Politics

Barack Obama And The Death Of Normal

I was on an airplane last night as the election was decided. As the plane landed after midnight on the East Coast, I confess that my hand was shaking as I turned on my phone for the news. I did not want to see dishonesty and divisiveness and raw political hackery rewarded. It is hard enough for anyone to actually address the problems, to move this country forward, to make the intransigent American ruling class yield even a yard of the past to the inevitable future. But going backwards last night would have been devastating. I read the returns in silent elation; a business trip had me traveling in business class and the gnashing of corporate teeth all around precluded a full-throated huzzah on my part. I abhor a gloat.

But the country is changing. And this may be the last election in which anyone but a fool tries to play — on a national level, at least — the cards of racial exclusion, of immigrant fear, of the patronization of women and hegemony over their bodies, of self-righteous discrimination against homosexuals. Some in the Republican party and among the teabagged fringe will continue to play such losing hands for some time to come; this shit worked well in its day and distracted many from addressing any of our essential national issues. But again, if they play that weak-ass game past this point, they are fools.

America is different now, more so with every election cycle. Ronald Reagan won his mandate in an America in which 89 percent of the voters were white. That number is down to 72 percent and falling. Fifty thousand new Latino citizens achieve the voting age every month. America will soon belong to the men and women — white and black and Latino and Asian, Christian and Jew and Muslim and atheist, gay and straight — who can walk into a room and accept with real comfort the sensation that they are in a world of certain difference, that there are no real majorities, only pluralities and coalitions. The America in which it was otherwise is dying, thank god, and those who relied on entitlement and division to command power will either be obliged to accept the changes, or retreat to the gated communities from which they wish to wax nostalgic and brood on political irrelevance.

You want to lead in America? Find a way to be entirely utilitarian — to address the most problems on behalf of the most possible citizens. That works. That matters. Last night, it mattered just enough to overcome the calcified political calculations of men who think that 47 percent will vote against them because they are victims, or that 53 percent are with them because the rest of us vote only from self-interest and without regard for the republic as a whole. It was a closer contest than common sense and the spirit of a truly great nation should dictate. But unless these white guys who have peddled “normal” for so long — normal as in racial majority, normal as in religious majority, normal as in sexual orientation — unless they have a hard moment of self-reflection and self-awareness, well, it will not be this close again.

Eighty years ago, the Democratic party became a national utilitarian enterprise, molding the immigrant waves of Irish and Italian and Jew into a voting bloc that stunned the political opposition and transformed American society, creating the world’s greatest economic engine in the form of a consumer class with vast discretionary income. The New Deal asserted for American progress — shaping and influencing administrations both Democratic and Republican — for three decades before running aground on the shoals of the civil rights movement, resulting racial fears and resentments, and, of course, the Southern strategy of political cynics.

Well, a new voting bloc as formidable as the New Deal coalition certainly isn’t yet complete, and the political results are still fitful. To be sure, venality has transformed the upper house of our national legislature into a paralytic failure, with a new standard of a filibuster-proof supermajority now the norm. The lower house of that legislature reflects less of any national consensus than it does the absurdity of post-census gerrymandering. Never mind Obama. If Romney had won this election, our government would be just as broken. It is the legislative branch that remains an epic systems failure.

For lost and fretful white men, unwilling to accept the terms of a new America, Congress is the last barricade against practical and inevitable change. But there, too, the demographic inevitabilities are all in play. All the gerrymandering in this world won’t make those other Americans, those different Americans, go away. And the tyranny of minority and lack of compromise that you employ to thwart progress now will likely breed an equal contempt when the demographics do indeed provide supermajorities.

Hard times are still to come for all of us. Rear guard actions will be fought at every political crossroad. But make no mistake: Change is a motherfucker when you run from it. And right now, the conservative movement in America is fleeing from dramatic change that is certain and immutable. A man of color is president for the second time, and this happened despite a struggling economic climate and a national spirit of general discontent. He has been returned to office over the specific objections of the mass of white men. He has instead been re-elected by women, by people of color, by homosexuals, by people of varying religions or no religion whatsoever. Behold the New Jerusalem. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a white man, of course. There’s nothing wrong with being anything. That’s the point.

This election marks a moment in which the racial and social hierarchy of America is upended forever. No longer will it mean more politically to be a white male than to be anything else. Evolve, or don’t. Swallow your resentments, or don’t. But the votes are going to be counted, more of them with each election. Arizona will soon be in play. And in a few cycles, even Texas. And those wishing to hold national office in these United States will find it increasingly useless to argue for normal, to attempt to play one minority against the next, to turn pluralities against the feared “other” of gays, or blacks, or immigrants, or, incredibly in this election cycle, our very wives and lovers and daughters, fellow citizens who demand to control their own bodies.

Regardless of what happens with his second term, Barack Obama’s great victory has already been won: We are all the other now, in some sense. Special interests? That term has no more meaning in the New America. We are all — all of us, every last American, even the whitest of white guys — special interests. And now, normal isn’t white or straight or Christian. There is no normal. That word, too, means less with every moment. And those who continue to argue for such retrograde notions as a political reality will become less germane and more ridiculous with every passing year.

Lots of waste and shouting and ignorance still to come, of course. But last night was a milestone.

 

650 Comments

  • Gosh, so much heavy lifting in the comments. Here, this on-topic Louis CK stand-up bit will ease the tension:

  • “That is hardly comparable to attempting to marginalize or even suppress voters who are not of the same race or religion or gender or sexual orientation as your base.”

    You’re referring to Voter ID, right? It’s funny how Democrats see ‘stopping illegal votes” as “suppressing our side”. Or are you seriously suggesting gays don’t know how to get drivers’ licenses?

