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December 26, 2012

Obama re-election indicates just how
out dated the Republican Party has become

By Arthur Kane Scott

The Obama election was a watershed in American political history as it represented the dying gasp of a sociological constituency that history has passed. Their social makeup consists primarily of conservative, white male Republicans, who are to a large extent Evangelicals /Fundamentalists, or business/corporate types. Geographically they are to be found in the South or the Midwest. They belong mainly to the Boomer or Xers Generations, and have succumbed to an antiquated HUBRIS of racism /sexism/Exceptionalism which no longer reflects the American culture.

Racism and color were major ingredients in this presidential campaign, the elephant in the room, although subtly skirted by Romney and the Republicans. Barack Obama’s birth certificate, the “birther controversy”, was emblematic of the controversy. Donald Trump led the charge. He focused on it so as to raise doubt about Obama’s level of integrity and “Americanism”. Similarly peoples of color were noticeably absent in the alleged “great tent” of the Republican Party as revealed during their August Convention in Florida. The Republican absence of diversity must have came as a shock to Abraham Lincoln one of the founders of the “Grand Old Party”.   It was Lincoln who put America on the path of racial inclusionism with the Emancipation Decree in 1863 , and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment prior to his assassination. Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, Gays were barely present.  Nor was there any serious attempt by the Republican Party to reach out and respond to their needs. For example, no Republican rallied in support of the “Dream Act” which was at best a minimum Obama attempt to resolve the challenges that the children of 12 million undocumented workers face even though they pay taxes, perform invaluable labor without any viable social safety net. It is their labor that sustains America from picking vegetables to rebuilding cities like New Orleans after Katrina and now New York City/the Jersey Shore after Sandy. According to Pew research The Hispanic voting population will double by 2030. (Cf. http://www.pewhispanic.org/).

Then there is the women’s issue in which the Republicans time and time again put their foot in their mouths by displaying a terrible Patriarchy or ignorance about the fundamentals of human biology and reproductive processes. To argue that women are unable to conceive from rape is really quite mind boggling in the year 2012. Republicans also showed a terrible disrespect for women, a “Father Know Best” mentality, that they are incapable of taking ownership over their mind/body which flies in the face of the great socio-economic strides made by women in all fields, especially politics, by which 20 women were elected to the Senate and 77 in the House for a percentage of nearly 20 % in the presidential election of 2012 pointing to a “Madame President” which might be Hilary Clinton if she chooses to run in 2016. (Cf, http://ivn.us/2012/11/09/record-number-of-women-elected-in-congress-in-2012). ay. What drive the gender political sea change today are the shifting gender demographics in education. There are more women in Colleges/Universities, more in graduate/professional schools, pointing to a veritable cultural transformation as women respond and work differently than men. (Cf, http://www.pay-equity.org/PDFs/ProfWomen.pdf0). The women skill set emphasizes interpersonal communications, cooperation/collaboration, and analysis which are more appropriate to the information/technical/service needs of American and the global economy. (Cf. http://www.job-interview-site.com/best-careers-for-women-per-skill-sets-advantages.html). Given the growing presence of educated women graduates it is only a matter of time before even pay inequity and the glass ceiling at executive positions will crumble. (Cf, http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2012/03/09/cracking-glass-ceiling-women-finally-represent-10-boards). Hopefully the glass ceiling in the Republican Party too will change from its present day tokenism.

Another important demographic largely absent within the Republican Party consists of gays/lesbians/transvestites(GLBT) who are politically savvy; live in cities, are quite modern in outlook, well educated, and who over the last twenty-five years has become a powerful voice within the American cultural tapestry calling for marriage and civil equality with heterosexuals. The Republican Party view of marriage and the family however is time bound to an older WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) standard, which falls far short of the great diversity in relationships/families that has become part of the American landscape. Conservatives rally to DOMA, Defense of Marriage Act, based on selective Biblical verses, as a way to prevent gays from enjoying full civil liberties. The Supreme Court has agreed to take up the matter of gay marriage making it a national debate over “equal protection”. If the Robert’s Court this summer rules in favor of gay marriage  this would dramatically shift the status of the gay community by providing them with civil equality ending the special status enjoyed by heterosexual married couples. Such a ruling would symbolize another example of the Republican Party being out-of-step with the thrust of history. (Cf, http://www.people-press.org/2012/11/09/behind-gay-marriage-momentum-regional-gaps-persist/). Propelling gay inclusion comes from the Department of Defense’s decision to integrate gays into the military, and from the younger Xers and Millennials, who are in particular supportive of gay rights unlike their more traditional Boomer /Silent Generation parents, who constitute the bulk of the white male, dominated Republican Party. (Cf. http://www.pewresearch.org/2011/05/13/most-say-homosexuality-should-be-accepted-by-society/).

