Changing American Demographics Favor Progressives

                Progressives have long discussed why so many Americans continually vote against their own interests.  Americans have a long history of voting for politicians that enact legislation which makes the lives of the majority more difficult.  For decades the conservatives have masterfully used social issues to garner support from voters who would normally not support conservative ideology.  By using divisive social issues the Republicans have been able to convince a large number of voters to actually vote against their own economic interests.  Conservatives have skillfully used the fear of losing gun rights, the fear of losing religious freedom and animosity towards other races to win campaigns.  However, the changing demographics of the American electorate, coupled with changing attitudes on social matters, provide hope that political victories through the use of fear may soon be a thing of the past.   

                Perhaps no other politician was as successful as Ronald Reagan when it came to convincing people that his policies would work in their favor.  Reagan was a master of manipulating the social issue above the economic issue.  I do not think it would be a simplification to say that for the vast majority of Reagan voters nothing mattered more than social issues.   Reagan was a master at stoking racial fears and assuring voters that their fears were not only justified, but that their fears were more important than any other matter.  His speeches included racial code words and included references to ‘strong young bucks’ collecting unemployment and ‘welfare queens’ in Cadillacs collecting food stamps.  The meaning was clear to everyone, it was all about race.  He was able to attract so many Democratic voters to the Republican Party that to this day they are still called “Reagan Democrats”.  Basically, a Reagan Democrat is a voter who would normally support the Democratic Party on economic issues; however, their ‘social’ views are more in line with those espoused by the Republicans and so they cast their votes with the Republicans.  Ronald Reagan was able to successfully expand the Republican Southern Strategy beyond the confines of the Southern States. 

                Until 1948, the Southern portion of America reliably voted for the Democratic Party.  In 1948, President Truman signed an executive order to desegregate the U.S. military.  As a result, several Southern Democrats (led by Strom Thurmond) formed the States' Rights Democratic Party (the Dixiecrats).   After the 1948 elections the Dixiecrats dissolved and in the following years most of the members joined the Republican Party.  Ever since, with very few exceptions, the Southern States have voted for Republicans. 

                The changing racial makeup of America will either force the conservatives to cease using racial fear to win elections, or it will severely limit the influence of conservative ideas in American politics.  In May of 2012, for the first time in American history, white births were a minority percentage (49.6%) of all U.S. births.  In 1960, the American population was 85% white and nearly 100% of all eligible voters were white.  In 1980 whites still represented 79% of the total population.  In 2011, 41 years after Ronald Reagan used racial fear to win the presidency, the percentage of whites (non Hispanic) in America had fallen to approximately 63%.  White voters still make up an overwhelming majority of eligible voters.  In 2012 approximately 71% of all eligible voters were white.  In 1980, black Americans represented approximately 11.5% of the total U.S. population, in 2010 (U.S. Census figures) that figure had only increased to 13%.  The Hispanic population is the fastest growing demographic in America. 

                 In 1980, when Reagan was first elected, Hispanics represented 6.45% of the total U.S. population; in 2010 it was 16.7%.  As a result of the growing influence of the Hispanic vote, states that were once considered solidly Republican are now seen as Democratic states.  Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada are now considered Democratic states.  The voting trends in Florida, Virginia and North Carolina also indicate that those states can no longer be considered Republican strongholds.  Texas and Arizona are still Republican states; however, demographic trends in both states do not favor the Republicans.  To shift the balance of power within the Democratic Party, Progressives need to reach out to the Hispanic community on the issues of economic inequity.  The Progressive community could learn a lesson from the Republican Party’s masterful use of social issues, and begin using the issues of economic opportunity and inequity to attract more voters to support progressive causes.  

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             In the 1980s the AIDS epidemic was terrifying America.  The disease was first reported in America in 1981. AIDS was particularly devastating for the U.S. gay community.  At that time, the disease was viewed as a result of what was called ‘the homosexual lifestyle’.  Evangelical Christians used the predominance of homosexual deaths from AIDS to turn the disease into an indictment of homosexuality.  Jerry Falwell, who in 1979 founded the conservative Christian organization the Moral Majority, was a staunch supporter of Ronald Reagan.  He was a frequent visitor to the White House and found in Ronald Reagan a President willing to listen to his social ideas.  When Falwell proclaimed that, “AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals”, he was saying out loud what many Americans believed.  It was not until 1987 that Ronald Reagan mentioned AIDS in public.  Even then he continued to tie the disease to morality.  Reagan’s attitude was not abnormal but fairly representative of the America of the 1980s.  Indeed, in most states same sex sin was a criminal act that was in some states punishable with jail time. 