    Meanwhile, kindly point us to the post expressing your outrage at the suppression of military voters, as state after state violated the law with regard to getting absentee ballots overseas in time for the election. I guess the evilness of “suppression” depends on who the voters in question are likely to choose.

    When you express outrage over a tactic because of the tactic, rather than whose ox is gored, I’ll pay attention to your complaints. Until then you’re simply another partisan hack who enables the lawlessness (encouraging violation of labor laws regarding layoff notices, illegally partisan hiring practices at the DOJ, running guns to Mexican drug cartels) of the Obama administration.

    • Please prove any evidence of a single event of widespread voter fraud over the past several election cycles. Every study of the issue indicates that the issue is a manufactured one.

      As to simplicity of merely providing a driver’s license or state ID, the actual practice of voter suppression involves the examination of required identification and then the false manufacture of unreasonable grounds by which to refuse such an ID or challenge a voter. This has been a routine tactic in voter suppression efforts.

      “This picture doesn’t look like you.”
      “I don’t think this address exists.”
      “Why aren’t you wearing glasses?”
      “What do you mean, you changed addresses a month ago. I have you listed two blocks away…”

      The use of IDs is not in all cases an innocent guard against fraudulent voters (who actually don’t exist in any number, according to recent studies) but instead a wedge that can be used to argue or intimidate voters out of their franchise. That’s the history. And in the present election, there were stories from several states about these precise tactics being employed.

    • There was no “suppression of military voters.” There was only a leveling of voting opportunities and limitations between civilian and military voters.

  • David.

    Do you really believe “There’s nothing wrong with being anything. That’s the point.”? After reading your essay, I just find it hard to believe that you could really listen to someone who disagrees with what appears to be your open-minded, “truth is what you want it to be” perspective. This is not a gotcha comment; I’m sincerely interested in your response. Tolerance today is most often defined as accepting all views as OK as long as those views are sincere — while tolerance is actually showing respect to someone (or group) even if you disagree with them. Someone once said that those who celebrate tolerance of other views always seem amazed that there are other views — where do you really stand?

    Thanks in advance for clarifying.

    • In no way have I ever said that all views are okay. You said that. Those are your words.

      I have said nothing about the relative merits of opinions, some of which are certainly ludicrous, extreme and irrational. I’m pretty well known for advance views I think have merit and attacking those I with which I have little regard.

      I am saying that I believe in a society that not merely tolerates, but even welcomes the black and brown of people of color, the authority of women over their own bodies and life choices, the open homosexuality of gays and lesbians, as well as the aspirations of immigrants to achieve a better life as my neighbors. And further I am saying that I will vote for the political candidates and party that best exemplify that spirit and I will vote against those that do not. And even further in this essay, I am saying that the Republican Party, augmented by the tea drinkers, have been so deliberate in their opposition to these minority groups that they have successfully achieved a majority willing to vote as an emerging Democratic coalition.

      How does any of what I have said amount to tolerance for any and all views?

      • Thanks for clarifying. I misunderstood your statement “there’s nothing wrong with being anything”; sounds like you were referring to skin color or ethnicity — not beliefs. In that sense, I understand. A final question: what if someone sincerely agrees with you on helping the poor — and also believes that abortion is murder? i.e., if you really care about the poorest of the poor, what about the very poorest among us (infants in the womb) that, more than any living poor person, can’t speak for themselves? I’m not suggesting you would ever get to agreement, but could you listen to them respectfully? I’m hoping yes, but not sure.

        • Actually, I believe it is entirely legitimate to believe that abortion is the killing of a human being. When life begins is an argument that well-meaning people can certainly have. But it is also an argument that well-meaning people can’t resolve. There is no definitive answer that is going to convince either pro-life or pro-choice Americans to abandon their position.

          If that is the case, then we — as a society, not as individuals — must somehow come to a plausible reckoning.

          If we outlaw abortion in this country, or we restrict its access based on class and economic opportunity, then affluent women will travel elsewhere for abortions and less affluent women will return to back alleys. The prohibition on abortion was untenable in the past and it will be no less brutalizing to the health of women in the future.

          The only and inevitable solution is for pro-life activists to continue to present their arguments in the context of social and religious settings — to bring their convictions to the marketplace of ideas, but to eschew any effort to legislate individual action. Women’s bodies belong to them, not to the society. A fundamental civil liberty is breached when the law and government interpose in what must be an intensely personal and fraught weighing of a decidedly personal issue.

          This can never be resolved as a legalism. It will only be resolved, frankly, by each and every woman confronted with choice. That pro-life advocates need to assert for their beliefs is understandable and inevitable, just as pro-choice advocates must do. But the debate cannot have a political or legal conclusion, because no such conclusion can ever actually function other than terrorize women and deny them control over their own bodies and lives.

          • David, that was the best response I’ve read to date re: pro-life v. pro-choice. Love your work, and thanks for responding to your readers’ questions through this medium. How soon can we get you back on Jason Whitlock’s podcast?

          • But I guess any profits they make with those bodies they control don’t really belong to them do they? Society gets first dibs, right?

            And if those female bodies disagree, well we can send along some guys with guns to force them to comply with our desire to control the fruits of their labors.

            • What on earth are you talking about? Read your own comment out loud to yourself and ask yourself if it makes any sense whatsoever. I’m only 20% trying to insult you. The other 80% is simply very concerned.

            • Are you really saying profits and properties are extensions of our bodies?!

              That appears to be a testable hypothesis trivially proven false. So let’s not talk about it!

