shake from the police anywhere in the country – a dreadful narrative to be sure, considering that as Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley said tonight in a particularly good segment with Brett Baier’s all-star panel, it’s not the police but black criminals who are killing young black men in staggering numbers. They’re also pushing the persistence of institutionalized white racism and fanning black rage at that bogeyman without slapping down the lynch-mob mentality of the New Black Panther-led Ferguson rabble chanting their desire for Wilson’s blood – trial or no trial. While the majority of America would surely recoil from such antics, the Democrat base has little trouble with it and actually supports such atrocious conduct. If you disagree, feel free to explain the delight at Rick Perry’s indictment in the Democrat fever swamps, or their support for the IRS’ persecution of Tea Party groups.
There is no particular purchase for Republican Senate candidates in states outside Missouri to involve themselves in Ferguson, and as such there is no reason why the GOP base should be galvanized by it. Not like Obama’s base will be if the violence and “police repression” continues there. Sprinkle in some Brown idolatry a la Trayvon, in which “Don’t Shoot! Hands Up!” becomes the new hoodie, regardless of the actual facts of the Brown case, and you now have a national meme to reach gullible, low-information, pop-culture voters. We’re already seeing that, as tweets have surfaced from many of the usual suspects – John Legend, Michael Moore, Martha Plimpton.
So Obama’s calculus, which might be borne of disadvantage in a rough midterm cycle, is the same as it was in 2012 – offend and dispirit the other side, pander to his own. Many among the Democrat coalition will look upon the federal prosecution of Darren Wilson, and the societal shaming of the “repressive” white middle class he’s bound to represent by the end of this episode once it’s fully spun, as a deliverable, and Obama and Holder will do everything they can to deliver it in time for the election.
It’s what he does. Buchanan, and those who believe as he does, had better not take for granted that Brown-as-Trayvon is a failed strategy.