The President does not want my vote. This is a very strange fact. Stranger still is the accompanying realization that an ideal America, where the Cosbys live next door to the Cleavers in Mayberry, may no longer be an ideal to which we all aspire.
Mr. Obama would not necessarily object to my vote, but he is not actively seeking my vote – in any way. My life is remarkably generic in the American tradition. I have a house, a wife, two kids, a good steady job, I attend Church weekly, am active in my community, and planning for the future. To have that profile and yet be politically ignored is strange. To understand that our national leader rejects that profile is nothing short of extraordinary.
The Obama campaign believes it can win with what it calls the “coalition of the ascendant.” The Democrat team plans to conduct what may be the greatest slash-and-burn campaign in history, certainly setting record highs for spending on negative ads – records they set in 2008. The stated goal is to win an election by dividing a nation.
As one Obama campaign leader told New York Magazine, the President will argue that, “he [Romney] is backward, and we are forward—that’s the basic construct. If you’re a woman, you’re Hispanic, you’re young, or you’ve gotten left out, [we want you to] look at Romney and say, ‘This fucking guy is gonna take us back to the way it always was, and guess what? I’ve never been part of that.’ ” To that mix the campaign expects to add the very well-educated, high earning, urban, liberal, secular, white voter.
Thus “hope and change” give way to fear and division. The actual policies of the 2008 campaign – designed to appeal to the minorities, the urban, the young and unmarried – are not actually changing. That is the coalition that elected Obama to the White House. But, all of that was cloaked in the mantle of inclusive, post-partisan, post-racial, tripe. Folks of my demography were not the main targets, but pains were taken to ensure we were not scared away. Not so this time.
Obama has ceded the white working class, the suburban church-going nuclear families, and all rural residents (yes, the “bitter clingers”). These groups – according to the campaign narrative – are history, or in other words, “backward.” This is absolutely unique in American history and should be recognized as such.
The Obama camp is correct in noting that the demographics of America are changing. We have long been a polyglot nation, but our ethnic make-ups are spread out over a much broader spectrum. This is fine, and to my mind, a good thing. Obama’s coalition of the ascendant may or may not be a winning strategy, but its unapologetic embrace is certainly something different.
First let me be perfectly clear. Race, religion, or region, do not interest me in the least. Prevalent among Obama’s desired coalition, there are three traits that cut across the lines of race and creed. These traits concern me, as I believe they would have concerned Jefferson, Lincoln, and Martin Luther King Jr.
Again, color of complexion aside, Obama’s coalition has much lower rates of homeownership. It also has a much smaller portion of married households. Finally, Obama’s coalition features low income persons and very high earners – not people in the broad middle.
My point is thus, America, since inception, has sought to be a one-size-fits-all kind of place. Maybe that size did not actually suit all people, but it was a mold that the great majorities, popular sensibilities, and major political parties, held in regard. Specifically, America held the mean as the ideal. That mean has throughout much of the past century been represented by a middle-class married family of four living in a modest home in a not particularly interesting community. Both political parties long sought to make this middle-America ideal the norm for all people regardless of race or language of birth.
I am not saying that people outside this “middle” are somehow less worthy of emulation. Not at all. Our cities have been vibrant proving grounds for poor immigrants, intellectual elites, and a boisterous olio of new ideas and innovations. Despite that, America has highly esteemed the freedom and equality inherent in her small towns and ordinary homes of close families and stable communities.
Now our President is looking to divide people, for once favoring the chaotic and untested, while disdaining the tried and true. Ignoring the grand middle may even prove to be politically sound. Yet because it is so radically different than what previous generations have done, I assert it worthy of a frank discussion – not a partisan volleying of talking points and smears – but a genuine debate about ideals of the republic.
Mr. Obama promised “change” and is bent on delivering that change. Let us acknowledge that this change is a radical departure, evaluate whether or not it is something we want, and understand what the costs of that change may be. Perhaps I should be grateful that Team Obama seems willing to have this debate openly, without masquerading it behind a shroud of inclusiveness.