Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Real Real America

Non-Democrats or non-independents who lean Democrats might have missed this, but in the last several years phrases like "real American" and "real Virginian" seem to have been getting a lot more common. Not the first time that sort of sentiment has cropped up in this country, obviously - and it won't be the last. But there has been a definite circling of the wagons around an imagined American norm that's been frustrating.

I think Paul Krugman is right here that that is starting to fall apart. I disagree with the title somewhat (I think it's best to just abandon "real" as a divider of any sort). But his message is right on. He writes:

"OK, somewhat more seriously: one big thing that just happened was that the real America trumped the “real America”. And it’s also the election that lets us ask, finally, “Who cares what’s the matter with Kansas?”

For a long time, right-wingers — and some pundits — have peddled the notion that the “real America”, all that really counted, was the land of non-urban white people, to which both parties must abase themselves. Meanwhile, the actual electorate was getting racially and ethnically diverse, and increasingly tolerant too. The 2008 Obama coalition wasn’t a fluke; it was the country we are becoming.

And sure enough that more diverse and, if you ask me, better nation just won big.

Notice too that to the extent that social issues played in this election, they played in favor of Democrats. Gods, guns, and gays didn’t swing voters into supporting corporate interests; instead, human dignity for women swung votes the other way.

A huge night for truth, justice, and the real American way."

I don't want to see Democratic domination for the forseeable future. I want to see a Republican party that adjusts to this and that becomes viable again. I think I - like anyone whose politically formative years came under Bush - am going to have a hard time moving into such a party regardless, but if such a transition does occur you might even see me voting Republican in the future (that hasn't happened since John Warner was in the Senate).

And speaking of Warners... I know Clinton is going to be a serious contender, but is it too early to start thinking about Mark Warner in 2016?


  1. The Republicans still hold the House of Representatives. This was frankly a status quo election. And frankly every four to two years we're supposed to get some grand narrative explanation about the election and that's been the case since at least 1998. There isn't any indication that times have stopped being interesting yet.

    1. Hmmm... I think you are reading more into this claim than I am.

      Certain demographic shifts are real: majority-minority, the cohort-dependence of issues like gay rights and marijuana. Pointing out the freight-train nature of those sorts of things is valid. I don't think anyone is trying to say "times have stopped being interesting" or that there's some kind of "grand narrative explanation".

      We have a few options besides not making any observations and only making grand narratives, I think!


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