          • I think it’s worth noting that there is a very real issue behind the abortion issue; that abortion is the beard for something else. It stands to reason that to be pro-life or anti-abortion, some solutions would be offered beyond closing down abortion clinics and putting the doctors involved on death row. A good argument could be made that the availability of contraceptives and sex education can do a lot to curb the need for abortion. I am sure there are studies suggesting exactly that. Yet, pro-lifers are not only opposed to abortion, they are opposed to contraception, to the day-after pill, to sex education. And they are strongly opposed; this is no mild disdain. So, then, what is this really about? The pro-life movement is in reality anti-sex. They can’t say that, of course, because a declaration decrying sex in general is not going to find as many devotees as pictures of aborted fetuses. But there it is. That is what the “pro-lifers” platform is really about. Sadly, they really don’t care all that much about abortions or aborted fetuses for that matter. Probably many of them could muster up a good argument in favor of the abortion of brown babies (especially if they could subsequently incarcerate the mother, of course). The underlying issue is they care about sex, and don’t want other people to have it – unless of course it’s between properly married white Christian men and women.

          • I am encouraged to read that you support reasoned discussion…and a fair hearing for other points of view. Good for you — and hopefully discussions like the ones you describe will take place, and our country will benefit. I did not expect that after reading your description of the folks who voted against (or campaigned against) the President’s re-election. My challenge to you is to visit with folks who voted against Obama and see if the majority really fit the descriptions found in your essay.

            • Bruce, I did not vote for Obama. I voted for Jill Stein. I have major problems with Obama’s performance to date: the NDAA, drones, raids on medical marijuana dispensaries to name just a few.

              As a woman, I would never feel welcomed in a party that tells me I don’t know what is best for me, medically. Period.

              Man, I would love a “like” or “dislike” button here! Some great comments.

  • In case you can’t hear it, I am applauding. Did you catch the voting map on nyt yesterday, though? It was an interesting visualization of how much of the country actually moved to the right this year. Mathematically, I think that’s just a product of how far left we moved four years ago, but that data does run counter to some of your conclusions. That said, yours is a spirited address, and one can’t deny that whether the sea change is happening now or soon, the rivers are flowing and the water is fine.

  • You say in the comments that “What this essay says is that the political strategy of pitting your base of support against the external “other”…The strategy backfired and it will continue to do so, increasingly.”

    And yet, that’s exactly the same tactic employed by the Democrats. Obama attacked the rich for being too successful, attacked businesses for being too successful, attacked people who want self-determination over government “provision”, attacked people who want less tax penalties for personal success, attacked Catholics who want freedom of religion in their organizations, attacked people who think it’s normal to expect someone to pay for their own condoms, etc. Conservative values were constantly under attack, even though there are plenty of black, latino, women, and gays who share those values.

    Nobody played more character assassination cards this election than Obama’s campaign. And guess what: it totally worked.

    Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that your party is somehow clean on playing the FUD card and painting their opponents as evil boogeymen and women, as opposed to rational people with a different viewpoint. After all, “There’s nothing wrong with being anything. That’s the point.”

  • You say in the comments that “What this essay says is that the political strategy of pitting your base of support against the external “other”…The strategy backfired and it will continue to do so, increasingly.”

    And yet, that’s exactly the same tactic employed by the Democrats. Obama attacked the rich for being too successful, attacked businesses for being too successful, attacked people who want self-determination over government “provision”, attacked people who want less tax penalties for personal success, attacked Catholics who want freedom of religion in their organizations, attacked people who think it’s normal to expect someone to pay for their own condoms, etc. Conservative values were constantly under attack, even though there are plenty of black, latino, women, and gays who share those values.

    Nobody played more character assassination cards this election than Obama’s campaign. And guess what: it totally worked.

    Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that your party is somehow clean on playing the FUD card and painting their opponents as evil boogeymen and women, as opposed to rational people with a different viewpoint. After all, “There’s nothing wrong with being anything. That’s the point.”

    • You are correct that all sorts of vilification of opponents occurs from all camps during an election cycle. The Dems do not have clean hands.

      But you have equivocated on the content of my essay.

      It is one thing to vilify Republicans, or conservatives or Wall Streeters or venture capitalists. It may be dishonest stereotyping and over-simplification, but these are political or economic cohorts. That is hardly comparable to attempting to marginalize or even suppress voters who are not of the same race or religion or gender or sexual orientation as your base. That is the critique.

      • In addition to what David said – I think that the first comment is a mischaracterization. Did Obama “attack the rich for being too successful.”

        I don’t remember him saying anything that attacked people for being “too successful. His critique is that successful people are able to be successful both through their own initiative but also through the amazing American infrastructure and that they should pay back into it.

        To characterize that as attacking people for being “too successful” is a big distortion. Nobody think somebody who is successful should be chided. That would be silly and petty. The critique was on how society can/should work with people who are successful to ensure continued success for all (including those already successful).

        • The fact is that successful people/business differ over whether paying more taxes constitutes any kind of “attack”. I think for those untinged by ideology, taxation is just part of the economic climate. It is bizarre and counterfactual to assume the things we LIKE about the economic climate (such as easy truck transport to all parts of the country) can be easily had without the things we may not (such as “higher” tax rate, even if they’re lower than other places, and lower than they’ve always been here until recently).

        • Not only did Obama not attack people for being “too successful”, but claiming that paying taxes is a penalty is a veiled commentary on the role of taxes and government.

          If you believe that the less taxes we pay, the better, then this “attack on success” argument holds water. But if you believe that taxes are actually awesome because they reduce or eliminate costs we would otherwise have to bear, then this argument is senseless. Taxes save you money.

          I’m not suggesting our tax code is perfect, but the idea that we can achieve more, better, and faster for more people without taxation is inarguably false. Paying no taxes sounds awesome until you realize you have no government, no infrastructure, no education, etc, and everything has to be financed by the private sector, which would yield untenable inequalities and a truly deplorable society.

          So rather than vilify the idea of taxation, let’s work to improve the value and benefits of it. That way, we can increase the benefit to those who pay.

