Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Demographic Shift

The day after election.  Relief, rather than euphoria.  Obama’s acceptance speech could have been recited by Romney, or any other middle-of-the-spectrum politician.  No great language.  No vision spoken in rising terms. I still hope for more.

He represents change, because the picture of America has changed.  From the day-after dialogue between David Brooks and Gail Collins in today's New York Times:

David: I don’t often get things right, but last January in the middle of the South Carolina primary, I put a sentence in a column that came back to me as the results came in. It was: “I sometimes wonder if the Republican Party has become the receding roar of white America as it pines for a way of life that will never return.”
Gail: I actually quote that a lot.
David: This election was mostly about demographics or more precisely about the way demographic shifts lead to cultural and political shifts. Ronald Reagan won with an electorate that was nearly 90 percent white. Now the electorate is around 72 percent white. And the white population is different — more educated, more centered in college towns, more socially diverse, more likely to live in single-person households.
That means they are less likely to subscribe to the cowboy ethos of the rugged individual. It doesn’t mean they want to return to the New Deal, but it does mean that the old Republican narrative can no longer win a majority.
Gail: I’ve always thought the big political division was empty places versus crowded places. People who live in crowded places just naturally appreciate how useful government is. Empty-place people don’t see the point. Maybe this is the death of the empty-place vision.