Friday, November 9, 2012
Victimology Follies: Mitt Romney's Loss and the "Demographic Winter" of White People
Maybe white conservative voters should have mass orgies where no one wears a condom? Would this guarantee victory in the future?
There are many theories about why Mitt Romney lost on Tuesday.
Some smart folks are talking about the importance of the Democrats' superior ability to microtarget voters, how Obama flipped retrospective voters to evaluate the economy in terms favorable to him, and how efforts at shrinking the electorate through voter suppression actually hurt the Tea Party GOP.
Other smart people are engaging in some real talk as they call out the Republican Party's belief in magic and lies. As I suggested here, the Tea Party GOP is a cult where political orthodoxy serves as a religion. Faith--what is a belief in things that cannot be proved through normal means, appeals to science, or empiricism--has damaged the Right's ability to reason about political reality.
The implications of this dynamic are worrisome: Mitt Romney's defeat, and the Tea Party GOP's surprise at that fact, is a symptom of mass psychosis.
The easy money, what is a sexy story that puts butts in the seats, is being devoted to the puzzle of white voters and how demographic changes have doomed the Republican Party to obsolescence. By comparison, I would suggest that all of the energy that is being spent on figuring out the "white problem" in America's electoral politics is very premature, and tinged by a lack of historical context.
The decline of White America thesis, and what changing demographics will mean for the country's politics and future, is an old and tired trope that has been around since (at least) the end of the Civil War. The befuddlement by the Right-wing media and political establishment in response to their thorough thrashing by President Obama and his coalition of women, young people, and people of color, is focused on how to bring more brown people into the Republican Party.
Here, there is no real interest in altering issue positions to appeal to a broader base; no, the Right is ironically deploying a strategy of political black and brown face quota theater (what they accuse liberals and the Left of doing) where people of color will instinctively come over to the Right because of racial kinship and affinity.
Implicit in their complaining and dismay is a deep vein of white victimology. America is not "their country" anymore; this arrangement is unnatural and unfair. From the perspective of "imperiled," "normal," spoiled, and entitled Whiteness, a President who can win without a majority of white (male) voters does not have a real mandate for change.
The herrenvolk politics of conservative white male America are mirrored by the fears and worries of White Nationalists about the extinction of the "white race" and what their propagandists have termed "Demographic Winter."
The Republican Party is the United States' de facto White Political Party. Therefore, the Republican Party has a great deal of overlap with racist white people. All Republicans are not racists. However, racially resentful and bigoted white people are much more likely to be Republican and conservative. In all, if one were to draw a Venn diagram of both the Republican Party and White Nationalists, the overlap would be pretty significant.
I am unsure about how the responsible adults in the Republican Party will reclaim their organization and its proud and respectable history.
It is clear that the United States is mired in extreme political polarization. While there is all sorts of silly talk fan fiction about a "second civil war," (which is not going to happen) the more substantive and important concern is how do we rehabilitate the Republican Party so that it can act responsibly as one of the country's two institutional parties. I am also concerned about how the Tea Party GOP's extremism makes the Republican Party a fertile recruiting ground for White Nationalists.
As the "reality" of demographic change in America remains a talking point in the weeks to come, the narrative of white victimology and imperiled Whiteness will become even more common. This cannot be to the benefit of the Common Good. It will be a blessing for white racist organizations, Fox News, and bloviators like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly.
A national obsession over the obsolescence of White America in the Age of Obama cannot end well. To paraphrase Langston Hughes, what does Whiteness do when its dreams are deferred? Does it shrivel up? Or does it lash out?