November 07, 2012

White men lose to demographic change

Whites-only GOP meets its demographic destiny

The creaking noise you hear? It's the sound of conservative white men trying to fight off change--and failing

By Rich Benjamin
I have traveled this country extensively, before and during the election campaign, speaking to whites about their political values, most recently in various swing suburbs in Ohio the weekend before the vote. The vast majority of straight white men I encountered were reasonable, thoughtful voters. And here’s an irony: Much of the GOP—think Romney, Mourdock, Akin—cling to a political narrative according to which white male voters are “conservative” and “minority” voters are “liberal,” and where white male voters are self-sufficient and everyone else is dependent. It’s exactly this form of white-on-white racial profiling, a fear of the future, that produced the election’s outrageous comments about unions, the poor, rape, women, minorities and the like.

Why did conservative straight white men self-destruct so spectacularly this election? Perhaps because, in trying to secure the votes of other white men, they failed to notice that these white men have mothers, daughters, gay relatives and/or friends who are racial minorities; and that other white men are suffering economically; and that straight white men can also embody the country’s dramatic change? The cheap, divisive, nativistic, racialized ways that conservative leaders divvy up the electorate has now come to spook them. It’s a vicious loop: What this political narrative does is to fuel a further sense of embattlement and decline among disenfranchised straight white men.
And:Like whiteness itself, once stable, reliable institutions are perceived to be “broken”: the nuclear family, the classroom, the “border,” the economy and the very nature of work. Little wonder all the venom flew as conservative straight white male candidates flailed while facing a dramatically changing country and electorate.

And now the Republicans should realize it is their own party that is broken. The politics of alienation is not an agenda. If such politics cannot win during such a tenuous economic backdrop, it’s unlikely to ever again.
And:This election unfolded against this backdrop, what I call “The White People Deadline”: 2042. As this cultural “time bomb” ticks, fear mounts over a perceived loss of whites’ raw power—demographic, social, economic and political. So the debates raged on, including over women’s reproductive rights. Often racially coded, these contraceptive and abortion political clashes are a proxy debate for whites’ demographic viability. The political parties scrambled to consolidate their appeal to white voters even as they scramble to compensate for the decline of white voters. A new white upper class and a declining white lower class are diverging so vastly in core values and behaviors, writes Charles Murray in “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010,” that they “barely recognize their underlying American kinship.” Murray’s much-discussed tract essentially yokes a decline of social values and of “whiteness” to an entire demographic’s “failure” to cope with a challenging future.

Coming apart? That doesn’t just describe the widening gulf between the prospects of rich and poor whites. It describes the firewall straight white conservatives are trying to erect against the future. The hapless candidates railed away against their sense of decline, marching to defeat at the polls.

“The white establishment is the minority. People want things.” What things does O’Reilly, the rickety sage of straight white men, mean? Clean energy? Immigration reform? Reproductive rights? Forward-thinking healthcare? Marriage equality?

The lesson for conservatives isn’t to fight harder against the change. It is to surf it. The GOP not only failed to diversify its base; it needs to rethink its assumptions about straight white men in the first place.
America: Love it or be left behind

Obama can only do so much: Angry older whites have to decide if they want to secede from our multiracial future

By Joan Walsh
Republicans will not go gently into that bad night, and thus we are hearing a range of reality-denying reactions, some of them flat out crazy. We’ve seen Rove’s deranged explanation for his party’s shellacking by what John Judis and Ruy Teixiera identified a decade ago as “the emerging Democratic majority:” Obama suppressed the white vote, Rove insists, primarily by running a negative campaign against Romney (John Kerry would like a word with you, Boss Rove). Let’s walk through a few others:

Obama’s emerging Democratic majority consists of slackers and moochers who just want things.

“People feel that they are entitled to things and which candidate, between the two, is going to give them things?” Bill O’Reilly said during his Tuesday self-pity party. “The white establishment is now the minority….The demographics are changing. It’s not a traditional America anymore.” A majority of Americans, O’Reilly opined, “want stuff. And who is going to give them things? President Obama. He knows it, and he ran on it.”

The self-satirizing Ann Coulter declared “It’s over. There’s no hope if takers outnumber makers,” reprising the failed VP nominee Paul Ryan’s Ayn Randian depiction of the American divide. Rush Limbaugh declared, “I went to bed last night thinking we’re outnumbered. I went to bed last night thinking we’ve lost the country. I don’t know how else you look at this…Conservatism, in my humble opinion, did not lose last night. It’s just very difficult to beat Santa Claus,” continuing the theme of the Obama coalition going to the polls for handouts.

That “the white establishment” built the modern social welfare state (albeit mostly for white people) is lost on O’Reilly, Coulter, Limbaugh and their ilk. That whites make up the vast majority of “takers” is likewise lost on them. But not on uber conservatives like Charles Murray, or the National Review’s dyspeptic hater Mark Steyn. “The fact is a lot of pasty, Caucasian, non-immigrant Americans have also shifted,’ and are very comfortable with Big Government, entitlements, micro-regulation, Obamacare and all the rest—and not much concerned with how or if it’s paid for,” Steyn wrote Wednesday.