             The idea of same sex marriage was not seriously discussed in American politics until the 1990s.   It was still framed as a moral debate and not as a basic civil rights debate.  The conservatives were able to control the framing of this issue and successfully use it as very divisive wedge issue to win elections.  In 2004, shortly after the death of his own openly gay father, Karl Rove helped to launch anti-gay marriage initiatives in several important swing states.  These initiatives raised the enthusiasm of the conservative voter whose high turnout led to a second Bush Presidency as well as solid Republican majorities in the House and Senate.   

             On November 7, 2012, for the first time in American history, voters used the ballot box to approve same sex marriage initiatives.  Maine, Maryland and Washington voted to allow same sex marriage.  Six other states had previously used legislative means to pass either civil union or same sex marriage laws.  When presented with same sex initiatives in the past, American voters had said no over and over again.  Even in supposedly liberal California voters had rejected a 2008 same sex marriage proposal by a nearly 600 hundred thousand vote margin.  The change in America’s attitude on same sex marriage is primarily a result of demographics.  Younger voters simply do not see this issue in the same manner as older voters.    

             Based on the results of a 2012 Pew Poll, approximately 20% of all Americans do not have any specific religion.  That does not mean that they are atheists, rather, they have no chosen denomination.  The percentage of Americans who do not have a specific religion is highest with those under the age of 30.  Nearly a third of all Americans under the age of 30 have no specific religion.  The era when religious organizations such as the Moral Majority are able to significantly influence American politics is rapidly coming to a close. 

             While the Republican Party’s influence should wane as a result of the American electorate’s changing demographics, the Progressives should see their influence expand.  Progressive ideas are universal ideas.  The idea of economic equality is one shared by the workers of South Africa as well as the workers of America.  Healthcare, education, equality are all ideas that resonate with people around the globe.  I hope that Progressives are able to capitalize on Tuesday’s election victories to regain control of the Democratic Party.  Progressive ideas are the best way to move this country forward and bring economic and personal equality to all.

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I'm not convinced

Mehitabel's picture

but I hope you are right.

Obots everywhere believe (I suspect) that Obama is a liberal in part because he came out in favor of marriage equality.  They can point to that; mention drone warfare or Obama's neoliberal economic policies or Bradley Manning and they point to marriage equality and protest that of couse he's liberal because he took a stand on gay marriage!

I posted my personal point of view on Obama and marriage equality (and gay rights in general) elsewhere, right after he made his first public statement in support of marriage equality.   And I was pretty damned mad when I posted it.  Because I wrote it, I'm giving myself permission to repost it in its entirety here:

I’m seeing the ads everywhere, for barackobama.com. My Facebook page is positively infested with them. And every time I see one, my blood pressure ratchets up another notch.

I’m pleased that Obama has spoken out in support of marriage equality, really I am. But let’s get something straight.

Barack Obama is standing with me. Not the other way around.

And I’m not just sitting and kvetching from way up in the cheap seats here.

I was at the March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights in 1987.  I attended more protests than I can remember in Los Angeles between 1985 and 1993.  I volunteered for The Names Project, creating quilt panels and helping others to create theirs. I volunteered for, and donated to, the Human Rights Campaign Fund. I signed petitions and wrote letters. I helped my friend Rob Eichberg launch National Coming Out Day in 1989.

Where was Barack Obama?

I helped the fight against Prop 8 in California, and I wasn’t even a resident of the state anymore. I’ve at the very least made a donation to those fighting every other major ballot initiative aiming to deprive LGBT men and women of their fundamental civil rights in the past twenty-plus years.

Where has Barack Obama been?

I did not, and do not, claim to be a leader. I didn’t lead. I helped, right alongside a lot of other people. But I was there, and I took a stand. And don’t tell me he was too young to do that in the 1980s, because he’s only slightly younger than I am.

Hell, I’m not even gay. I haven’t been fighting for myself all these years, except insofar as I believe that equal rights denied to some ultimately means equal rights denied to all. I’ve been fighting for people I loved: Jay, and John, and David, and Steve, and Bill, and Pat, and Rob, and others – all wonderful men, my beloved friends. All gone now, all killed by AIDS.  Back then, we weren't fighting for the right to marry.  We were fighting to save lives - lives that too many Americans considered not worth the trouble to fight for.

