October 09, 2008

It's the economy, stupid

Why do Indians and other minorities tend to vote Democratic? We're seeing the evidence in the media today. Democrats think the most important issue is the economy--which affects poor minorities disproportionately. Republicans think the most important issue is Barack Obama's "association" with Weather Underground co-founder William Ayers as an 8-year-old.

We've seen this pattern over and over in elections. Republicans promise us they'll smoke out the terrorists wherever they are or aren't: in Iraq, in France, under your bed. They'll keep gays from marching into your towns and homes and marrying you against your will. They'll make sure no secularist humanist dares to take down the Ten Commandments or say "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas."

Minorities aren't concerned about protecting the privileges of white Christian America from gays, blacks, Jews, Muslims, and other dubious Americans. They're not afraid of a more tolerant, inclusive, multicultural America. They are a more tolerant, inclusive, multicultural America, so they aren't afraid of voting for people like themselves.

Blame the Republicans

In other words, minorities aren't blinded by their xenophobic fears. They tend to vote for bottom-line issues that affect the pocketbook. Improving the economy--not banning pornography, birth control, or stem-cell research--is the best way to help all Americans, including themselves.

While white Americans are cowering in fear of Jeremiah Wright, Harvey Fierstein, and some cab driver in Guantánamo Bay, Indians are looking at the facts. Facts such as who has a historic record of managing our money better. And who's responsible for most of our economic downturns:

2008 recession:  GW Bush (R)
2001-2003:  GW Bush (R)
1990-1991:  GHW Bush (R)
1980-1982:  Reagan (R)
1973-1975:  Nixon/Ford (R)
1957-1958:  Eisenhower (R)

Summing it up, Indians and other minorities tend to vote Democratic because it's the smart, sensible thing to do. Apparently most non-white Americans are more rational and intelligent than most white Americans.

For more on the subject, see An Open Letter to White Voters, or What McCain Really Thinks of You in Racialicious.


dmarks said...

There's a better chart than this one, which is misleading. Clinton never ran a budget surplus: the national debt increased about $1.6 trillion during the Clinton years, and it never went down during any one of those years.

As for some of the specifics, you claim Republicans "They'll keep gays from marching into your towns and homes and marrying you against your will". This also leaves out Democrats. The most significant anti-gay marriage act was when Bill Clinton signed the "DOMA". Obama and Biden are both very much against it also.

Rob said...

The chart may refer to public debt, not total debt. Or whatever the distinction was that we discussed via e-mail. That would make it misleading, perhaps, but not inaccurate.

Since it comes from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, I don't feel any need to stop using it. Unless the CBO has repudiated its own figures, I presume the chart accurately reflects something. But if you have a better graphic, send it to me.

Biden's opposition to gay marriage sounded mild to me in the VP debate. I suspect he and Obama oppose gay marriage because it's still politically dangerous to support it. I suspect that's true of many Democrats and even some Republicans.

But there's a huge difference between opposing gay marriage while supporting same-sex civil unions and claiming gay marriage will lead to the ruination of Western civilization. That's what I was referring to with that line.

Conservatives fear gay marriage and use that fear to stoke prejudice against gays (and the people who support them). Liberals merely think gay marriage isn't politically feasible at this time. When today's young generation becomes the majority, liberals will support gay marriage.

P.S. I support gay marriage, of course, because there's no logical reason to oppose it. And because I'm ahead of my time. ;-)

dmarks said...

I watched the debate also. Biden was mild overall. Whatever the reason, they oppose it, and Biden opposed it enough to make sure he mentioned it in the debate. "But there's a huge difference..." is not really true when the fact is that both oppose it. Whether or not one of the sides that opposes it says it will ruin Western civilization or not.

" I suspect he and Obama oppose gay marriage because it's still politically dangerous to support it."

Somehow that makes them look like spineless poll-watchers, not leaders. I suspect you agree some with that assessment.

Anonymous said...

Hi - I came over from racialicious (and got there from feministing); my brain is otherwise too fried to say anything of substance than - thanks for the post.

Rob said...

Welcome, Aerin!

Sure it's true, DMarks. Being mildly opposed to gay marriage is a lot different from being strongly opposed. If you're mildly opposed, you may appoint judges or other officials who approve of gay marriage. You support the whole range of rights that go with same-sex civil unions. And there's a chance you'll change your mind eventually--especially when you're no longer running for office.

But the point of my comment was how the two sides use gay marriage as a wedge issue with voters. Liberals who (mildly) oppose gay marriage aren't running fear-based campaigns against gays. Conservatives who strongly oppose gay marriage are. There's your huge difference for you.

Everyone knows that politicians have to calibrate their positions when they run for office. That means downplaying or ignoring such hot-button issues as gay marriage, abortion, and gun control. It means focusing on a few broad issues you consider crucial--e.g., the economy, health care, energy.

You could say such politicians are being spineless, weaselly, or insincere, but that's how the game is played. You accept the lesser evil (obscuring your views) to avoid the greater evil (losing the election). As far as Democrats are concerned, the greatest (internal) danger to this nation is another George Bush, not someone who may or may not support gay marriage.

Of course, I wouldn't like being a calculating politician. I enjoy saying what I mean and meaning what I say too much. So I'll stick to telling people what to do and letting them do it. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Some of your generalizations about minority voters are a bit too sweeping. I'm Canadian and I know that a lot of immigrant-Canadian voters vote conservative because their social values are more aligned with those of the Conservative Party. The fact is that many countries around the world are not as socially progressive as Canada (maybe even the US in some respects), and older voters especially side with the more socially conservative party.

Anonymous said...

You are right on in this post. The conservatives have driven minorities and Indian-Americans (like myself) forever from the Republican party. Why the hell do I want to help you take away rights from other minorities. Why would i want to help you tell me my religion has no place in American while I should help you put your religion everywhere. Conservatives are too worried about making their lives better to the detriment of making everyone elses's lives worse. Thats why I an Indian American and all the Indian Americans I know have voted and continue to vote democrat.

Rob said...

A poll estimated that 89% of Natives would vote for Obama. Meanwhile, the actual demographic breakdown of the presidential vote is below.

Clearly blacks, Natives, Jews, Hispanics, and people under 30 are the most intelligent voters. They understood that this election was about the economy, not William Ayers or Joe the Plumber.


95% of black voters went to the ballot for Obama and only 4% for McCain.

55% of white votes went to McCain including the notoriously hard-to-win white working class vote, but Obama stunned many by taking an impressive 43% of total white votes, cutting the Republican lead compared with 2004.

66% of Hispanic voters turned out for Obama--the best ever result for a Democrat.

56% of the female vote went to Obama, exceeding the usual Democrat advantage.

The male vote was essentially tied with 49% voting for Obama, thus evening the score on the male-heavy Republican advantage in 2004.

66% of under-30s showed their support for Obama--far higher than in any previous election--compared to 31% for McCain.

Nearly 25 per cent of U.S. adults--about 30 million--are Catholic and 54 per cent of them voted for pro-abortion Obama as opposed to 46 per cent for McCain.

63% of Asian voters went to the ballot for Obama and 34% for McCain.

78% of the Jewish vote went to Obama.