OBAMA VERSUS ROMNEY
Barring any unforeseen violence (and America is as alienated now as it has been since 1968), the 2012 presidential election will be the first that excludes white Protestant America (even Elvis and Bill Clinton), as two outside types face off -- an African-American and a Mormon. Both African-Americans and Mormons are defined by persecution and slavery versus a bizarre set of religious beliefs which, if examined closely, prefigure Scientology.
The Mormons fled from Poughkeepsie to Columbus, Ohio, to Salt Lake City, ultimately managing to insinuate themselves into the highest levels of society by holding onto nonpublic allegiances that make the Masons and the Scientologists look like rank amateurs. Blacks, shipped in chains from East Africa to Georgia, lived in public by force, established themselves as the essential culture of America under penalty of death and worse, and are still in a state of alienation from Protestant America.
It is an anthropolitical peculiarity of human tribalism that these two very different states of outsiderness are now manifest in a contest between two specific men, men who have made their bones on every step of the ladder by entertaining the very elites that their backgrounds deny, Obama in Hyde Park, Mitt at Bain Capital. And yet, by merely standing for the alienated groups that they represent, their identities overthrow the system, however subconsciously, in the minds of most Americans.
This disassociation within the American body politic as a whole will guarantee an election full of anomalies, one which begins as the most expensive ever and potentially the most polarizing. Strategically, Romney can shape shift himself into contending in blue states such as Massachusetts, California and Connecticut, because he was a "liberal" governor, while Obama has a real chance in Southern states such as Louisiana and Virginia (where he is currently running ahead), because his authenticity as a black man trumps the Mormon Mitt.
For the first presidential election ever, Americans from liberals to Evangelicals have no one to self-indentify with, in a Freudian sense, which is what the archaic and idiotic election of one tribal chieftain for a nation of 350 million people is still about. Americans tend to vote for the most handsome candidate, in 2012 a tie, and to break for the winner right before Election Day. Indeed, historically, voting for the perceived winner is the primary motivation in Presidential elections (in Bush versus Gore in 2000, neither was perceived as a winner).
So, from an esthetic sense, expect the unexpected. Romney will continue to screw up on the stump, but, as in the 1993 New York City mayoral race, between the African-American incumbent David Dinkins and Rudolph Giuliani, voters may decide that they have done their duty to blacks to a sufficient extent to justify throwing them out of office. Barack Obama has been one of the greatest war Presidents in our history and he did it by retaining George W. Bush's national security team, a move unprecedented since FDR brought in Republican Secretary of War Henry Stimson during World War II.
Obama is fully aware that Mitt has no foreign policy experience. If the President has to go to war to secure a close election before November, he will.
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).