Wednesday, November 07, 2012

"It's Not My Country Anymore"

I've heard that said by a number of my very conservative friends.  I guess they have to decide that.  Clearly it is not the same country anymore.  Romney won a near historic percentage of the white vote and still lost the election.  It isn't a country controlled by white folk anymore.  More women were elected to the senate than ever before and one state - New Hampshire - has elected women to all of their leadership positions.  It is not a country run exclusively by men anymore.  Billionaires spent incredible amounts of money trying to buy the election Sheldon Adelson personally funded 6 campaigns with huge amounts of money and they all lost.  Yes, money still talks, but it is no longer the deciding factor and the plutocracy doesn't have free reign anymore. 

It is a different country than the one I knew as a child in the 50's and 60's.  I embrace it.  I'm excited by that.  I believe this new country embodies the hopes and dreams implicit in the experiment called the United States.  Still, it is different and my conservative friends need to make a decision whether they are part of this new expression of the United States.  Should they decide to withdraw... that's OK, but they cannot call themselves patriots.  They may say, "Obama is not my president," but if they do, they are also saying they are no longer part of this country.

For the Republicans, it will mean they need to re-evaluate and decide on new directions or they will be relegated to being a small regional party with less and less national voice.  At least for a while, they will still have the power of obstruction, but their positive voice will become more and more marginal as the demographics continue to change.  You can decide whether they are racist or not, but this election clearly was about race and their party is clearly identified racially.  A majority of white people voted for Romney.  Everyone else voted for Obama.  Obama won.  It is a new America.

9 comments:

revrannulf said...

Well said!

Michael Mahoney said...

Why is it, I wonder, that when Romney gets 62% of the white vote, it's racism, but when Obama gets 90% of the black vote, it's not?

And it's still my country. (well, technically, I'm Canadian by birth, but I'm a US citizen. I digress.) I fear for it, because knowing that we are worse off now than we were four years ago, I can't imagine what it will be like four years from now, with a president who doesn't have to pander to the center anymore.

I can only hope that he lives up to his promises this time. That he is, in fact, interested in bi-partisianship. (and as much as the left loves to cry "obstructionist!" the president has shown no real interest in bi-partisainship during his first term.)

I can only hope he does live up to his promise to work with Romney to find common ground in a deeply divided country.

I can only hope that, regardless of ideology, when a large portion of the country thinks he is the worst president in memory (and that includes Carter) that he realizes he did a lousy job his first term as everyone's president.

roy said...

OK Michael...

I didn't say the white vote was due to racism (although I believe in large part it was), I said the election was about race. The Republican party clearly has an issue with people of color.

We obviously disagree re: Obama's place on the political spectrum I see him as a practical centrist, not a crazy leftist. I don't see that changing.

I'll stand by obstructionism. I can't forget McConnell's statement that his party's primary objective was to keep Obama to one term. They worked very hard to make that come true and stood as a block against virtually everything he tried. How many times did he need to beat his head against that solid wall before he gave up? I think the work to find common ground needs to begin with the Republicans. Unfortunately, in spite of some significant defeats, I don't see that happening.

While there is a clear percentage who say that Obama is the worst president ever, the electorate clearly spoke. In spite of the problems, in spite of Republican obstructionism, in spite of the serious issues, in spite of the serious divide, they/we elected him again. I do think that a significant part of that "worst president ever" idea is based in a sense of loss of a country that is changing and Obama is the visual representation of that - a black president with a funny name who doesn't fit in with the old guard.

Michael Mahoney said...

.. and it would seem some Democrats have a problem with white people. And rich people. (which is weird, because many Democrat politicians are rich white guys.)

Obama himself said that he would limit himself to one term if the country wasn't significantly improved during his first term. It's not, he didn't, I'm not surprised.

And I would dispute that "the electorate spoke." A 2% margin of victory is hardly a mandate. It means as many people disagree with you as agree with you, and you need to govern them all.

That said, I'm not one of those guys hoping that he fails. I hope he succeeds. The country needs him to succeed. I'm not sure he's capable of it.

I am, afraid, Roy. I am deeply afraid of the next four years. Wall Street is already in a free-fall - unless your're investing in pharmaceutical companies and health-care conglomerates.

I hope you're right and I'm wrong.

roy said...

Michael, you're one who always encourages me to look at the entire picture. You mention Wall Street in a free fall. Yes it is... but it has also nearly doubled in the 4 years Obama has been in office. So, which fact do we hold up as the more important one? I would argue that the free fall today is a racist reaction to the election while the sustained growth over 4 years is a reflection of policies that worked. The racist reaction will fade and the growth will continue.

