Thursday, November 06, 2014

Election afterthoughts

So I read a lot of pundits today and I learned very little.

Click to enlarge.
Yes -- turnout was very low and the electorate skewed old. Because the Boomer demographic bulge is moving into the over 65 category, we can expect that segment to get somewhat larger than in past elections. But on Tuesday this, the most white, segment of the electorate was seriously disproportionally represented and called the tune. In 2012, young voters more nearly equaled the proportion of elders; this time the young were one third as large a fraction of the whole. And those older voters don't like Democrats in power or even their own kids.
... what this represents is a backlash against a change that is coming anyway – a vote by the older generation against the America that the younger generation seems to represent and want. Or a rising up of white America against the browns and blacks.
Communities of color still voted for Dems, but this election showed some weaknesses among those supportive constituencies that may point to greater future problems than the normal low midterm election turnout.
Even among African-Americans, the target of highly visible voter suppression measures, the GOP percentage increased from 6% in 2012 to 10% in 2014. Among Latinos, the GOP vote share jumped from 27% to 35%. And most startling of all, among Asian-Americans Republicans improved from 26% in 2012 to 49% in 2014. Add all these numbers up, and they begin to matter.
Republicans have been allowing their high profile bigots to drive off any people of color who might be be attracted to rapacious "free market" policies. They elected some new prize specimens yesterday; think Ernst of Iowa and Cotton of Arkansas. But even numerically small moves toward the GOP threaten the Democratic coalition.

I didn't need anyone to tell me why so many of us are in a "throw the bums out" mode: we are assured that we are in an "economic recovery," but somehow our prospects and those of our young people feel as if they've gotten worse, not better, since we elected a Democratic president in 2008. And we are not deceived. No one except the plutocrats is really doing well.

This is not particularly President Obama's fault; it is not even entirely the Democratic Party's fault, though the one percent certainly have their Dem accomplices. Republicans have done everything they could to ensure that the government failed to give people an economic leg up. But this underlying, appropriate, sense that people have been fooled sure made it easy for the billionaires to channel popular discontent against a leader for whom many citizens harbor racial disdain.
How dissatisfied was the electorate? According to the national exit poll, fifty-nine per cent of voters said that they were angry or disappointed with the Obama Administration. Seven in ten said that the economy is in bad shape, and just one in three said it is improving. Sixty-five per cent of respondents said that the country was seriously off-track. That last figure is twelve points higher than the equivalent finding in the exit poll taken during the 2012 Presidential election.
We're a very unhappy (very rich, very privileged) country and on Tuesday Republicans and billionaires took advantage. So there we are.

It doesn't have to be this way. But getting better results from our democracy is going to take work.


Rain Trueax said...

It's too bad we don't have a fine for not voting as I have read that Australia does. But since Repubs like to not have people vote, that won't happen. I was listening to results on the radio here in Arizona and it said only 37% voted. And that is probably of the registered voters. It's disgusting to me that anybody doesn't.

The irritating part is that the economy is booming. You can see that everywhere with construction and especially trucking. The freeway is full of trucking (which should a lot of it be on railroads but that's another issue). What hasn't gone up are wages and the voters just put in a bunch who block any minimum wage increase to make it have meaning. They work against unions who are mostly why wages for the middle were ever up. Even more ironic many of those states did vote to bump the minimum wage while they voted in senators who will do all they can to make it meaningless or even end it.

I feel like those who don't vote get what they deserve but those of us who not only voted but donated to candidates we support, we didn't deserve to see this low turnout. But we also didn't deserve to see such poor candidates and many of them were or ran lousy campaigns. They ran away from Obama and their record as progressives. Merkley, who did win in Oregon, and who we supported, ran as a progressive and won. Of course, that was Oregon but the ones who tried to pretend they weren't really dems, they would have been losers for any cause liberals support even if they had won!

janinsanfran said...

Merkley seems to be a star!

Having just driven, literally, around the country, I wouldn't quite describe the economy as booming, though there certainly are some thriving pockets. But all that wealth being created doesn't reach the people who are making it possible, who are working. No wonder people are pissed.

Rain Trueax said...

We only saw Oregon, northern California, Nevada and Arizona but it's all very busy with lots of construction in business districts and big trucks taking up the highway. The profits are not trickling down which shows the lie of the right from Reagan. It is though not because of Obama who people evidently blame.

The irony is the people voted in those who will make inequality worse. Just reading about Joni Ernst and her positions makes me wonder who the heck live in Iowa. :(

janinsanfran said...

We passed through Iowa. That was the place where the minimum wage remains $7.25 and restaurants are asking charity help for their workers. Hmmm ...

Hattie said...

Somehow Democrats fell off the horse. It isn't just the attacks from the right, onerous though they have been. They failed to send a clear strong message to Americans about equality, women's reproductive rights, and climate change. And they never expressed solidarity with the President on these issues and the need to come up with good solutions to our many social problems but instead ran away from association with him.
Also, both on the left and the right there is opposition to government spying and our continued military adventures. None of this was seriously addressed by any candidate, as far as I know.
And our love affair with the automobile is killing us. No solutions offered from any quarter on that one, or our continued overconsumption of fossil fuels.