One could argue “the beginning of the end” for Republicans began in 2008 when a visibly aged, baffled and seemingly jaded John McCain picked Sarah “from Alaska” Palin as his running mate.
Then the economy fell apart and there was the subsequent global recession. The beer summit, well that happened. Finally, a newly-elected President Obama got all hemmed up pushing through a divisive health care plan. Consequently, the Democrats had their hats handed to them in the mid-terms. That shut everybody up for a while.
Yet, here we are again. The economy is still struggling. The President is still black, meaning between three and five percent of the electorate will not vote for him regardless. Citizens United is now a political reality, handing Republicans a massive financial advantage.
Nonetheless, we are on the eve of another national presidential election and Obama, the Democrat, is favored in all the polls.
The New Democratic Majority
Despite Mitt Romney’s many oops!, this does not reflect a terminally flawed candidate (see Romney’s performance in the first presidential debate). Nor does it reflect a stellar performance by Obama (see President Obama’s performance in the first presidential debate). It reflects the emergence of a New Democratic Majority. In this attitudinal and ethno-demographic landscape, Democrats are likely to continue to have the advantage for the next generation in national elections. I say that with caveats that I will get into later.
Most political analysts point to key growth areas in the Democratic constituencies, huge swaths of young and Latino Democratic voters while the Republican constituency ages.
You can’t really argue with the numbers. But all this ethnic bean-counting seems like an oversimplification. More simply.
Yes, the voting electorate is becoming less white and decidedly younger. It’s also true that Republicans are incapable of wrangling in their nut jobs. They can’t get over the “illegal” as a noun habit long enough to get through a Telemundo Q&A. And well, when it comes to black folks, let’s just say the “Welfare President meme” isn’t exactly winning hearts and minds.
The emergence of the social progressive
But what is really cool is the convergence of ethno-demographic and attitudinal shifts. Obama tested these waters a few months back in his support of gay marriage.
Black and Latino voters tend to be considerably more religious, but there was no sliding in support of the president, following his support of gay marriage. In fact, there was a noticeable shift for gay marriage among black voters. Obama has seemed to turn it into a civil rights issue and not a religious one. That, my friend, is the basis of strategy for a formidable Democratic alliance.
Defining the fiscally conservative Democrat
Perhaps, the more difficult alliance is amongst progressives and fiscal conservatives.
For lack of a better standard bearer, many associate fiscal conservatism with the Clinton administration.
I know many view the Clinton administration with rose-colored glasses: The impeachment, and the repeal of Glass-Steagall are rarely referenced. But let’s focus on what they remember: a balanced budget, and a growing, opportunity-based economy. Fiscal conservatives seek a government that works with the private sector and one that seeds innovation through investment. And yes, many fiscal conservatives believe it’s unrealistic to expect multinational companies to care from which country their customers or labor originate.
This is not an easy bridge to cross. Yet, if Democrats want to leverage their demographic advantage, they gotta figure it out.
The Emerging Democratic Demography
Between 1988 and 2008, the minority share of voters in presidential elections rose by 11 percentage points, while the share of increasingly progressive white college graduate voters rose by four points. By comparison, the share of white working class voters, who remained conservative, plummeted by 15 points.
The Millennial Generation—those born between 1978 and 2000—gave Obama a 66 percent to 32 percent margin in 2008. This generation is adding 4.5 million adults of voting age every year.
By 2016, many predict that the U.S. will no longer be a majority white Christian nation.
The numbers are real as are the opportunities and challenges. Altruism is a myth, but economic and social justice is worth fighting for.
This may not be the beginning of the end, but it is most definitely the beginning of something.
Devona Walker is politics editor for The Burton Wire.