Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Change in Demographics?

I was reading something earlier from a G.O.P. point of view that was expressing disbelief in how they could be losing an election when the incumbent was saddled with an economy that is still in horrible shape.

The conclusion was that if Barack Obama wins re-election, it will show that there has been a dramatic change in what they referred to as the demographics of the country. That term, in this context, primarily coming from South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who gave us this immortal observation:

"The demographics race we're losing badly.We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term." (Washington Post quote)

That's a fact, but it is short-sighted. Yes, The GOP has most definitely narrowed its focus far too much and they are undeniably most appealing to "angry white guys." But there is far more to it.

The Republican Party is focused on the problems of its leadership, and despite their attempts to run every member with the slightest pigmentation, anatomy or surname that hints of diversity in front of a camera, that leadership is angry, white, male and both upper class and middle-aged.

And to an upper-class, middle-aged white male, this election should be about the economy. And if you are against Barack Obama, you want it to be only about the economy. Because if this election is only about the economy and you look at indicators of past performance in presidential elections as they refer to economic conditions at the time of the trip to the polls, it isn't even close. Obama should lose. Especially if he is up against a man with a strong business record, indicators of religious piety and a history of bipartisanship. All of which is true about Mitt Romney.

But Americans seem to have learned something. The President does have some power economically, but he is helpless without the assistance of Congress --- and that means not just the Senate, but the House. And the Republicans have quite successfully denied him that cooperation, very publicly and without excuse or even any attempt to conceal why. To defeat the President in 2012.

Apparently, America has noticed. And the result of noticing is that they aren't blaming the President for the economy. They are dividing the blame equally.

Which means that other factors are of equal importance. And this is where the demographics kick in. Because the President has far more power over some other things...especially what the GOP likes to refer to as "liberal social issues."

They call them "liberal" social issues because they are trapped in their pandering to one extreme of the social strata...the religious right. And of course, in our nation that means Evangelical Christianity.

In the next four years, we may have as many as four new Supreme Court justices. We will probably decide the legality of gay marriage. We will see significant challenges to the existing definitions of legal immigration and abortion. We will see the end of U.S. direct involvement in the conflict in Afghanistan. We will see consistently escalating fossil fuel prices as India and China continue to expand their consumption of these limited resources. We will continue to see the growth of retired Americans as a percentage of population, which means increased need for health care and income that does not rely on physical labor. We will see dramatic upheaval in the way the people of the Middle East govern themselves.

All that is far more within the influence of a President than the simple focus on budget and unemployment numbers.

It isn't demographics that have changed, Mr. Graham. After all, the majority of the country hasn't been angry, white and male...ever. And the majority of the voting population hasn't been white or male since all Americans became eligible to vote, including those formerly in bondage, both literal and domestic. I may concede that, at times, the majority of the voting population has been angry.

No, what has changed is that they are educated. And though you would dearly love to return to a time when they believed what you and your ilk told them because they had no other source of information, that isn't going to happen. Indeed, the likelihood of it is about the same as that of you discovering a new, inexhaustible supply of angry white guys.

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