So, like I said. I’m pleased that Barack Obama has finally decided to speak up. I really am. Better late than never, I guess.

But let’s not kid ourselves. Leaders – true leaders - take a stand when taking a stand is the right and necessary thing to do, without regard to the personal or political risk involved. They don’t wait and take a stand only when political expediency dictates that they must.

Barack Obama is President. When he speaks, he commands attention. When he takes a stand, that stand is going to have some degree of influence in the national debate. No argument there.

But a leader? Not on this issue. And for him to campaign on his supposed leadership on this issue galls me to the point of apoplexy.

So, Mr. President: Welcome aboard. I'm glad to have you standing with us. But do not for one red hot second think that people like me, people who have fought this fight for all these years, consider you to be a leader. You’re nearly three decades too late for that.

But, I digress somewhat. My point is, I remain unconvinced that the progress being made on a state level in such areas as marriage equality, decriminalization of marijuana and death-with-dignity laws, points to any kind of change that favors progressives on a national electoral level. I tend more to see it as window-dressing. Obots everywhere focus on these issues and pat themselves on the back for their support of their wonderful can-do-no-wrong President and wilfully close their eyes to the real harm he does. To me, it's a mirror image of Republicans using some of these very same "wedge" issues to persuade people to vote against their own economic best interests because they're afraid of gays or brown people.

I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think I am.

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it was changing demographics/attitudes that led to victories

sartoris's picture

     The victories that you cite did not come about as a result of the efforts of any particular politician.  Why do you think that in 2012 initiatives for same sex marriage and decriminalization of marijuana were successful?  The evidence supports the hypothesis that changing attitudes/demographics led to the passage of those initiatives.  I do not suggest in my article that the Democratic Party will 'change', what I do suggest is that the Demographics will force the Democratic Party to change.  By that I mean that the current generation of voters is much more tolerant of same sex marriage than previous generations.  It's not even an issue for people under the age of 30.  Neither is marijuana.  These types of social issues are now losers for the conservatives.

     The Occupy Movement was primarily a youth based movement.  Younger voters are more concerned about economic inequality than they are about social issues.  This will work in the favor of progressives.  The decreasing white majority will work against the conservatives and in favor of progressives.  It is for these reasons that I'm hopeful regarding the future.

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I see your point.

Mehitabel's picture

But I can't ignore the fact that the same people who passed marriage equality in Washington and other states this election are also the same people who voted overwhelmingly for Obama. You see the cognitive dissonance at play there, and so do I, but they do not.  And until they start seeing it, we're not going to see much of a change.    

Maybe the next wave of younger voters will see more clearly and vote more intelligently.  I certainly hope so.

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the point of this article is demographics, not Obama

sartoris's picture

The trend in demographics is the focus of this article.  What I'm suggesting is that changing attitudes on issues from same sex marriage, drug laws and even religion are working in the favor of progressive policies. 

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I don't see how the changing

shaharazade's picture

demographics of the party  will affect progressive/liberal policy direction or agenda. How are they going to hold this shift in demographics when once elected they will implement  the same agenda and basic ideology behind a prettier face. Given that  they weald  the RW maniacs and their lizard brain base as a knee capper as in, vote for us or else...of course their going to catch these fish in their net. As a woman I feel literally physically threatened by having the American Taliban in power . If I was a black person, a Latino. a real poor person, an old coot  or GBLT double my fear or triple my fear.

This administration isn't going help these people, unless they are 'responsible' citizens (those who make enough money to be worthy of representation and invest wisely) The rest of us including Latino's are going to find that we are just a profit loss and should adjust to the inevitable reality that our only reason for being alive is to feed the global NWO that Clinton preached, the assendency of the rich and the need for oligrahicial collectivism.. So excuse me if I don't find this inspiring or really helpful in getting any kind of decent let alone 'progressive'  direction home.  Home would be in my modest dreams a place where you as a person where not threatened daily because you were a profit loss and 'not responsible'. How long can the arrogant the current Democratic machine convince these 'demographic's' that they are better. As long as people regardless of their demographic or ideology  believe that 'better then' is all they can get.  The freaky thing is maybe this is all they can get. Meanwhile 50% don't even bother they have there own problems survival.  