    • Amen to that, Doug.

      The smug moral superiority of leftists is getting increasingly infuriating. Which campaign was it who accused the other guy of being “Not One of Us”? Oh yeah, that’s right: Obama’s. Which campaign was it that constantly thrashed on about a bogus “war on women”? Oh, that’s right, Obama’s. Which campaign was it that consistently demonized rich people (because, heaven knows, they aren’t human or worthy of respect)? Oh, that’s right, Obama’s. Oh, and by the way, which mighty champion of the poor and scourge of the pampered rich was it who won EIGHTY PERCENT of the 10 richest counties in America? Oh yeah, that’s right. Obama.

      Show me one racially tinged thing the Romney campaign did. See how I cited specific examples up above? Give me just one. Give me one example of Romney playing the race card. You can’t, because he didn’t.

      Face it: you’re so damned reverse racist that you think anybody who has the temerity to run against your sainted Obama is inherently racist. That’s what it boils down to. You won’t see it. You won’t ever see it. But you infuriate and sadden me with your blindness and your holier-than-thou attitude.

      You think the vast majority of the Republican vote isn’t based on a sincere belief that borrowing more money and saddling our children with even more debt is a bad idea? You think the vast majority of prolifers are really people who are trying to keep women in chains? You don’t see even the *slight* possibility that someone might care as much about an unborn baby’s life as about, say, the life of the delta smelt that would be such a righteous cause for your side?

      You claim to be on the side of tolerance. You claim to be on the side of the open-minded. You claim to have righteousness on your side. You’re full of shit. You, and so many Hollywood liberals and media liberals, are the most intolerant people on the planet. You can’t abide that somebody *actually* might have a different view of the world, or a different opinion. So those who disagree have to be racists and sexists. They just HAVE to. There’s no other possible explanation of how anyone could disagree with your choice for president. Your side — even though examples of corruption and venal opportunism are evident everywhere — your side is the bringer of light and truth, to the exclusion of all others.

      And *we’re* the intolerant ones? Grow up, Simon. Grow up, all of Hollywood. Get a clue and get a grip. People who disagree with you aren’t evil. They think our problems should be solved in a different way.

      You can’t see that, because *you* are the one with entrenched, unthinking views. All of you supposedly independent-thinking liberals who went through colleges that brainwashed you into seeing sexism and racism at every turn — you think that the fact that you believe exactly what your professors told you to believe is the product of your brilliant minds coming together? Wake up and become truly independent thinkers and understand that people who disagree with you are not evil.

      God, I’m so tired of leftwing bullshit.

        • Well, I suppose your link does mention race as a factor in politics. So that gets you maybe 0.001% of the way to proving the point. If saying that the other side is motivated by racial concerns is “playing the race card,” then your side has done it a billion times more than the GOP ever did. Simon himself does it here. So that’s racism?

          What I was referring to, and I’m sure you knew this, was Simon’s mentioning “the cards of racial exclusion.” And it just didn’t happen. Imagine how ballistic you would have gone on racism charges if Romney had run the “Not One of Us” ad. YOUR side is the side of exclusion and making opponents “the other.”

          You guys have to convince yourselves that Romney, a man centrist enough to have been elected governor of true-blue Massachusetts, whose father was active in the Civil Rights movement, is somehow the epitome of racism in our society *simply because he ran as a Republican.* It’s hypocritical, it’s unthinking, it’s shameful, and it’s shameful.

          As is the comment on “hegemony over women’s bodies.” That’s not what the abortion debate is about, and Simon admits it elsewhere in the comments here. But liberals just have this knee-jerk response that any disagreement with your unexamined beliefs must be based on racism and sexism. I wish you could see yourselves in the mirror, but I know you never will.

      • Wow, DJ. That is a mighty strong reaction.

        *Mitt Romney* identified himself as not one of the “47%,” remember? Romney did, not Obama. Obama just underscored it. As well he should have.

        As for the racism. This is always a crazytown discussion to have, because now, apparently, the only thing that qualifies as “racist” for some is burning a cross on someone’s lawn. So rather than consider the history of racism in the US, and its use particularly within the Republican Party (from the Southern Strategy on), we pretend that calling black people “lazy” or not correcting your SURROGATES when they say Obama is “unAmerican”, or running ads that are patently false about Obama’s policies on welfare are just game on. Truth be told, from Trump to Sununu, those aren’t dog whistles. They are air raid sirens and we can all hear them. It is disingenuous, it seems to me, to assert otherwise. Or, as David Simon has articulated, it shows how unaware a portion of the population is of a vast amount of America, their histories and their experiences.

        That tin ear, it seems to me Simon is saying, is going to prove to be a political Titanic.

        Obama did not demonize the rich. You are laying out an untrue premise and then asking folks to “defend” a faulty and misleading characterization. I won’t be able to say this better than commenter David (not Simon) did earlier, so I’ll just quote him: “Did Obama “attack the rich for being too successful.” I don’t remember him saying anything that attacked people for being “too successful. His critique is that successful people are able to be successful both through their own initiative but also through the amazing American infrastructure and that they should pay back into it.” That is it. You benefit from the system, you support the system that helped make you a success.

        David also addressed your pro-life argument. Reasonable people can disagree on the question of life and the morality of abortion. However, those disagreements cannot be made law because the repercussions of mandating action in that regard are simply untenable. And yes, to make abortion illegal is, in fact, keeping women in chains. It would make a woman who had an abortion subject to jail time. Since that position was in the GOP platform this year and supported by Paul Ryan, that is not so much hyperbole.

        I can’t do a point-by-point rebuttal, but what I find really interesting about this response is that it fails completely to engage with the substance of the remarks. David is speaking totally about dealing with other viewpoints. He simply argues that the “other” viewpoint has to join a culture and world that is expanding and engage. The GOP isn’t just holding a different view of the world. It is standing for legislating and suppressing the people who hold those views.

