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Identity politics: or why demographic sticker shock is no excuse.

I really wasn’t going to write about the election. It’s been covered quite well elsewhere already. I think Dan Hodges’ piece on the subject in The Telegraph nails it:

For years the GOP has been sitting on a ticking demographic time bomb. And this was the election it finally detonated. The Democrats already went into the 2012 campaign with a lock on big electoral vote states like California, Pennsylvania and New York. On current trends they will soon be able to add states like Florida, Virginia, Colorado and Arizona to that list. At that point the Democrats will not just be the natural party of government, they will be the party, period.

I’m not sure Republicans realise the scale of the mess they’re in. During my fascinating debate with Tim Stanley on Monday he talked to me about what he saw as the Democrats’ liberal extremism. But as I tried to explain to him, in 2012 progressive views on race, homosexuality and women’s rights aren’t representative of a liberal viewpoint any more than opposition to sending children down chimneys or opposition to the ducking of suspected witches is a liberal viewpoint. It is the settled worldview of a modern social democracy, and the Republicans’ need to rage against it makes them effectively unelectable.

What this means is that, in some ways, Bill O’Reilly is right: it’s not a “traditional” America any more. More accurately, the United States no longer looks or behaves in the way that O’Reilly and all the white folks crying real actual tears about Romney’s loss thinks it once did. Learning that the US no longer resembles a Norman Rockwell painting can cause some serious, Howard Beale-style meltdowns on cable and equally serious but sadly predictable ranting among more obscure personalities. It’s understandable. These people are going through demographic sticker shock. They have opened up their party’s collective bill for text messaging and data use, and until this moment had no sense of the debt they’d racked up. And now they’re whining about the cultural equivalent of hidden fees.

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN,” they’re saying, “IT COSTS US VOTES TO RANT ABOUT RAPE?

Yes. Yes, it does. You don’t get to talk about 47% of the electorate being parasites, and not pay the piper. You don’t get to refer to the single female demographic as “the slut vote”, and then expect some level of success with them. Those things have a cost. It’s pretty basic, and you all would understand it if you had any grasp of causality whatsoever. To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction: or the forces of two bodies on each other are always equal and are directed in opposite directions. It’s not that hard.

And yes, I know I’m being mean. I know I’m condescending to you. But you know what? You deserve it. Not to get too Ayn Rand here, but you lost this game because you suck at it. Not because it was rigged, or because everyone else is a moral failure, or because they were duped. It happened because you’re not good enough. You spent this election ranting about how some girls rape easy, and promising to repeal the healthcare reform that keeps families from bankrupting themselves on cancer treatment, and not doing basic math. That’s not campaigning. That’s sucking. Hard. You folks could take the chrome off a trailer hitch.

But you know what? Losing is not such a big deal. This is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for you, the GOP, to have a real conversation about how “traditional” America was a myth from the very beginning. (Talk to the Irish and the Italians about that. Or maybe just re-read the inscription on the Statue of Liberty. It mentions tired, poor, and huddled masses, not “straight white Christians only.”) Or talk about how the demographics have been changing for quite some time now — how, in fact, they’ve been evolving since the country’s founding.  Or about how, for a party that touts its business credentials, you appear to have forgotten the most basic principle of business: know your customer. So go ahead, have that conversation. Condoleeza Rice has helpfully started it for you. Then investigate the work of a real forward-thinking Mormon, Clayton Christensen. You know, the guy who wrote the book on disruptive innovation. And do so quickly. Why? Because right now, this is your base:

That’s the Confederacy, in red. Those are your most reliable constituents. The voters who hate Obama most hail from states that once fought and died for the right to buy, sell, rape, and beat black people. That’s your brand. Pardon the pun.

And this is also your brand:

My father defriended me on Facebook and told me that he never wants to speak to me again because I voted for Obama. He also said I’m a “fucking idiot” and that I’m the reason why this country is going down the toilet. Just to be clear, this was not in response to any argument or conversation, it’s just a fun thing I woke up to the morning after the election.

If the GOP wants to distinguish itself as a group of adults with a shared platform and perspective that has more to do with policy than racism, then maybe petty Facebook cyberbullying — you know, like in an after-school special? — shouldn’t be common practise among its voters. Maybe you should teach them some manners. Or some parenting skills. Because it’s bad enough that you’re the pro-rape party: now you’re the party that disowns its children for exercising their rights in a democracy. Think about that. Think long and hard about who you really are. Because Tuesday’s results — all of them, from marriage equality to the arrival of bisexual atheists and Asian-Americans to the House — are all about identity politics, including yours.

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4 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. David Kreutz

     /  November 9, 2012

    This is sad, but you might find it interesting as it relates to your above post:

    Mapping Racist Tweets in Response to President Obama’s Re-election
    http://www.floatingsheep.org/2012/11/mapping-racist-tweets-in-response-to.html

    Reply
  2. PixelFish

     /  November 17, 2012

    I was gonna say, it’s okay if the US looks like this Rockwell painting: http://humanistcontemplativeblog.blogspot.com/2011/03/golden-rule-day-april-5th.html

    Reply
  3. kladeger

     /  December 3, 2012

    Cheap Rand reference, disingenuous criticism. Good to know you feel exactly the way the powers that be want democrats to feel.

    Reply

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  • Madeline Ashby…

    ...is a science fiction writer, strategic foresight consultant, anime fan, and immigrant. She is represented by Anne McDermid & Associates, and IAM Sports & Entertainment. She has been a guest on TVO's The Agenda multiple times. Her novels are published by Angry Robot Books. Her fiction has appeared in Nature, FLURB, Tesseracts, Imaginarium, and Escape Pod. Her essays and criticism have appeared at BoingBoing, io9, WorldChanging, Creators Project, Arcfinity, and Tor.com.
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