While America gets used to the idea of an Obama win and the various punditocracies out there spelunk the finer points of what it means to call Barney Frank a f@--ot and John Lewis a ni--er, rest assured that the messaging spooks at Fox News are preparing a smorgasbord of cultural atrocities aimed at harming Democrats in the midterm elections that will make the above look relatively harmless.
What will Fox News and the rest of the right wing media do? Only time will tell regarding the specifics, but we know there will be a fair amount of dog-whistle racism (as well as pie-eyed denials thereof), some red-baiting, and we know there will be no effective unified comeback from the left. The counter-propaganda from the reasonable majority will be intelligent, well considered, and all over the place, the right wing crazies will keep saying the same thing over and over, and we will stay up all night on the first Tuesday of November to see how bad the damage is.
Fox News and the pilot fish of GOP messaging on the radio and Internet do not appeal to the deep-thinkers of our nation. They stand in the middle of the crowd and say exactly what everyone in that crowd thinks. Mob rules. They keep things simple. It doesn't matter if the simplifications sire untruths.
The birther movement is a good example. Fox News may not have whelped the lie that Obama was born in Kenya, but it lent the lie popular credence. Behind that lie was an old American racial fear -- the dark other, filled with hate and envy, will cause you (white (male) person) harm, etc. The email lists on the right combined with talk radio and Fox News have kept pushing the fear of a black planet, and we've seen groups like the birthers and teabaggers grow. Base emotionalism beats the most basic humanism and intellectual curiosity nine times out of ten.
The health care bill will be used as a cudgel to beat back the threat of big government. Makes sense that a black president would push "entitlement programs," right? Who will answer Fox News, the dittoheads, and the right wing echo chamber? MSNBC will do what it can to combat the evil empire, as will Media Matters, but with no organizing principle on the progressive side -- nowhere near as many well-endowed think tanks, no clear and well-funded movement, no bright shiny central messaging place where people know they can go for the answer -- the result is questionable.
What does all this have to do with birthers and health care reform? Yesterday's 219-212 vote will eventually give birth to something wonderful. Not a single Republican voted for it because this historical vote may well lead to universal health care. The gestation period will be long--first we had to get a little insurance industry reform in place--but what Republicans and the insurance industry fear most is universal health care, and, thanks to Obama and the passage of this bill, it is a possibility in the years to come. It is a major accomplishment.
The elections this fall are going to be lost or won, to some extent, this week. It is dangerous to rest now, or gripe. This huge accomplishment is only a beginning and one that needs to be fostered and protected, lauded and bragged about. That has to happen now. We need to push back on health care bill push-back or we're going to be beating back a wildfire of popular fear and loathing that will only distract from the important work that still needs to be done.