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Thu Nov 22, 2012, 08:32 PM

Today's Politics: Coalition of Transformation vs. Coalition of Restoration

Today's Politics: Coalition of Transformation vs. Coalition of Restoration
By Ronald Brownstein
November 21, 2012


In terms of shaping the Democrats’ long-term trajectory, by far the most important decisions Obama made this year were to dive into the powerful cultural and demographic currents transforming the American landscape. Previously, many party leaders have qualified (or entirely withheld) their support from causes such as gay marriage or legalizing undocumented immigrants, for fear of alienating culturally conservative whites. Obama this year embraced both without qualification; then, for good measure, he accepted a collision with the GOP and the Catholic Church (over the availability of free contraception under health care reform) that crystallized contrasting attitudes about the role of women. Obama, beginning an overdue rebalancing in federal spending, even shifted resources from seniors to the much more racially diverse working-age population by funding health coverage for the uninsured partly through savings in Medicare.

Romney, in his sulfurous postelection remarks, interpreted Obama’s moves as providing voters “gifts” to buy their support. But these decisions represented nothing more malevolent or unusual than a party responding to the needs of its emerging constituencies.

Obama’s choices undoubtedly contributed to his historically weak showing among older- and blue-collar whites. Yet, with those voters stampeding toward the GOP, Obama won reelection behind a much more ideologically unified coalition than Democrats usually assemble; according to exit polls, four-fifths of his voters, for instance, said they supported a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Notably, in the exit polls, most Hispanics and African-Americans also said they supported gay marriage. All this means that, compared to even President Clinton’s era, the Democrats are now operating with a largely coherent Coalition of Transformation that will allow (and even pressure) them to align more unreservedly with the big cultural and demographic forces remaking America.

For better or worse, this election more clearly stamped the Republicans as a Coalition of Restoration, overwhelmingly dependent on the votes of whites unsettled by those changes. After Obama’s victory, conservative grandees such as Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly portrayed the election as something like the Alamo, with true Americans overrun by hordes of benefit-grubbing minorities and young people. “We are outnumbered,” Limbaugh despaired. Romney capped this keening last week with his postelection diatribe to donors about Obama’s “gifts”--possibly the bitterest screed from a loser since Richard Nixon declared, “You won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore” after he lost California’s 1962 governor’s race.



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Reply Today's Politics: Coalition of Transformation vs. Coalition of Restoration (Original post)
babylonsister Nov 2012 OP
DonViejo Nov 2012 #1
socialist_n_TN Nov 2012 #2

Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 08:50 PM

1. Years ago, Bill Clinton was asked to name his favorite

analyst, he said, Ron Brownstein.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 08:59 PM

2. Thanks for posting sister. This actually ties into something.........

that I've been pondering and believing for the last few years, maybe a decade or so.

In the American political system, change is resisted, so once a meme becomes engrained (let's call one big meme, "Big government is bad and dead", it takes a WHILE to "vote" it out. When Reagan brought in the anti-big government, low tax Heaven meme and won a SECOND term with it, it became engrained. Becoming engrained into the American political psyche, even the opposition Democratic Party bought into it to a greater or lesser degree. Ergo we spent a couple of decades (roughly a generation plus) having absolutely NO opposition to this meme from the leaders and spokesmen of either of the main parties. Hell, even the very WORD that signified the opposition to this meme was so demonized that very few will self describe themselves with that word now. Notice how the bourgeois left uses "progressive" rather than "liberal" most of the time?

Anyway, because of the conservative nature of American politics, when the meme changes in public perception, it takes a while for the politicians to notice. Or catch up. I think that the public has been swinging left for at least a decade, in spite of stolen elections, now and the pols are just now taking notice. Kudos to Obama for picking up on it, but like all politicians, he's late. My problem is that Obama is changing on the "cultural" issues, but hasn't proven he's changed that much on the economic ones. He needs to change there too. An economic as well as a cultural populist, is what the country wants. And needs.

Generals are often accused of fighting the "last" war rather than the one that's being waged now. Obama needs to get on board with where the country is now on ALL OF THE ISSUES. Economic as well as cultural.

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