The threat of the counter-movement against the Obama era will increase, not ebb, as the white Right fully experiences the loss of their sense of privilege with the decline of their voting power. As early as Spring 2009, the Homeland Security agency issued a report noting the rise of right-wing militia violence due to the economic recession and the election of the first African-American president.
Now that the unthinkable has happened to the Right, now that Obama is free to pursue a second term, the climate of hate will fester and grow and, inevitably, some white men somewhere will lay their plans to stop him – perhaps having read The Turner Diaries – or perhaps “terrorists” will be blamed. Who can say? It has happened before and will be attempted again. Of course, security arrangements have improved and logistics are far more sophisticated; greater care is taken. There is the deterrent effect of the African-American community, vast, alert and prepared. Hopefully, it will be avoided.
On the other hand, the re-election gives whites more time to adjust to this new reality, and even find positive dividends in Obama's auto bailout and health care programs, his preservation of their Social Security, and even in his rebuke of the most extreme forms of Christian fundamentalism. The transition to younger white sensibilities will be positive as well. With a white mother, African father, and Indonesian-Hawaiin upbringing, Obama will be understood as the expression of a New Globalism, not whatever avenging Black Muslim fanatic the white fundamentalists conjure him to be.
Obama and the Democrats must and can confront the economic causes of the White Identity Crisis by initiatives like the auto bailout and spending on infrastructure and educational opportunity. In a weird historical twist, Obama's new populist opportunity is to turn the old populist scenario upside down. In the new story, a black president with community organizing experience can lessen the exclusion that working class white men, rightly or wrongly, feel in the rise of people of color and women to leadership. Dealing with the residual violent racism and sexism is another matter; it simply must be deterred, derailed and defeated.
One of the worst things about the recent pattern of anti-Obama anger coming from certain white radicals and progressives is its dehumanizing, desensitized indifference toward this president’s humanity and destiny. Given our history, all Americans, left or right, should feel a bound duty to preserve, promote and protect this man’s right to live out his legacy to its fullest potential. Only in such a peaceful, respectful process can we preserve our honor as a people.