There exist a fairly significant number of voters who will support Barack Obama in 2012 regardless of what Mitt Romney says or does. There is a somewhat smaller population that will almost indubitably support GOP Candidate Mitt Romney. What remains in the middle will care about both what Mitt Romney says and what he does not say. Hence we get an effort being waged by President Obama’s die-hard supporters to prevent Mitt Romney from saying certain things.
This tactic prompted Conservative Stalwart William F. Buckley to caution the American Right to avoid arguing on pre-empted categories. Allowing the political opposition to define what is meant by “fair”, “compassionate”, “rich”, and especially the pejoratives such as “racist”; will predictably leave you on the wrong side of every one of these terms. Defining these terms defines what people are allowed to actually say. Limiting what Mitt Romney is allowed to say, limits what he can say to win over undecided voters.
As Brett Stevens puts it:
The best way to win an argument is to poison your opposition with assumptions.
Nothing more effectively poisons the assumptions facing a GOP candidate than to call him a racist. Unless, like The New Republic, you can think of ways to claim he is even worse. The Odious and Disingenuous Timothy Noah attempts to plant assumed axioms aimed at derailing any effort by Mitt Romney to criticize Barack Obama’s efforts to undo portions of the 1990′s Welfare Reform Legislation. Preemptive use of The Race Card follows below:
Of course, Romney isn’t interested in the facts; he’s interested in associating Obama with black and Hispanic undesirables bent on collecting welfare benefits and robbing white elderly people of their health insurance. The son of a politician who walked out of the 1964 Republican convention because of its opposition to blacks could well end up encouraging anti-black sentiments at the 2012 Republican convention. Like Poppy Bush, Romney is not a racist himself. He is, arguably, something worse: A man who, because he has no particularly pronounced views himself, is willing to say just about anything to get himself elected president.
Other preempted categories include the negative-loading of the term “gun-nut.” We all know who those people are: white, rural, unedumacayted, and clinging bitterly to their guns and religion. Of course this fails to explain why people are more people have been shot in Chicago this Summer than in Afghanistan. The people who defined the term “gun-nut” would be flabbergasted at the NSFW video linked here.
These are clearly not the droids AG Eric Holder was looking for. By allowing the language to be tilted towards the purpose of ideological warfare, our society is failing to address the problem because people are racist if they accurately describe what that problem truly consists of. Categorical preemption prevents society from being as safe for average people.
Categorical preemption also prevents radical honesty. It disallows speech that is necessary to learning and comprehension. Mitt Romney does not have to be evil for opposing the undoing of welfare reform legislation by executive order. All that requires is a fairly rigorous reading of the US Constitituion and a basic understanding of what Democratic Senator, Daniel Patrick Moynihan described as “the defining-down of deviancy.” This defining-down, like the “soft bigotry of low expectations” that dwells in synonymy therewith, is a problem that saps and will eventually kill America the way lung-cancer kills the nicotine addict. Mitt Romney doesn’t have to be “mean”, “divisive”, “uncaring” or even egregiously “White-acting.” Yet he does need to tell America a series of hard truths about the road we are all on. He needs to ignore all the flacks and the flunkies who try to preemptively brand him a racist as he speaks out on behalf of his vision for the future.