I agree, the election isn't exactly a "mandate," but it is a significant statement. The American people have spoken and said that the Republican obstructionism is not the path they would choose and instead they want to give Obama 4 more years. I believe the message they have given is that the Republicans better get on board. Indeed, many of the Romney endorsements I read essentially said that the only reason they were endorsing him was because to stop the Republican obstructionism. The demographics seem to indicate that commitment to the path Obama is advocating will only grow stronger in the coming years.

I stand by the observation that unless there is significant change in the Republican Party, they will marginalize themselves. At the same time, embracing people of color, women, GLBT folk, and Latinos will upset the base in a significant way. They are facing some very difficult decisions and will have to disenfranchise a significant part of their base or become irrelevant.

And I would say that while things may not be significantly better, they are significantly better than they would have been had we followed the Republican direction. The country was in the worst recession since the Great Depression and rapidly going down hill. To expect that everything would be fixed in 4 years is pretty unrealistic, don't you think? After all, the Republican policies were the ones that got us into the mess in the first place. Their plan in '08 and in'12 was to double down. It wasn't working and would only have made things worse.

Again, I think the strong reactions against Obama, who I see as a pragmatic centrist, have more to do with the demographic changes in the country than with policies. The traditional white male power structure is fighting to retain control and Obama is the symbol of that loss.

I understand that you don't like Obama personally. I had similar feelings about Bush. One doesn't have to like a leader though to realize that he or she has significant gifts that are needed for this very difficult time. Bush did not. Obama does. I do not think Romney's skill are significantly stronger than Bush's were. Look at the way his campaign was run... if he couldn't get elected with the economy in the condition it is, then clearly he is lacking something significant.

Steph said...

Astute analysis, Roy. We do need an opposition, however, for a healthy democracy..That Republicans could be 'relegated to being a small regional party with less and less national voice' is not a good thing for diversity of thought..They can''t just disappear! I am wondering what, when the extremist element of the Republican party evolves beyond the old school and racism/birtherism/Tea Party etc, what the opposition will look like? Perhaps fiscal conservatives who are pro-life/church-going, but embrace all races and sexual orientation?

roy said...

I agree Steph that we always need multiple viewpoints in the discussion. I wish we could sustain more than just two major parties. I would like to see a true Social Democrat party, a Green Party, a party of fiscal conservatives... Something will emerge.

Michael Mahoney said...

The American people have spoken and said that the Republican obstructionism is not the path they would choose and instead they want to give Obama 4 more years. No, they haven't. Slightly over half said that. The other just about half said the exact opposite. And all the gloating Democrats in the world aren't going to change that. The people haven't spoken - they are deeply divided and deeply wounded.

To expect that everything would be fixed in 4 years is pretty unrealistic, don't you think? I do. In fact, I think the whole 2 4-year term thing is broken. I think a single 6- or 8-year term makes much more sense. When a president - of either party - spends 15 months of his first term trying to get re-elected, there is a problem. But then again, it was Obama who said that he would not run again if things hadn't improved, not me.

After all, the Republican policies were the ones that got us into the mess in the first place. You and I will dispute that 'til Jesus comes. :)

Again, I think the strong reactions against Obama, who I see as a pragmatic centrist, have more to do with the demographic changes in the country than with policies. The traditional white male power structure is fighting to retain control and Obama is the symbol of that loss. Being one of those white-male-conservatives, it has less to do with that then you imagine. Is there some of it... sure. But I know waaaaaaay more people of color who voted for the "black guy" then I do whites who voted against him for the same reason. People who couldn't give a single, coherent reason other than "He's black" or "He got bin Laden." And I'm not kidding about that, either.

I understand that you don't like Obama personally. I have nothing against him personally, actually. I think he's a bad president. I think he's dishonest. I think he's more interested in his legacy than anything else. I think he's a poor problem-solver and a poor manager.

I can disagree with a president's ideology and still think he was effective. I think Clinton was a good president. I think Bush, Sr. wasn't. Has nothing to do with ideology, but with results. Obama has had no good results. We are weaker economically, we are weaker diplomatically, and we are more divided than we have been in a generation. Which one of those is a good thing?



Anonymous said...

"They may say, "Obama is not my president," but if they do, they are also saying they are no longer part of this country."

Sounds truly totalitarian: if you not for us, you are against us. Reality check: Obama got around 51% of the votes. 49% voted against him.

"You can decide whether they are racist or not, but this election clearly was about race and their party is clearly identified racially."

You are right. From all race groups, whites identified the least with their candidate (59%). Going by your definition, the most racist vote was black (93%), Asian (73%) and Hispanic (71%), if we follow the white - non-white dichotomy of your reasoning. Cf. http://hailtoyou.wordpress.com/2012/11/11/its-revenge-against-you-the-2012-election-in-one-graphic/

PS: I am not an American, just an outside observer.