Young people, Millennials, too have been turned off by the Republican Party. Millennials, born from 1982-2002, are sometimes called the Y generation to distinguish them from the preceding Xers. They number about 90 million, were born during the time of the internet and globalization, and are very savvy with wireless technology and social networking. They tend to be less traditional in their religious beliefs, more concerned about the environment and community, tend to remain home longer  because of the recent economic meltdown, which has made them critical both of the machinations of Wall Street  and  of government. They embrace education (Cf.http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2012/11/05/0-high-school-and-college-completion-rates-continue-to-climb/). They are deeply worried about the rising costs of higher education as well as the cost of medical coverage embracing Obama care as it provides them at least with medical insurance until age 27. They too are strongly committed to social diversity in all forms, and unlike their Republican counterparts’ see social equity and the declining economic status of the Middle Class as significant priorities. These issues explain why the Millennials supported Obama in 2012 by 60 %.( Cf., http://www.statista.com/statistics/245884/voter-turnout-of-the-exit-polls-of-the-2012-elections-by-age/). What is so meaningful about this generation is that it’s just moving into adulthood, and as it does so it will become politically dominant for many decades propelled by social /economic inclusive philosophy light-years away from that of a much older white Tea Bagger Republican Right.

 The last sleeping dragon in the election was climate change. It represents a serious challenge to America and the world’s socio- economic future, but one in which industry and government have been dancing around despite Al Gore’s provocative Inconvenient Truth about the global dangers of carbon emissions on weather, sea levels and the polar caps.  The US, for instance, never signed the Kyoto Protocol, and its absence hurts the world effort to limit carbon emissions on the planet. Hurricane Sandy was a perfect storm that did incredible damage to New Jersey and New York amounting to $82 billions of dollars. It was a reminder that man during the industrial age has done horrible things to “Mother Earth.”  She is responding by unleashing a whirlwind of storms, intense hurricanes, droughts and tornados that could dramatically reshape the global landscape leading to the disappearance of coastal cities, shifts in population, with concomitant losses in animal species, flora/fauna. Ironically the Republicans, the “Party of No”, ignore the science regarding climate change. (Cf., http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/04/nyregion/most-new-yorkers-tie-hurricane-sandy-to-climate-change-poll-finds.html?_r=0). The Arctic meltdown is shifting the intensity and direction of the jet stream, making it wavier and larger, accounting for these extreme weather events. (Cf., http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/earth/climate-change-sandy.html). The science of climate change is pretty irrefutable, but the Republicans and their corporate allies still challenge the findings because of religious biases, or because of the need for corporate profits. But even Big Oil has recently acknowledged the long term effects of uncontrolled carbon emissions. (Cf., http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/01/oil-companies-actually-planning-climate-change/). Most Americans, not Republicans, recognize the seriousness of climate change. (Cf., http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/14/climate-change-poll_n_2298231.html).

In conclusion, the Obama presidential landslide indicates just how out dated the Republican Party has become. Its WASP paradigm of belief is an albatross that prevents it from embracing the new inclusive America that is being born - one that is racially blended, sexually and gender tolerant, grounded in socio-economic equality, committed to revitalizing the Middle Class, and providing educational opportunity for all and   which sees climate as a real threat to modern societies. The Republican Party, on the other hand, is on the brink of extinction unless it can radically alter its message and its composition. It reminds one of the “Know Nothing Party” or the “Klu Klux Klan”. Each had short although meteoric ascents because they appealed to the extremes rather than the middle where the genius of the American experiment lies. America is a country of moderation calling upon its leaders to work from the center and to find compromise. When parties ignore this fundamental value of America politics they like the “Know Nothing” and “KKK” fade into the dust pin of history. As John Donne so eloquently put: “Ask not for whom the bells toll. It tolls for you.”

Arthur Kane Scott is Professor of Humanities and Cultural Studies at the Dominican University of California and Fellow of American Institute of International Studies