The reason why the incumbent succeeded has nothing to do with red and blue issues, but rather, the growing gap between “Green” and “Grey” America
As soon as Mitt Romney conceded that fateful Tuesday evening, GOP strategists across America scrambled to pinpoint excuses as to why the Republican candidate failed to unseat incumbent Barack Obama. And in hindsight - glorious, glorious hindsight - they managed to figure out what the rest of the planet had deduced several months earlier.
Now, I’m no political scientist, but maybe, just maybe, Mitt Romney saying that a good half of the country “didn’t matter” was detrimental to his campaign. I think it wasn’t until AFTER the election that Republican campaigners realized that not only was “47 percent” a pretty big number, but for the most part, a majority of those within said population had the ability, the capacity, and - much to the surprise of conservatives - the motivation to roll out of their public housing and cast a ballot come Election Day. And by golly, all of those welfare-users and food-stampers and non-tax-payers decided to vote for the guy that, shockingly, didn’t call them a bunch of “welfare-users,” “food-stampers” and “non-tax-payers.”
Looking at the statistics, it’s pretty much apparent why Romney lost. You see, the Romney campaign used this old strategy called the “Well, Whitey Will Vote For Me!” approach, and as turns out, heterosexual, happily wed-with-children, land-owning males, preferably middle-aged, AREN’T the only inhabitants of these United States.
Looking at the empirical data, a majority of Caucasian males may have voted for the Mittster, but apparently, Charlie Caucasian ain’t the election-deciding, state-swinging, hegemonic force of nature he used to be.
So, who ended up voting for the other guy, you may ask? Well, I guess it’s not surprising that a good nine out of ten African-Americans cast their vote for the now two-term President, but clearly, it had to have been a SHOCK to the GOP strategists that the Hispanic vote went to Obama - a guy that’s tried to assemble an immigration reform package for the last four years - as opposed to a dude who represented a party that’s been trying to literally throw them out of the country since 1986. Along those same lines, most Asian voters sided with Obama - since, apparently, those same immigration measures would benefit them and their MIT-ready by the eighth grade children. In a year that’s seen numerous Republican candidates try to expound upon the moral latitudes of rape, maybe it shouldn’t have been all that surprising that a majority of women - across pretty much all racial and ethnic demographics - choose Obama over Romney.
Clearly, a number of racial, ethnic and gender issues all played mighty big parts in why Romney lost, but if you really want to dissect why the Republicans took a dump and died at the ballot box, you’re going to have to look at something a little less understated by analysts and pundits.
In essence? You’re going to have to figure out if candidates are “Green” or “Grey,” not “Blue” or “Red.”
You may be wondering what the heck I’m talking about here, so give me ample time to elucidate.
When I say “green,” I’m not referring to Ralph Nader’s horribly orchestrated lampoon of a political party, nor am I referencing a bunch of bean sprout eating environmentalist nut-jobs. In this sense, I’m actually talking about the members of rural America - i.e., those that do not live in large urban accumulations - as a totalized voting bloc.
You see, the inhabitants of rural America - you know, the half of the country that doesn’t live in metropolises or urban spill over sites - tend to have different value sets than those that live in urban and quasi-urban environments (and there will be much more on that demographics later on, dear reader.)
By and large, rural Americans - and to some extent, a sizable portion of those that live in suburban areas - are dependable Republican voters. For the most part, rural and suburban folks are Caucasian, some flavor of Christian (more times than not, evangelical ones on top of that), and heterosexual (or at least, that’s what they tell their wives before embarking upon those mysterious “all weekend fly fishing trips,” anyway.) The socioeconomics run the gamut from very, very wealthy to very, very poor, but for the most part, the “values” of these people are identical: owning a home (and private property) is good, being married is really good, and having children is super-mega-duper good.
As far as age ranges go, it’s an across-the-board deal here, but for the most part, it’s a population that’s skewed a bit towards older individuals. As a peoples, their concerns are mostly centered on individualistic needs - that is, what is good for me and my family is great, and everything else is practically irrelevant (or socialistic, your pick.)
Now, the other half of the country is comprised of “Grey” people, and despite the nomenclature, I’m not talking about decrepitly old and sickly people or “traditional” alien beings. These are the people that live in urban environments, urbanized communities or in the outskirts of major metropolitan areas.