On the other hand CO went progressive. So go  local and fuck their numbers of mass deception they do not measure the human spirit . As a woman I reject the absolute insanity of my choice. Of course I'm not going to vote for lunatics but then again I should not have even be presented with this choice at all.. Gimmie some truth and quit jerking people around with the cooked up reality that only diminishes my humanity and negates self evident truths. The mendacity is so dense and deep.I pity those caught in this false  conflict including myself. 

  

 

 

 

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the country's demographics are changing

sartoris's picture

I presented evidence, that I believe supports the idea that the changing demographics/attitude will work in the favor of progressive ideas.  Why do you think that Colorado went progressive?  It happened for a reason.  Why is New Mexico and Nevada now Democratic states.  I'm sure you know that liberal California was once a solid Republican state.  It's interesting that you don't see the power of the shifting demographics in switching the voting patterns of America. 

Thanks for reading and thanks for your comments.

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the demographics look good and if

triv33's picture

teabilly wingnuts stay in the driver's seat the GOP is on track to become a regional third party, while the Democrats are the ones who are on track to actually have that civil war and break into the two major parties. The neo-liberal so-called pragmatic branch and the DFH progressive "hey, fucknuts, we have a platform for a reason" branch. 

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Yes, in that scenario ...

BruceMcF's picture

... if there are two wings to the Democratic party that are each larger than the Republican base, in an entrenched system of legally discriminating in favor of two major rival parties of government, the natural outcome is a split in the Democratic party.

There is quite a bit of path dependency in this, with a great deal depending upon the reaction of maybe one, maybe two dozen very wealth donors to the loss of all that money in their big ticket races.

However, if they end up going down that path, it will be a case of being hoist on their own petard, since a great deal of it will be due to the alternative reality media sphere that they built as the propoganda arm of their party which has now grown to the point of dictating that corporate favorite candidates must shoot their general election chances in the foot in order to win the primaries.

 

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I agree, Triv.

sartoris's picture

The teaparty is a disaster for all of America, but it is specifically  a disaster for Republican party.  This is not a center right country.  No matter how many times the punditry repeats that lie, it will simply never be true.  You are 100% correct that the pragmatic wing of the Democratic Pary wants a civil war within the party, from my eyes it looks like they have won many short term victories, but I think in the long term they will lose. 

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This has been a center right country ...

BruceMcF's picture

... the Take Everything Away party is about adopting extreme right positions and pretending that its a center right position. They can get away with it with the media by harassing the mess media to convince them to include that in "he said, she said" reporting, but eventually the T.E.A. party candidates run the risk of just saying something that makes even the the solid right squint and say, "wait, what?" ... at which point the mess media delight in replaying the tape.

The point of your diary, as I interpreted it, is that this is no longer a center right country ... witness the more successful center-right politician of our day not being the one tacking between the extreme right and the center right but the one pretending to be a progressive.

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I wish this were so

shaharazade's picture

but see no way forward to make this scenario plausible. I'm pragmatic enough to see after more then a decade the people who own and control our party our country have their own agenda and direction which regardless of their 'intentions' is nothing that I can support or that anyone should have to consider inevitable or reality. What bs they spout from fiscal cliffs of mass deception to 'terrist's are gonna kill yer family'. People need to repudiate this  non choice and beak out of this fictitious reality . What good are the Democrat's who have the power  as long as what they are selling is intolerable,anti-democratic and has no regard for even our survival? Cart before the horse politics to think that the people, the numbers and demographics are more important then what they are forced to choose.

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hmmm.......

sartoris's picture

I hope that you did not read this in my article.  I certainly never said anything remotely like this:

Cart before the horse politics to think that the people, the numbers and demographics are more important then what they are forced to choose.

The message of my article seems to have been lost.  Seems fairly hopeless to carry on this discussion.

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Interesting and well-done argument

geomoo's picture

I do believe there is much for Reps to fear in this, and my impression is that they are well aware of these trends.  Unfortunately, because I believe we no longer enjoy a democracy, I'm not convinced that these demographic trends will naturally result in the empowerment of the majority.  To give one example of many, I well remember the number 70% from way back early in W's first term--that was 70% of Americans opposing the Iraq invasion and occupation.  Americans even managed to translate disagreement with Bush into a mid-term congressional majority.  This majority was sent, perhaps more than anything, to end Bush's military adventures.  But, despite a lot of grandstanding and photo-oping, nothing changed.  I still remember that proud bogus photograph of Pelosi, Murtha, et al, with them claiming to have ended the war.  The fighting, spending, and killing rages on.  Year after year, the majority of Americans have favored bringing the troops home, choice for women, and other liberal notions; year after year, these majority opinions have failed to be translated into action.

