(The Root) — "Did you just say something about my Mama?"
That was my initial response when I found out about the new Republican vice presidential candidate.
Since the Saturday-morning announcement of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as Mitt Romney's running mate, there have been myriad analyses of the rationale behind it, and there are still tons to come. That's not the point of this post. Personally, I don't actually care why Romney went with Ryan. My concern is simply about the message that's sent to folks like myself, my community and many other Americans. With the Romney-Ryan ticket being put forth by the Republican Party, it seems like a very clear statement:
"Hey there, you poor folks, people of color, women, LGBT'ers. Y'all stay right where y'all are. We're good."
Now, some will immediately point out that there are going to be members of each of these groups that will support Romney-Ryan. You are absolutely correct — but the Republican ticket isn't actually trying to court those votes. They aren't actively reaching out to these groups (although you can make the argument that they are trying to shore up certain types of women). When you start to look at the overall message, this becomes very problematic. If action speaks louder than words, then we should stop and listen to what's being screamed at us.
Mitt Romney went to the NAACP and spoke as if he were in an empty TV studio sending his message to his base. Then he famously followed it up with, "If they want free stuff vote. for the other guy." Before he landed in England, his camp anonymously gave the quote about Romney understanding America's "Anglo-Saxon heritage." In his introduction of Paul Ryan, he highlighted that his new running mate was " … a faithful Catholic [who] believes in the worth and dignity of every life."
I was lucky enough to have my GOP Closed Caption system on as I watched, so I was able to read exactly what that meant: "So, ladies — remember he believes in being all up in your uterus. Just in case you weren't sure. If there's an opportunity, he's going to get up in it."
In that same introduction, Romney continued his disingenuous attack on Obama that we've seen in his latest round of campaign ads reframing changes in the "work for welfare" policy that allow states more flexibility in dealing with their own welfare rolls: "We will return work to welfare."
My GOP Closed Caption system was still on: "The Negro wants more folks on welfare, and he wants them to just chill out and have a mimosa! And — AND you know how those welfare folks are *cough* welfare queens *cough* strapping young buck eating steaks *cough* … "
There are more points of reference to look at the overall message being thrown at us, but I only have but so much space. It's been established that Romney and Ryan have pushed the whole "traditional marriage" argument — even to go so far as to consider a constitutional amendment on it. So riddle me this: What am I supposed to hear when Ryan is chosen and praised across the conservative sphere? How am I supposed to feel about this election, when one of the two major political parties has clearly crossed its arms, tilted its head and looked down at me with a smirk that reads, "Sucks to be you!" It feels like an attack — a personal one, at that. This isn't simply just a few policies that deal with spending here and there. This is a full-blown, clearly drawn, loudly explained vision of America that takes most of my concerns, devours them and craps them out.
We often speak of the need for civility in American politics, and I agree with the sentiment. But it's pretty hard to be civil when the very essence of who you are and what you believe is being attacked and campaigned against nationally in a battle for the most powerful job in the country.
The line had already been drawn in this election between the candidates. This weekend, however, it was set on fire.
Elon James White is a writer and satirist and host of the award-winning video and radio series This Week in Blackness. Listen Monday to Thursday at 1:30 p.m. EST at TWIB.FM and watch at TV.TWIB.ME/LIVE. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Tumblr.