No doubt a lot of the “pasty” folks Steyn talked about voted for Mitt Romney, since the red states are the new welfare queens, sucking more from Big Government than they provide in taxes. Don’t expect white GOP voters to process that contradiction in the early stages of grief, however.

The emerging Democratic majority can’t provide Obama a mandate without more white voters.

It’s not only GOP hacks who are saying stupid things about the white vote. Two days before the election Politico’s Mike Allen and Jim VandeHai declared that Obama’s problem with whites might make it hard for him to be the president of all America. “It’s possible,” the pair intoned darkly, that Obama “will get a lower percentage of white voters than George W. Bush got of Hispanic voters in 2000″ (he didn’t). Then they lowered the boom:

“A broad mandate this is not.”

Really? Let’s review. Obama won 93 percent of African Americans, 71 percent of Latinos and an astonishing 75 percent of Asian Americans, a group that used to split between parties. He won a majority of Catholics, Jews and Muslims as well as the religiously non-affiliated (he only lost white Protestants.) He won women and young people. The only group he lost was white people, and particularly older white people and extremely particularly older white men.

Does Obama have really have a problem attracting broad support? Or would the problem belong to the stubborn minority bloc that won’t vote for him, no matter what he does? Do the math, lads.

Racism behind the vote

If you think this voting trend--white men for conservatives, everyone else for liberals, is some sort of demographic fluke, think again. It's fueled by the bigotry of white men who fear women, minorities, and gays for roughly the same reason. Namely, a loss of power, control, and manhood--which are basically the same thing to the men in charge.

Here's a smidgen of the voluminous evidence on conservative racism:

Obama and the Death of White Power

David Leonard looks at how the President's re-election is invigorating a new wave of bigotry

By David Leonard
The re-election of Barack Obama to the office of President of the United States prompted a wide range of hateful reactions. From tearful Romney supporters to enraged bigots, the prospects of an African American leading the nation for another four years sent many within White America into panic mode or what I like to call “WDD:” White Delusional Disorder.

Teenagers took to twitter to hurl racial slurs without concern for the blowback; college students at Ole Miss and Hampden-Sydney (among others) took to the streets to voice their anger. In displays of violence usually reserved for sports celebrations, or disgust over an early bar closing, White males made their prejudices clear, hurling racial epithets and rocks with little fear of consequence. As editor Jamilah Lemieux said of those on twitter “the fact that there are so many people willing to publicly express these views…is troubling.”

Predictably, much of the chatter has focused on individual reactions, imagining racism in terms of emotion, anger, and frustration. The media’s shock and awe is not surprising given its failure to shine a spotlight on the resurgent White nationalism since 2008 and persistent racial inequality in the United States. Worse yet, the media has consistently portrayed racism as extreme in nature--the extremely young, the extremely bigoted, the extremely Southern, the extremely uneducated, and the extremely low-class. But most of us know that it is more common than any newspaper may have you believe.

The anxieties, anger, and outrage weren’t so much about backlash against liberal values, but what Obama’s victory revealed about the nation. There was a clear, alarming message about demographic shifts and waning White male control. According to Keisha Bentley-Edwards, “The anger wasn't only about President Obama and his re-election. It was overall frustration at the emerging power of diverse people in this country.”
Clueless Racist Tweeters Reveal the Degraded State of Right-Wing Discourse

By David NeiwertAs Karoli and Blue Texan have been observing today, the fever swamps of the American Right are, predictably, coming completely unhinged over the re-election of President Obama. This is especially true the farther you move from right-wing pundits out to the conservative base--where the hatred of Obama is bubbling up a fresh heaping helping of steaming racism.

See, for instance, the gallery of racist tweets put together by Jezebel this week. Go ahead, spend a little time there. Then come on back, get a shower, and let's talk about it.

The leading states from which these tweets emanate are Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Dakota, and Utah. Now there's a big surprise.

What's shocking and disturbing about these tweets is just how many people out there reflexively and thoughtlessly indulge in outright and outrageous racism--and then express surprise that they're accused of being racists!

Indeed, the pervasiveness of this response indicates just how degraded Americans' understanding of racism has become--mainly because, whenever it raises its head now, the right-wing media shouts down and belittles anyone who calls it out. So now there are millions of people out there who think that there's nothing particularly racist about using racist slurs.
Like other conservatives, Bill O'Reilly wasn't just describing a demographic trend. He was admitting what I and others have been saying for years.

Namely, that "traditional" America means white men. That losing to Obama means white men are losing to women, minorities, and gays. That scares the bigots who think they're superior and deserve to rule. They hate Obama for robbing them of their "birthright."

For more on conservative racism, see Majority of Americans Are Racist and Conservative Admits Welfare-Bashing Is Racial.

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