The political machinations of the right are not static.  Because Rep manipulation of social issues is cynical, without a shred of integrity, Reps will be free to move on to the next series of manipulations in order to keep the new demographic mix baffled about who would best represent them.  The Hispanic community, forgive the easy generalization, are in many ways socially conservative, as is the AA community.  In short, there will be new delusions to fan, new social fault-lines to exploit, new issues created out of thin air to distract people from what the kind of government which will serve them best.  There will be Hispanic politicians eager to take their spot at the feeding trough in return for double-crossing their communities.  Demographic changes, I fear, will be no substitute for an empowered electorate capable of discriminating between manipulative lies and reality.  Until this happens, our governing decisions will be made by the highest bidder and majority opinion will count as little in policy-making as it has during the recent past.

The U.S. electorate has been more progressive than its government for at least two decades now.  I suggest that the author's well-documented list of coming changes present merely a new challenge to those who strive tirelessly to undermine democracy--finding a way to thwart their cynical, well-funded, and media-fueled manipulations will be, if anything, an even greater challenge in the future.  The value of this analysis, to me, is in doing what the author suggests we should do, make ourselves aware of these trends and be intelligent about how to convert them into policies which reflect the attitudes of the people.
 

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thanks, Geomoo

sartoris's picture

I'm sure you understand the feeling of reading something and wishing that you had written yourself.  I wish that I had written your statement: "The U.S. electorate has been more progressive than its government for at least two decades now." This captures perfectly my entire point and would fit my article.  Thanks for reading and thanks for the wonderful contribution. 

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Not to belabor the point

Mehitabel's picture

but it matters not one whit how progressive they are unless and until they start voting that way. I was stunned to read that Jill Stein got less than 1% of the vote on Tuesday.  I still can't shake that one off.

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if they cannot get elected then it's really a moot point

sartoris's picture

I have yet to read any convincing arguments for me to support a third party candidate.  In my lifetime I have yet to see any third party candidate win the support necessary to be elected to major office.  Is there any evidence that suggests that will change soon?  As long as people can see for themselves that their vote for a particular candidate, for want of a better description, will be wasted, then it will be very hard to convince them to cast their votes for a third party candidate. 

That is simply the reality of the situation.  It is not meant to denigrate the ideas presented by third party candidates, it is simply the reality of politics in America today.  Ross Perot ran against George Bush based more on their previous history regarding the Vietnam M.I.A. situation.  However, even a candidate with his financial resources never really had a chance to win.  He happily played the role of spoiler due mostly to his personal animosity with Bush. 

Perhaps the shifting American demographics will work in favor of third party candidates.  I have not seen that issue explored.  That might be an interesting topic for you to research.  For now though the evidence is supporting the idea that progressive ideas will benefit from the shifting demographics/attitudes.

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Third party candidates

Mehitabel's picture

are not going to get support until people actually start voting for them.  And people aren't going to vote for them until they start getting support.  Seems a hopeless case, right?  I promise you that this is the way that the Democratic and Republican powers-that-be want you to feel.  You don't buy into their other BS, do you?  So why buy into this?  

If you did actually vote for Obama, tell me how that was more helpful to the mess we're in than my voting for Jill Stein was?

Look, somebody has to go first here.  Somebody has to start voting third party, and then keep trying to convince others to do the same.  I'm willing to go first.  Maybe by 2016, you will be too. And maybe you'll convince five of your friends and they'll convince five of theirs, and so on.

We have to start somewhere.

I'll tell ya, the only about this election that could have left me feeling even worse than I do, is how I would have felt voting for Obama knowing that it was not the right thing to do.