        There just is no equivalence here. None.

        • Excellent response, sugarpeas. How anyone can miss the blatant racism that republicans have bathed in ever since Ronald Reagan talked about the “welfare mother in a Cadillac” is beyond me. Everyone knows exactly what that sentence meant, and RR (the man who illegally sold guns to Iran BTW) rode that phrase to the presidency. They Republican party has been using some version of that slur ever since.

      • Is every Republican racist? Of course not. Is Mitt Romney racist? I doubt it.

        Does the overwhelming majority of racially insensitive rhetoric in American politics today come from the right? Yes.

        Pete Hoekstra’s superbowl ad. Rick Perry’s hunting grounds. Ron Paul’s newsletters. You are correct: most conservatives are not racist. So why are the people they choose to support?

        The same is true for sexism. Regardless of where you stand on abortion issues, Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments were indefensible. Republicans fiercely opposed the renewable of the Violence Against Women Act. Tom Smith equated pregnancy from rape with pregnancy out of wedlock.

        I have so far limited myself to candidates that the right has nominated for political office. If I were to descend into the darkness of conservative talk radio and online media, I’m sure it would not be difficult to find more striking examples.

        I am certain that these views are not representative of the majority of conservatives. So why do they continue to hold so much sway over Republican politics?

        Do you think this criticism is the result of “unthinking” views? I’m especially intrigued by the narrative of victimhood you cling to — as if being conservative has been the source of structural discrimination economically, politically, and socially. As if liberals have sole claim to “righteous,” “holier-than-thou” attitudes. As if believing that racism and sexism are persistent problems in America is the result of brainwashing and groupthink.

        I do not wish to demonize conservatism. Certainly I do not wish to predict conservatives’ quick fall to eternal damnation — as many on the right have done to homosexuals. I don’t think anyone thinks that wealthy individuals are not human, although I do believe that their interests do not always align with the rest of the electorate.

        You accuse liberals of uncritically lashing out at those who would attack Obama. Are you unaware of the often strident criticism he has received from many members of the left? Many are genuinely frightened by Obama’s exercises of executive power, including but not limited to the drastic expansion of targeted assassination programs.

        Finally, you accuse the left of intolerance. Who do you believe we do not tolerate? Calls for a solution to the debt crisis are often bipartisan — and the failure to resolve it is as well. Pro-life points of view are perfectly acceptable within the liberal mainstream, if somewhat frowned upon. What “different view of the world” do you believe liberalism excludes?

        If it is one that denies the existence of racism and sexism, that believes that homosexuality is a sin, that denies climate change as a hoax perpetrated by science, that maintains that intellectualism is effete, then yes, perhaps we can agree to disagree.

      • DJ my friend, I couldn’t have crafted a better response to David Simon’s rant. You literally hit the nail on the head my friend. Oh, and just so I sound really cool – I’ll swear like Simon to get my point across – Fuckin A brother, fuckin A.

      • Romney is on tape from the same fundraiser the 47% comment came from saying he’d more likely to be elected president if he were Latino. I guess one could infer that this comment is saying that Latinos would vote for another Latino not based on record or merit but just by ethnicity. I do believe you have been watching too much Bill O’Reilly and perhaps have bought into the Fox campaign that ‘Obama hates white people.’ Wow.

      • DJ– while it is certainly true that members of any race (itself a completely invented construct, but that’s a whole other issue) can be prejudiced toward any other, there is simply no such thing as “reverse racism.” It’s nice, comforting thing that a lot of white folks tell themselves when someone calls them out for dickish or insensitive behavior, but it’s simply not true.

        Why? Because words actually have meaning, and prejudice does not equal racism. Racism is prejudice plus institutional (cultural, economic, political) power over the subjugated group. I, as a white man, am not part of a subjugated group. Can my feelings ever get hurt? Sure. But you can damn well be sure I’m not getting followed around your local convenience store when I go in to buy a soda. I can probably also squeak out of a minor drug offense without getting jail time. And when I wear a hoodie, I’m a hipster, not a “thug.”

        So suck it up, licked your wounded pride, and stop feeling like you’re a victim for being white. Because it is just silly.

      • Oh yes, there was no racial subtext at all in those zillion welfare attack ads Romney ran in the late summer…you know the one’s where they basically said Obama was raiding medicare to pay for people to sit home and collect checks? Or that he had gutted the work requirements for welfare. Funny how the “hardworking Americans” in the ads were ALL white. Those were the ads that, after they were found to be complete garbage, people in the campaign said they weren’t going to let fact-checkers dictate their message. They proved that was the case tenfold.

  • David, I am crying as I read your posting. Why? because I have been discriminated against my whole life, disowned by my family. My tears are the emotion of years of frustration. My tears are the emotion of joy and hoping that the words you have written become the norm for this country. For now I will celebrate the election of a brilliant man of color who has an inclusive not exclusive heart. I am proud to be an American today and relieved that my fellow Americans understand what move forward means. Thanks for the tears, you have gained a fan and supporter of your writing. Thanks for making me feel good for today and filled with hope for tomorrow!!!

  • White male here, eager to make my mark and be a job creator in the like of Mr. Simon.

    I’m thrilled with Tuesday night’s results. I enjoy, particularly, that Americans in states I enjoy are now supporting marriage equality and that all the “rape” guys got voted out.

    I’m a white male and I’m fine with the patina of that designation being worn. I’ll still get mine. I want to hastened the leveling of the playing field to the point where no one feels the need to apologize for success and just gets their work done. I recognize that, best case, this might only happen when I’m much older.

    I guess I’m just happy we’re getting somewhere. Next fight: fixing education (childless white male leans back, watches battle, eats popcorn– crunch).

