Wednesday, October 10, 2012

2012.10.10 My Take

Every commentater and media blaster has a theory about why President Obama failed to be more forceful in the first presidential debate.  And everyone seems to be angry. And most people have a list of shoulds about what he should have done. And some are shifting their votes to Romney, one friend to the Green candidate Jill Stein.

I want to ring in with my own theory, which to date no one I've mentioned this to agrees with.  Nevertheless...........

A a religious woman I know the power of image and symbol to motivate and influence the human mind and emotions.  If I were lost in a foreign land with no compass and no companion and I saw an American flag I'd head for it. In like fashion I'd head for a Christian symbol, any kind of cross.

Gov. Romney presented a powerful symbol in the debate of last week, an image familiar, that of the political Marlboro man or the heroic cowboy: a man who stood straight and tall, facing anything with confidence—a man who looked the part of a hero who could save. A patriarchal figure, with stance and hand gestures and confrontational braveur to match. Romney is a white man.

President Obama had the body of language of someone who looked as if he had to answer to his opponent, his "master." He stood on one leg and shifted about. His eye contact was poor; he was taking notes and didn't face off much.  He also looked tight, angry and, to my projection, vulnerable.  He didn't look like a hero or a savior—far from the traditional American expectation of can-do spirituaity.  Obama is a man of color.

When my oldest daughter was about 5 we went to a neighboring home to deliver something and an African American woman, one of the "help"  answered the door.  My daughter said in a loud voice after the door was closed, thanks Godde, "WHAT was that?"  Anti-racism training began right away in our house. 

Four years ago Americans flocked with joy around Obama, the new image symbol of our land's value of diversity and equality—our first black president.  I thought the public energy was over the top and worried about that much expectation.  Perhaps Obama was destined to disappoint with this much to carry. I don't know.

From a psychological perspective from the Jungian theory of the collective unonscious I wonder if the history of racism in this country remained unconsciously in the memory of both viewers and participants.  Think attack dog and the dynamics that go with that symbol of power and dominance, then add skin color and it might have been a recipe for the imbalance.

Spiritually, nonetheless, I will vote for vision, future, and hope based in slow but sure progress, over plan, immediate economic fix, and bold optimism.

And I'll pray that the right vision will win and lead our democracy forward with liberty, justice and the pursuit of happiness for all.


Carmine Gorga said...

Lyn, even if you were right only 25%, I think your insight is so important that it ought to be discussed. That our president is black is a fact of life; that racism used to lead to some horrible national traits is also a fact of history. I am a firm believer in "analysis": the more these issues are brought to light, the better is is for all concerned.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I have to admit: Your image is very disturbing to me. I think I might have felt better if you had used the word "stereotype" of a white / black man. These are not "real" white / black men I know.

Lyn G. Brakeman said...

I would agree somewhat Elizabeth but I do think that color plays a role whether it is stereotype or not. I'm also an idealist and believe the same as you about "real" as I ask myself what the heck is "reality" anyway? :) A stereotype has real impact to the eye. We women should know that, having boobs and all those other undisguisable evidences of our gender.And as Jung said unconscious memory hangs in a long time, especially in a racist country such as ours. Gracefully,our God is color blind.