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we seem to be talking past each other

sartoris's picture

As I said, until evidence is presented to convince voters that giving their vote to a third party candidate is not tantamount to throwing away their vote, then third party candidates will remain an afterthought in American politics.  I'm not judging the merits of any third party candidate.  I'm quite certain that there are many areas in which I agree with Jill Stein.  As I have stated before; you should always vote how you choose.  I justify my vote to no one.  If I could wave a wand I would grant America the parlimentary system that would allow other parties to be viable, however, that is not within my power.  I have absolutely no problem with anyone voting third party, forth party or anyone who simply wishes to party instead of voting.  The point of my article was about the shifting demographics in the American electorate and how it will benefit progressives in the future.  The future as in quite a few years, not the future as in next week. 

Thanks as always for your comments.

 

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I absolutely get the point of your article.

Mehitabel's picture

I apologize if it seems that I'm not getting it.  I do.

My brain is wired such that I always leap from the concept to the concrete.  You say that changing demographics will benefit progressives in the future, and I certainly hope you are right.

But what you don't address - and what I am trying to address - is the how.  How is this shift going to play out?  How is it going to work?  How is it going to actually make a difference?  

My point is that there are a whole lot of progressives in this country already, and for whatever reason(s) - reasons that I personally can't comprehend - they voted for Obama despite their progressivism, and despite their disappointment in him and despite their doubts about his fitness for the job.  Why?

I'm not talking about starry-eyed Obots who think the man is Jesus H. Obama who can do no wrong.  I'm not talking about people who just voted for him because Romney would have been worse.  I'm talking about the many, many people who acknowledged that he is doing great harm to the country, who acknowledge that the differences between him and Romney were minor at best - and who still voted for him.

I'm not asking you to justify anything.  I just wish someone could explain to me why.  Because I simply don't get it.  And because I don't get it, I don't understand why you think it's going to change just because there's a coming demographic shift.  Your article seems to me to argue - well, to imply, at least - that this shift in demographics somehow equates or will somehow cause a shift in behavior among the voting populace.  I just want to know why you seem to think so.

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ah, now we are no longer talking past each other

sartoris's picture

The Why is because non white voting groups are less likely to favor conservative politics.  Why did Colorado shift?  Because of the growth of the Hispanic community.  Same reason for Florida, Nevada and New Mexico.  Progressives need to reach out to the groups that are experiencing growth (Hispanics, people without a religious preference) and introduce progressive ideas to them.  In the 1970s the Republican Party began laying the foundation for the victories that they achieved in the 90s and 2000s (we need a word for the years from 2000 - 2009). 

It would wise for progressives to reach out to groups that naturally (as a result of economic issues) share many progressive ideas.  The demographics are in the favor of progressive ideas. 

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Politics is a fight ...

BruceMcF's picture

... and a multi-player fight, so any particular path is just one among many possible scenarios.

First, a major framing of the partisan fight on the left is whether the radical reactionary wing of the Republican party insists that submission to its program is more important than the survival of the Republican party as a prospective party of government.

If yes, then as the Democratic party "grows" to become the sole party of government, then the "majority of the majority" dynamic inside the Democratic party may give the advantage to the progressive wing. If the progressive wing can take advantage of it (and having an outside the party movement pushing in the same direction proved a critical element in the radical reactionary takeover of the "majority of the majority" position inside the Republican party), then either the Hedge Fund wing negotiates an ongoing series of concessions to the progressive wing, or the progressive wing takes over the party machinery and the hedge fund wing bolts to form a new party, or the hedge fund wing takes over the party machinery and the hedge fund wing bolts to form a new party.

It could well be simpler if the Republicans tack back to the center, which will surely see 5% to 10% radical right breakaway under the libertarian banner or Constitution party banner or some such, the Republican party woo back the Hedge Fund Democrats that theyve purged over the past thirty years, the "moderate" Democrats lose ground due to being hit from both sides, and a genuinely progressive standard bearer emerge.

If the demographic are moving to the advantage of progressive politics, we are going to see enterprising politicians look to capitalize on it ~ just as we saw enterprising politicians move to take advantage of the center-right shift of the 1970's. Whether the end result is to the benefit of seeing actual progressive policies enacted or not will depend quite heavily on the public political character of the more successful of those politicians. We cannot, after all, expect to build a perfectly straight house out of such crooked timber as humankind.

 

 

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the split at GOS a year ago was 75-25 the wrong way

Shahryar's picture

but even then, that's still 1/4 of the people there, some of whom are here now, were strongly opposed to what the President was doing. You would think, as I thought, that it meant that 1/4 of the Democrats would be a force this past Tuesday.