    JIC Mr. Simon is reading: Having spent much time in Bal’more (north of Patterson Park) and New Orleans (7 Ward)– the places seem similar beyond their shared urban poverty and historic port culture. Any theory?

  • “I did not want to see dishonesty and divisiveness and raw political hackery rewarded.”

    But that’s exactly what you did see. Did you truly not hear The One’s “pants on fire” lies? The invented “war on women” that existed only in the minds of frightened liberals? Did you somehow miss his endless – divisive – class warfare? His “sheer political hackery” was legion. “Elections have consequences, and I won” is not a recipe for cooperation.

    Now he’ll be even more arrogant and dismissive of the Republicans – he’s vowed to veto any attempt to avoid the “fiscal cliff” unless the GOP kneels before him – and he’ll suffer no consequences for it. You’ve made your bed, champ. Now we’ll all fester in it.

    • Have you forgotten that Boehner MADE a deal to avoid this fiscal-cliff crap, and then house republicans forced him to RENEGE? Down the memory hole with such facts?

      But the people haven’t forgotten.

  • Texas *will* soon be in play. As a “normal” white lady, I can’t wait.

    Thank you for breaking it down so eloquently.

    This is indeed a milestone for America.

      • According to Rice University (and acknowledging that not all votes have been counted yet), the latino vote rose from 20 to 25% in this past election. Thus far, the President has netted almost 300,000 more votes from hispanics in 2012 as compared to ’08. Even with conservative growth in 2016, as well as the likelihood of a major female candidate running for the Democrats (and we know what kind of support Hilary Clinton garnered in Texas in the 2008 primary), the numbers start to get interesting.

        It’s not completely out the question that we see Democrats campaigning in Texas, or at least spending money there, especially before the election cycle really starts going.

        Nobody has to point this out, but I will anyway…if the Democrats managed to flip Texas to even a tossup state…you’re talking about essentially half the electoral votes needed to win a Presidential election coming from just four states – Texas, New York, California, and Massachusetts. You throw in Arizona to go along with Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, etc, and few paths would then exists for the GOP to reach 270.

  • “A national political party can’t manufacture angry white men fast enough to triumph,”
    ***
    Why the characterization of white men as “angry”? Cannot white men have legitimate, fundamental differences of opinion with other groups or does it by definition always have to stem from “anger”? I would say they can. Would that label be politically correct were it hung on some other group(s)? I would say not. Hell, you cannot even describe a black man as “clean,” like Biden did of Obama once.

    • Well, because I keep listening to the words that come out of their mouths when they are talking about the issues affecting my country.

      • Like what? The only anger I hear is from liberals after they just won an election. I think it’s in your head. Or a stereotype that has no basis in fact.

        • (I know, I know, indulging a troll)

          Bill O’Reilly and David Simon made similar post-election acknowledgements on race hegemony: this post and O’Reilly on Fox News, which is far more petulant, divisive, and angry:

          “The white establishment is now the minority, and the voters, many of them, feel that the economic system is stacked against them and they want stuff. You are going to see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama. Overwhelming black vote for President Obama. And women will probably break President Obama’s way. People feel that they are entitled to things and which candidate, between the two, is going to give them things? The demographics are changing. It’s not a traditional America anymore.”

          For sheer, insubstantial anger, I could put up some of my future father-in-law’s Facebook posts. The liberal stereotype of religious fundamentalist conservatives is certainly comical, but the man certainly lives up — and exceeds — them.

    • You don’t consider Sean Hannity angry? The man is seething. When the country doesn’t share his bizarre view of this country, he is absolutely baffled – as are, by the way, most of Hannity’s viewers…who are so completely isolated inside the Fox News bubble that they simply can’t accept any other explanation for this election result other than the one Hannity (and O’Reilly and Limbaugh, and Coulter, etc. ) handed them – which is that all of Obama’s voters, a majority of Americans, just want handouts.

      This notion is ridiculous, of course, and to a certain extent, it’s just a reactionary statement based on emotion. But yes, these people are angry.

      They are angry that science disputes their ridiculous assertions about climate change, and female defense mechanisms that prevent pregnancy during “legitimate rape”. These people are angry that as a country, we are no longer interested in having religious views, or someone else’s “morality” forced on us, where women who, God forbid, want to control the medications they use instead of having to clear it with their employers, are called “sluts”.

      If you don’t think Rush Limbaugh is angry, you’re too far inside the Fox News bubble yourself.

      The Department of Labor job statistics don’t look good — must be the President is fixing the numbers. You don’t like a woman standing up and saying no, women should not have to have approval for contraception through their employer, she must be a slut. Climate change? that’s not real. The scientists are just leftwing nuts who are simply engaging in another form of class warfare against successful corporations. Independant organizations claim Romney’s tax plan would increase the burden on the middle class? Well, they’re clearly biased because no objective organization would say such a thing!

      I’m a polling nerd, and a huge fan of Nate Silver of the NY Times. I’ve been reading his stuff since his work with Baseball Prospectus in 2003. The guy developed his model, using polling data as well as other elements, in an attempt to estimate probabilities during elections. And he’s nailed both elections Obama’s been a part of.

      Because his numbers this year didn’t look good for Romney, he was attacked mercilessly…his numbers were clearly not right because he’s gay, or efffeminate, etc…and then, when he didn’t rise to the bait, the new argument came out of the Fox News bubble, what John Stewart calls Bullshit Mountain….ALL the polls that showed the President winning the swing states by a modest but comfortable number (polls which turned out to be almost right on the nose) were incorrect because they were “biased in favor of Obama” and “oversampled” Democrats. Nevermind the fact that while there are biased polling organizations, they are few in number, and usually favor the Republican (Rasmussen, for example…as well as Gallup this cycle)…these organizations don’t pre-determine what their sample is supposed to look like. You call 35,000 people. 3000 respond, and if the number is Democrats +7, then that’s the number…it’s not fudged or fixed. But the Republicans didnt’ want to hear it. Then the election happens, pretty much mirroring the polling numbers, well, it just doesn’t make sense!

