Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Central Role of Mythology, White Supremacy, Capitalist Hegemony and Ideological Hubris in Modern American Politics Since 1945

NOTE: The following piece is an excerpt from a much longer forthcoming essay-in-progress on the cumulative societal effects of Modern American Political History since 1945:

by Kofi Natambu
The Panopticon Review

...There are many debilitating myths about American history in general and American politics in particular. In fact it could be said that the widespread intellectual and social reliance, even obsessive dependency, on this enormous cobweb of lies, distortions, half truths, misrepresentations, and fallacies have contributed to an atmosphere of social discourse that is often drowning in a cesspool of rhetorical evasions and blatantly false assertions. One of the most dangerous and paralyzing of these myths has to do with the alleged progressive attitudes and values of the national white American electorate—especially in the so-called modern era since the end of World War II. One of the persistent articles of faith of this mythology has it that since the popular notion of the ‘American Century’ (which we now often rather arrogantly refer to as the recent history of ‘Amercian exceptionalism’) emerged as a slogan following the collective defeat by the Allies of the United States, Europe, (and ironically by the then Soviet Union) of the global forces of fascism led of course by the German Nazi Party, there has been an endless promotion in the media, popular culture, and in academia of the idea that the United States is fundamentally a progressive, forward looking nation that deeply loves and supports democracy and is a firm believer in the systemic eradication of all forms and vestiges of such virulently anti-democratic, repressive, and reactionary ideas and practices as institutional and structural racism, sexism, class oppression and exploitation, homophobia, and imperial militarism. However even a cursory examination of the actual history of the U.S. since 1945 indicates that this reading of a substantial majority of the white American electorate is not merely inaccurate and off the mark but delusional.

For a stark and very significant example consider what the national voting record of white Americans in presidential elections has been since 1948. It was in that year that former Vice President Harry Truman first ran for the office as the Democratic Party candidate following the untimely death of his predecessor President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in April of 1945 (who in November 1944 had won the presidency for an unprecedented fourth term—a future possibility that was eliminated by the passage of the twenty second amendment to the constitution in 1947 which stated that no presidential incumbent could henceforth serve more than two terms). However despite this new ruling and the fact that both the far left and far rightwing segments of the national Democratic Party bolted from Truman candidacy and ran their own independent campaigns (i.e. former Vice President in Roosevelt’s last administration in 1944 Henry Wallace of the Progressive Party and then Democratic Senator Strom Thurmond of the openly racist and segregationist “Dixiecrat” Party) Truman was still able to garner 53% of the white vote nationally, that along with the heavily truncated 71% of the black vote was barely enough to provide Truman with a surprising but very narrow victory over his Republican opponent New York Governor Thomas Dewey, whom the media and most political pundits had erroneously predicted would easily beat Truman.

What’s also significant about the national presidential election of 1948 is that except for only ONE other occasion in the past 64 years(!) the Democratic candidate for President (whether he was an incumbent or not) has failed to receive anywhere near a majority of the national white vote. Please allow me to repeat this harrowing statistic: In the last 16 presidential elections following Truman’s victory in 1948 and going back 64 years to the next presidential election in 1952, a substantial majority of white American voters have voted for the Republican candidate--again whether he was the incumbent or not--15 times. The ONLY exception in the past six decades is 1964 when former Vice President Lyndon Johnson, who assumed the presidency following John F. Kennedy’s assassination in November of 1963, ran on his own for the office a year later vs. arch conservative and rightwing political reactionary Barry Goldwater. Clearly, in what was essentially a national sympathy vote for the successor of the slain President Kennedy, Johnson received a whopping 60% of the national white vote, a figure that hasn’t been reached by any presidential candidate in the Democratic Party in the fifty years since; one would have to go back 70 years to 1944 in Franklin’s Roosevelt’s last presidential victory to find any Democratic Party candidate who won as large of a percentage of the white vote. In fact in the last 16 presidential elections Democratic Party candidates have only won a cumulative national average of 38% of the white vote. 

So the obvious question looms: What do these dramatic statistics tell us about the modern white American electorate since 1945? Well for starters it clearly tells us that the average white voter in general since 1945 has not supported and does not currently support a progressive social and economic agenda by the government. Of course this may change at some point in the near future (say in a decade from now) but I highly doubt it will change anytime soon in the foreseeable future (i.e. the next two national presidential election cycles leading up to and probably including 2020)...