Instead it broke about 98-2 in actual voting.

I'm a little boggled. If there were 100 people in a room and 25 were opposed to endless war, opposed to drones killing innocents, opposed to NDAA, opposed to indefinite detention and so on, we're now finding out that 23 of those 25 still voted for Obama.

I'm adaptable. I'm not going to go around crying about it. I accept that it happened and now I'll move on from here. But it makes it seem a little more daunting to attempt to make things better when those who already know better were drawn into the fear.

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I understand what you're saying

sartoris's picture

The internal conflict that people had on certain issues must have been outweighed by other concerns when they chose to vote for Obama.  However, the point of what I wrote today had absolutely nothing to do with Obama.  Nothing.  Not one single point that I was making had anything to do with Obama.  I suppose I should have made that point more clear.  The point that I made (and continue to make) is that over the next 20 to 30 years the American electorate will change in such a manner that will benefit progressives.  That is what the evidence suggests and that was the point of my article. 

Thanks for reading though.  I always appreciate your comments.

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I still feel pessimistic, though. Here's why...

Shahryar's picture

and I apologize for not being clearer in what I was trying to say, but my point is that those in power have this tool called fear that gets people to vote a certain way, even if the voters are progressives.

I'm comparing all of the progressives who voted for Obama with the progressives of the future. I can't assume that our values will translate into policy in the future because we see that smart, well-meaning people of today can think "but Romney would be a disaster". Why would it be any better 30 years from now?

The names will be different. Obama will be an old man with great-grandchildren, but the good cop and bad cop will still exist and I can see the current younger generation growing older and more cautious, and voting for the good cop, just like so many voted for the good cop this week.

I don't mean to be a downer on this. I'm just thinking that history shows the nastiest among us are the ones who go after power and I expect it'll stay like that, even as the ethnic percentages change. As long as it's the nasties who are running, it'll be easy to convince people to vote against "the other side".

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I understand your pessimism........

sartoris's picture

I might just be the most pessimistic person you could ever meet.  My personality naturally drifts towards the worst case scenario.  I agree that the history of America is one in which fear of something (anarchists, communists, hippies, illegals, terrorists) seems to be remarkably prevalent.  Normally, I would be as pessimistic as anyone else.  However, look at the changes that our heading towards the American political landscape.

From the moment this country was created it was ruled by the very definition of the priviledged.  Rich white males were the only ones allowed to vote and by extension the only ones allowed to create laws.  Everyone else was left fighting for crumbs, if any were even available. 

Within the next 30 years whites will no longer be a majority in America.  They will continue to have a plurality, but that will not be sufficient to allow them to control the political landscape.  Demographics are working against conservatives.  The change will be overnight, but it will happen.  That has to alleviate your pessimism a little?  Right???  A little room for optimism?  Thanks for explaining your concerns to me in more detail.  Also, huge thanks for reading.

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that's why

nemesis's picture

Our solutions do not begin or end at the ballot box.  We have the illusion of choice and it serves as a pressure valve.  

 

We should be raising money to educate people about the true agenda of the dem elites, and not focus on elections at all.  It's a waste of our energy.  By the way, I said this to kos, and he replied that I should get off his site if I felt that way.  Proof, to me anyway, that I am on the right track.  

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Let's not forget those

traveler's picture

who did not to vote, some of whom chose not vote because they are disgusted with both major parties.

I'm not sure the total figures are in yet but it appears that fewer people voted for Obama in this election than voted for George Bush Junior in 2004 despite the likely growth in the number of eligible voters.

 

The powers that be and the obedient corporate media tend to marginalize and ridicule anyone whose positions on important issues are outside the limits of acceptable political discussion. The two party system, with few differences between the candidates on major issues works to their advantage and helps to maintain the status-quo.

 

 

 

 

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the two party system is a failure

sartoris's picture

We should all be working towards the implementation of a Parliamentary system in America.  I'm guessing it is in our future.

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If 46% had voted third party ...

BruceMcF's picture

... the Libertarians would have got 24% of the vote, the Greens 12%, the CP 8%, the SP 2%, and the only difference would be one or two Libertarian as opposed to Extremist Republican Senators.

But you can't ever get a large number on board at once. Its necessary to get a small number on board, and then achieve successes that convince some more people to join, and so on.