      Why? Because it’s not what the people inside the Fox News bubble told them. It didnt fit in with the Fox narrative of “Republicans are enthused…Romney’s got momentum (he had it for roughly a week, based on numbers), Democrats are not enthusiastic and will not show up”…etc.

      Oh yes, they’re angry. The country has changed. You either accept it or you don’t.

  • The author seems to take pride in categorizing people by their gender, sexual orientation, country of origin and skin color.

    Personally, I place no regard on such matters. What I do find important is the undeniable fact that socialism is a bankrupt philosophy that has failed in every attempt. The Utopia of liberalism would seem to dictate that success be averaged down: no one should succeed too much at life so that no one should ever fail. The end result of course is that the entirety of society can never escape mediocrity.

    So here we find ourselves. We ask the government spend endlessly, borrow deeply, and tax more, so that no one is denied what they could earn on their own. Here is free housing. Free food. Free medical care. Free cell phones. Subsidized of course by the despised “successful” among us. How long until the successful are insufficient in numbers to provide for those in need? And what, pray tell, happens then?

  • I’m richer than you. I have enough and am not adjectively challenged. Everyone pays taxes or fees. Some don’t pay Federal Income Taxes. You are only fooling yourself.

    • DAVEL, what’s racist about it? That it recognizes that different races and types of people exist, and that it speaks to the actions of white men over the years? He didn’t say every white man was fighting progress–I’m a white man, and I’m happy to see these changes happening–but the core group of those trying to hang on to the past is comprised of straight white men, just as he said. What’s racist about recognizing that, as well as recognizing that the demographics of this country are changing, further building upon the melting pot so many say is the core of our strength but some really don’t respect?

      • @jess

        The author makes many criticisms of a section of society that finds its home in the republican party. However if you read the post the tone is one that seems to extend these sentiments to the broader community as a whole.

        I am not saying those sentiments do not exist. Racism exists in virtually every community on Earth.

        I live in NYC and while most people I run into are tolerant of others to one degree or another there are those who hate one group or another for whatever reason.

        My point with the comment above is his criticisms of elements of the republican party are valid. He makes some good points about the changing of demographics in America. However his comments are couched in anger and hate. He comes very close in almost all cases with articulating the thought that the white man is bad.

        In case anyone wasn’t paying attention there are republicans who are not white. Some prominent ones are even female and not white, like Condoleezza Rice.

        The republican party is currently way too radical and too rigid. The last republican to win the presidency seemed like a nice guy. He appointed a varied cabinet and spoke some spanish. However in his campaign he dabbled in race bating because there are certain members of the party that like that.

        I think Romney lost mostly because of some bad gaffes late in the cycle that did not give him time to recover from and the fact that he moved to the right during the nomination process and then shifted to the left during the general election cycle. The disparity was too great for reasonable people paying attention to ignore.

        There are many people in this country who hate the president because of his skin color. They need to get over it. Some won’t. Obama broke the race barrier and I applaud him for it.

        Who we vote for as president should be based on character and vision and ideas. Their religion, race or anything else incidental to the job are irrelevant.

  • I found your article very interesting. It has already appeared a number of times on my news feed on Facebook.

    I agree with your premise that this was the most racially polarizing election in modern history. I would actually state in the history of the United States. But while you see a sea-change, I see something equally unsustainable for either side.

    There is no mistake that the Republicans were courting the white vote. Karl Rove and Newt Gingeridge (sp?) have both stated this, Newt applying regret at the “miscalculation”. It was a specific strategy started by GW Bush when his father was running for president, to court the white evangelical vote and added to the Southern strategy that started with Nixon. And as a result, 60% of that group went handily for Romney. The result being, as you noted, that everyone else bailed on the Republicans and voted for Obama or other because of the disenfranchisement of their campaign. As NPR has noted, they are courting a shirking portion of the electorate.

    My hope from this election (and unfortunately the “conservatives” in this thread are dashing these hopes as trolls) is that the Republican party can have a come-to-Jesus conference about their policies and rhetoric regarding social issues. I am a Democrat, but I have voted for Republicans in the past. I have voted for those Republicans, because there are ideas on the Republican side of the aisle that I agree need to be moved forward and add value to Democrat ideas–fiscal responsibility, smaller more efficient government, and the creation of a environment that is more pro-small business. Here is the problem. While these candidates get up there any spout all of this and say this is what they believe, when they actually get into office they seem to forget all of these core values and go for social re-engineering and conflict with Democrats and borrowing money instead of figuring out ways to pay for their policies. Oh to have a Republican party that didn’t live in a fantastical world of hypocrisy and rose-colored glasses. That would be a candidate that I could actually get behind.

    The numbers were right there in front of the Republicans the entire time. Nathan Silver’s model as well as others continued to produce a win for Obama over and over and over again. Even Real Clear Politics’s polls were showing a likely win for Obama. While race does play a role in this election, the Republicans counted on the down economy and voter suppression in the form of ID cards, threats of violent revolution (still haven’t seen any of the riots that were promised if Obama won), and other tactics to win. They continue to live in their little Fox News world where of course they were going to win, because that is what they were telling themselves, rather than looking at the real numbers placed in front of their faces. According to Silver’s model the night before the election, Obama had a 73% chance of winning. His numbers never went lower than 65% throughout the entire campaign cycle. Throughout the campaign anytime the polls came back and favored Obama, the right shouted louder that the polls were int he tank for Obama. No, the polls were showing you what was going to happen. You were just not willing to accept it and do something about it.

