Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Real America

A recent talking point from the McCain campaign -- especially the Palin half, but including many surrogates -- has been the emphasis on "real" America. Apparently, you cannot be a real American if you live in a city (did you know that 10% of all Americans live in either the LA or NY Metro region?), and while it haven't heard this directly stated, I'm 99% percent sure that one cannot be a real American if you've spent any amount of time at Harvard (or MIT or Hamilton, but probably not enough real Americans have heard of those places, so they are a poor identification tool). Clearly, I'm out.

I don't want to dissect what a stupid talking point this is from a demographic, governance, or common sense standpoint, but rather, how stupid is this from either a short-term or long-term political perspective? Though never said, "real" America means white America. Everyone knows this, the white people who are hearing it at Palin's rallies, and the non-white people who aren't at Palin's rallies and hear about it in the news. Is the Republican party really going to further alienate "minority" voters? I put minority in quotes because we are not all that far off from having an electorate that is majority-minority. Currently, whites make up 68% of all Americans, and that number continues to go down (Pew predicts that by 2050 whites will be 47% of the country).

Case in point, Latino voters. They make up a big chunk of New Mexico, a state that McCain has long ago conceeded, and are more and more important in Colorado. When they hear Palin talk about real Americans, do you think they feel like they're part of that conversation?

I have no readily-available facts to back me up on this (although I'm sure that a few people reading will be able to do so), but political party identification seems like something that doesn't change very much over the course of an individual's lifetime. Right now, minority voters of all ethnicities, are flocking to the Democratic party and are quite likely to stay there for a very long time. As their share of the electorate goes up, the situation only bleakens (is that a word?) for the GOP. Now, they could attempt to stem the tide, mitigate their losses, etc., but rather it seems like they're holding a losing hand and going all-in anyway.

Random thought, that I'll do a little research on.... solely from the two criteria I noted above that favor Democrats -- city-dwellers and minorities -- doesn't it seem like Texas could start to turn blue eventually? Yes, I'm 99% dubious of this, and perhaps my characterization of Texas demographics are way off, but I'll look into it anyway...