Friday, October 2, 2015

Narrative vs. Trend, American Politics

What's going on in American politics right now?

I live in Dem-central. Worse still, I grew up during the Bush years, specifically the Iraq War, right when Jon Stewart hit his stride and grew into a Progressive media mogul. My generation signs on to practically every left-leaning cause. We'll even vote for a self-identified socialist.

Hell, my Brother-in-Law told me Bernie Sanders is a moderate guy, and the Koch Brothers bought Hillary Clinton. Do you see what I have to deal with every day? I live in the Progressive Narrative, built on top an aggressively policed Meme-plex where even slight deviations earn a shout-down from the "Microaggressions" Crew.

The Progressive Narrative, which dominates media, goes something like this: America has drifted right-ward since 1980. The Democrats are so far right that they might as well be a right-wing party in Europe, while the Republicans might as well be on Pluto.

And after this right-wing nightmare, the American Public elected Barrack Obama, and re-elected him, in huge margins. What's left on the Republican Right is mostly racism, religious zealotry, and Big Business.

Okay, okay, that's the narrative.

What's the actual trend?

Luckily, Gallup keeps some good data. First, I want to focus on the White Vote. The nation was demographically much whiter starting in the 1950s, so if there has been a dramatic shift to the Democrats, that should be plainly obvious in the share of the White vote going to Democrats.

What does the data say?

Obama: 43 Romney: 57

Hmmmm....Romney won non-Hispanic whites by a HUGE margin....When's the last time there was a margin that large?

Obama: 44 McCain: 56

Kerry: 43 Bush: 57

Wow. Wait. Romney won as much of the White vote as Bush. Where's this HUGE Democratic shift?

Gore: 42 (+2 Nader) Bush: 56

I mean, you might start assuming Republicans have a lock on this vote, but that's not entirely true.

Clinton: 46 Dole: 45

Carter: 46 Ford: 52

You can see here that the Democrats have under-performed in the White vote for a long time, only outright winning the vote in '64, when the Republicans ran Goldwater and lost practically every single state. Republicans rode a huge backlash of white voters into the White House and an apparently complete electoral dominance.

That hasn't shifted at all.

The actual political trend, at the electorate level, has been the "browning" of America. There's obviously been a huge shift in national demographics, that has enabled Democrats to return to a majority position in government.

This is not only due to general population increase, but also an increase in turnout. The Dems have vastly increased voter turn-out among some of their key groups, particularly African-Americans. This, more than sheer vote numbers, has enabled a decisive return to the White House. Mobilizing the base always has been a major problem for Democrats, who usually have to turn out depressed, marginalized groups that just don't care much.

There's no left-ward shift. There is a change in national character, but that's because of the addition of a lot of Democratic-leaning groups, plus a lot more angry, passionate Democrats voting at the polls.

That's an important distinction. We have some historically marginalized groups that are coming to the table, seeking their place and demanding what they feel is their due, and that usually portends disruption more than unity.

The second, lesser discussed feature is that, while the White Vote has stayed the same overall, White Voters have switched party.

Take Kim Davis. She's a lifelong Democrat, believe it or not. But the Culture Wars have finally pushed her out of the Cosmopolitan Democratic Camp and into the Republican Camp.

Then take, say, Arlen Spector, who wanted to raise taxes and got driven out of the Republican Party.

The old parties were more collections of regional interests, but these days the Republicans and Democrats more closely mirror ideological groups. Both are becoming "purer." But this means both parties are becoming....well...crazier?

The Republicans unseated Boehner. True. But on the Democratic Side, look at the "insurgency" candidates. We've gone from Joseph Lieberman to Howard Dean to Barrack Obama to Bernie Sanders. At this rate, we might have Vladimir Lenin on the Democratic ticket in 2020.

That actually concerns me more than the ethnic diversity, which I know a lot of others are more worried with. The Democratic Party has grown INSANE. They were pretty "reasonable" back in the 60s, and still had a lot of crazy economics and social policy that directly created the economic disaster of the 1970s. That, more than anything else, solidifed the Reagan Revolution.

There was an internal pendulum, so to speak.

Now? All bets are off. The Democratic Party has grown a lot crazier, but they have some pretty strong demographic tailwinds. So there's no natural check on how crazy they are.

That's the trend I see, and that's why I think these next few decades might be quite interesting.

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