    Now, here is the unsustainable part for the Democrats. The Republicans are in a good position to lick their wounds and rebound from this. They are pros at reinvention. They will most likely turn and look at the numbers. I think Karl Rove being handed his own ego on national television when he tried to call the numbers guys to task for calling Ohio for Obama will never ignore numbers again. They are going to reinvent themselves. They are going to court the Latino vote like no tomorrow. They will stumble at first, because they don’t have a natural ability to speak to non-whites right now (hence the make-up debacle with Romney on Univision), but that won’t last for long, and there are a number of prominent Latinos in the Republican party to help them through the hurtles. (It will be interesting to see how the racists in the GOP react to this new move, but I think the numbers might convince them that this is do or die time).

    Democrats are still in a good position to court the minority communities in this country, but the next group of candidates are not Obama. Obama is in a unique position to take advantage of these demographics because he is from a single-mom, middle-income, mixed-race family that struggled to survive at times. His appeal is broad and transcends a number of barriers that usually exsist for any candidate. Clinton and Biden can easily be identified by some, but certain not to the breath of Obama. Clinton will probably be able to garner the women’s vote (no one can say that she is anti-abortion, contraception, or believes women should be in the kitchen while men bring home the bacon). Biden will be able to appeal to the white, working class men. However, I think that both of them are going to have a harder time appealing in the way that Obama did to the minority groups and energizing that electorate. While minority groups traditionally, over the last few decades, have voted Democrat the numbers have been low until Obama–a candidate they can identify visually and emotionally.

    The only way the Democrats are going to win the white house and most of congress over the next 4 years is with a couple of milestones that will HAVE to take place:

    1. Economy has to turn around. Period. Otherwise the Democrats will then officially own it as a failure. They don’t right now, which is why the economy-stupid argument didn’t work. Many people thought that Obama hadn’t had enough time to turn it around and the downturn was still owned by Bush.

    2. The Dream Act has to pass and some form of legislation on immigration that includes a road to citizenship for the 15 million illegal immigrants that are here and contributing to the economy has to take place or at least look like it is moving forward.

    3. The Obama ground game needs to transform into a community outreach organization where people can visibly see Democrats fighting for their needs in their communities. I think this is probably the easiest of all of these needs. I would love to see Michelle ditch her food crusade and start spearheading this. She is perfect for it.

    Republicans have an easier road to winning, than the Democrats. All they have to do is continue to block every economy saving bill as they have been doing over the past 2 years and continue to blame it on Obama not being able to work with them. Seemed to work very well for the white electorate, but eventually more and more will grow tired of the grid lock and just vote Republicans in to get something done or not vote at all (more likely) because they fail to see the point. The other thing that Republicans need to do and can do is court the Latino vote. This is a traditionally Catholic community and thus conservative community by nature. If they can drop the anti-immigrant all non-whites equal violent criminals out to destroy America diatribe they have been spouting for almost a decade now, and pull in a good number of those that actually vote in that community, then the Dems will lose the edge that gave them this election.

    So, sea-change, yes, but not one that is cemented to either party right now in my view. Republicans still have a chance, but only if they really are willing to accept change on day one.

    • “Republicans have an easier road to winning, than the Democrats.”

      I suggest you visit any serious conservative web site which is discussing “lessons learned” before you spout more nonsense like that.

      “All they have to do is continue to block every economy saving bill as they have been doing over the past 2 years and continue to blame it on Obama not being able to work with them.”

      That worked so well this time, didn’t it? As the MSM consistently blamed Republicans only for every failed legislative attempt, not even addressing the fact that Harry Reid has been violating the law for over 3 years (you know, the law that says he has to produce a budget).

  • David,

    I’m not going to say your ideals are wrong. (Yeah that but is coming.) When you look at successes in life, you see people from all races, walks of life, social classes, you see a diverse group of people. So I know just from experience that success is truly colorblind and non-discriminating. Anyone can find their space in life and move up and stand out for their expertise/talent in those spaces.

    And here comes the but. If you simply wanted a diverse group of “leaders,” those who are not white – You got it. Bravo you won. But what does that mean without vision or leadership? I’m not going to even come close to say that all these people are not leaders or do not have vision, but because they are simply not white does not mean they are such.

    The problem is when you boil down political attacks they don’t answer any real questions, they are pure marketing and cheap social engineering. For example, the attack on Colleen Lachowicz over WOW was a simple example of my issues with this country. On one side we have a group of politicians who thinks making an issue of WOW to be the best way to prove someone is out of touch. On the other side the response is “Look how many people play video games.” In the end all i see is one side being out of touch and the other side shares a hobby I like to partake in. I don’t know anything about her or the other party, other then they love red herrings.

    And there’s my issue – This election, and for a long time, is one of red herrings. All I learned from the debates is that I need Big Bird as my president, but only if he doesn’t carry binders. I don’t know anything more about Romney, nor was I convinced Obama was a good choice for President. I’m left with people who are great at making political ploys and pleads, but don’t see a single vision or leader in the group. And that doesn’t mean they don’t exist but I didn’t see it.

    Tell me if I’m wrong, but you write that by breaking down “white” rule and voting diversity we all win. I would agree if that breaking down involved people who were leaders and visionaries. Now time will tell if that does happen, but your writing doesn’t concern any of this. And so the country might sink, but you’re okay as long as the boat was made up of a diverse people, none of which who can actually save the ship.

    We have real issues coming up, very soon, and I have no confidence (yet) that this group who we just elected have the skills to solve them. Going back to what I said first, knowing what I know vision and leadership is like success, it truly is colorblind. The problem is I didn’t see it in this election and have yet to see it in this group we just elected.