“Grey” voters are people that, almost always, tend to vote Democratically. Here, the racial and ethnic demographics are much more varied than they are in the rural environs - in fact, in most major urban environments, Caucasians aren’t just minority constituents, but frequently only a few percentage points of the entire demographical pie as a subset. Religious affiliation here is also much, much more diverse than it is amongst “Green” voters, and while large numbers within the “Grey” base label themselves as non-religious, even the religiously-inclined “Grey” voters are quick to downplay the importance of religion as a sociopolitical influence. In other words, even if they do believe in some higher power, they DON’T want the forces of religion commingling with the forces of politics in any fashion - a far cry from the beliefs of most “Green” voters, who not only make religiously-motivated issues major campaign matters, but tend to vote exclusively for politicians that share - or at least, claim to share - the same religious convictions as they do.
Clearly, not everybody in urban accumulations are gay, but for the most part, the environments are a little more receptive of homosexual individuals. By and large, a majority of “Grey” individuals believe that gay people should have the right to marry, while most people out there in “Green America” are deeply, deeply opposed to the idea. As with the “Greens,” the socioeconomics of the “Greys” runs from cartoonishly rich to cartoonishly poor, but their lifestyle convictions are almost diametrical to what the rural folks embrace: just about everybody rents property as opposed to owning their living and working space, a sizable portion of the population is unmarried, and compared to the Greens, such individuals are less likely to have children.
You’ll find the young and the old amongst “Grey America,” but for the most part, it’s a population that tends to skew towards younger individuals. For the most part, “Greys” favor collectivistic measures as opposed to individualistic ones…primarily because they live in habitats that require greater needs for environmental safeguards, transportation access and smoother management of scarcer resources.
The big variable here, of course, are those that live in the suburbs. You always hear politicians talking about the value of “middle class” workers, and that’s for good reason - because these people - for lack of a better term, let’s call them “the Browns” - are the population that usually swing votes from “Green” interests to “Grey” interests. As far as gauging which “America” the “Browns” pledge allegiance to, generally, I would say that the lean closer towards “Greener” interests - after all, these folks are more likely to have families and mortgages and all of that stuff, too - but since so many of these people have ties to urban environments (typically, through working connections), they’re also a population that’s more likely to sense the collectivistic needs of the “Grey” voter base.
In this election, I would say that it was most likely “minority” pockets of “Grey” individuals within the “Brown” demographic that effectively swung the election in favor of Barack Obama. If I had to take a swing at why so many “Browns” voted “Grey” instead of “Green,” I would say that it probably has to do with the fact that “minority” populations within the suburbs, and even some rural areas, decided to vote for the collectivistic progression of their own kind as opposed to individualistic interests. There are a lot of women, Asians, gays, young adults out in the “Browns” and the “Greens,” and this election, they’ve been galvanized to vote in favor of Obama due to their own special interest needs. Suburban Asians may want lower taxes, but they also want laxer immigration requirements and permanent workers visas for their families. Suburban women may want lower caps for the deficit in some instances, but they also want access to health facilities and affordable medicine. Suburban gays may enjoy seeing tighter budgeting on the federal level, but they would also like the ability to adopt children and partake of the same civil unions that everybody else in their neighborhood does, too. A lot of young people would like to see more job creation in the private market, but they would also like to be able to afford to attend college, as well.
Since the days of Richie Nixon, the G.O.P. has prided itself on being the party of “Green America,” but over the last forty years, gargantuan demographical and cultural changes have decreased the electoral value of the nation’s hinterlands monumentally. The “Green Values” supported by Republicans are becoming less and less relevant to an ever-increasing number of “Grey” voters - whether or not those voters live within “Grey” environments or are “Green” and “Brown” inhabitants with decisively “Grey” values and mentalities.
While it’s probably a tad too early to claim that this year’s election results indicate a total paradigm shift in national values, it’s probably a little unwise to simply write off the results as coincidental, too. The stark reality is that “Grey America” is becoming a larger and larger piece of the U.S. as a whole, and unless Republicans pull a complete 180 and find ways to accommodate the social and economic needs of the “new majority” through thoroughly un-Republican policy reform, this year’s results may prove an ominous harbinger for the fate of the Grand Ol’ Party.
Obama’s re-election tells us something very simple - and very revelatory - about the future of politics in these United States. If the Republicans don’t shift their focus away from “Greens” to “Greys,” not only is it guaranteed that we won’t see another conservative in the White House for at least two decades…it might just spell the death of “Republicanism” as a national ideology altogether.