What First Past the Post, Single Member District does is to suppress those early successes in electoral policie, so the successful movement has to start out with early successes outside the conventional political party electoral arena.

What "might be" if we jumped straight to a new configuration is not what can possibly be unless there is a path from here to there in incremental steps.

 

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It has been fascinating to watch.

triv33's picture

Who are the leaders of the GOP? It sure as hell isn't anybody that's been elected. I remember reading about how the list of talking points would go out to Fox and at that time thinking, oh, they came from Cheney or Rove and that Fox News was the propaganda arm of the GOP. Now, hell, it's as if the GOP is the political branch of the Conservative Consortium. The electeds take their marching orders from the mouths of the hired talking heads, but they come from the shitweasels who have a stranglehold on our media and most of our weath. For all I know, that's true. I know what Rupert Murdoch did to interfere in the affairs of state in his own country and got away with it too, so? Why not? Hey, fellas--look what I did in Australia, just think of what we could do here. Or...maybe not, but you've got to admit it is bizarre.

 

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the billionaires are the leaders and they want answers

sartoris's picture

A lot of money was spent with very little results and rich people hate excuses.  I would love to hear some of the the verbal thrashings that Karl Rove has been receiving since Tuesday.  He was given a lot of money (of which he took his substantial cut) to deliver this election and he failed miserably.  The leaders of the party are the true 1% from America and abroad.  If I was Karl I'd consider retiring, or at a minimum keeping a very low profile for a few years.

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Certainly, they've been building their ...

BruceMcF's picture

... propaganda network for the conservative movements since the 70's, including Heritage, Cato, and Reason all founded in part by oil money of one form or another, alongside the partisan takeover of the National Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, and etc. All of that was in place before the FCC removed requirements for honest reportingm which opened the door to the Fox News Channel strategy.

Having an ability to give jobs who tried to win positions of influence in the party ~ for loyal political footsoldiers who took a primary or general election defeat ~ was a tremendous benefit in winning control of the state party apperatus in a number of states.

The radical reactionary movement was already gaining the ability to dictate to the elected representative by the 90's, as they successfully primaried representatives who were "too moderate", often even at the expense of general election defeat. And now they've reached the pinnacle, in being able to force their second strongest general election candidate to shoot himself in the foot for the general election in order to secure the primary victory.

It was fascinating watching Jon Huntsman run as if this was still his daddy's Republican party.

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The asertion that working

ActivistGuy's picture

The asertion that working-class voters betray their own economic interests if they vote Republican hinges on an unstated premise that the Democrats have some swort of deep, powerful  commitment that goes beyond rhetoric to fighting to advance the interest and defend the economic status of the working class.  Yes, in the 1930s, under the threat of social upheaval, FDR imposed a social ideology that required that workers be giving a seat at the table and a piece of the economic pie.  During the revolution of rising expectations in the 60s, JBJ likewise offered class-collaborationist policies that included  workers interests as a high priority.  But since LBJ, the only president who has remotely done anything to defend workers' rights was one Richard M. Nixon. 

 

The Dems since have been relentlessly orthodox neoliberals straight off the pages of Forbes and Business Week, the last two Dem presidents the strictest of Reaganist-Thatcherists.  Do you think that if the Governor of Wisconsin had tried to bust the unions in their days, Harry Truman or LBJ would have considered a single "tweet" to be all the support merited by the Wisconsin unions, particularly in that out of several different potential courses of action, they took the one  most friendly to the Democratic Party as an institution?  That's what Obama gave them, but the point isn't to personally criticize him, he acted like ANY current Dem president did, showing a level of "support" for workers more contemptuous than if he had just kept his mouth shut entirely.  You say the working class voters are voting against their economic self-interest, but the Dem pols had no problem folding up on the Bush tax cuts, taking the union money then shitting all over the EFCA, and setting up the Cat Food Commission.  Where's the beef the Dems are supposedly delivering for the working class, and if they deliver nothing, why do they feel entitled to the workers' votes?  What self-interest do workers have in the Bush tax cuts and the Cat Food Commission?

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so, no difference between the two? is that your argument?

sartoris's picture

Is your argument that there is no difference between the two parties?  Was anti-labor legislation proposed in Ohio and Wisconsin by the Democratic Party or the Republican Party?  Really, I'm not in the mood for a no difference between the two parties argument.  My article was on demographics but if you want to glom on to one sentence to make your point, then be my guest.

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