Barack Obama and the Death of Normal

In the wake of the 2012 election, David Simon pens an absolute must read on America's transition from a white male majority to a plurality of Americans

Posted on 11/8/2012

I'm honestly hesitant to add any additional thoughts to this, as the piece very loudly speaks for itself, so just go read the whole thing here. One excerpt:

But the country is changing. And this may be the last election in which anyone but a fool tries to play — on a national level, at least — the cards of racial exclusion, of immigrant fear, of the patronization of women and hegemony over their bodies, of self-righteous discrimination against homosexuals. Some in the Republican party and among the teabagged fringe will continue to play such losing hands for some time to come; this shit worked well in its day and distracted many from addressing any of our essential national issues. But again, if they play that weak-ass game past this point, they are fools.

America is different now, more so with every election cycle. Ronald Reagan won his mandate in an America in which 89 percent of the voters were white. That number is down to 72 percent and falling. Fifty thousand new Latino citizens achieve the voting age every month. America will soon belong to the men and women — white and black and Latino and Asian, Christian and Jew and Muslim and atheist, gay and straight — who can comfortably walk into a room and accept with real comfort the sensation that they are in a world of certain difference, that there are no real majorities, only pluralities and coalitions. The America in which it was otherwise is dying, thank god, and those who relied on entitlement and division to command power will either be obliged to accept the changes, or retreat to the gated communities from which they wish to wax nostalgic and brood on political irrelevance.

You want to lead in America? Find a way to be entirely utilitarian — to address the most problems on behalf of the most possible citizens. That works. That matters.


Alyssa at Think Progress adds on:

That ability to be interested in difference rather than intimidated by it, and to approach the things that make someone different from you not as a matter of anthropology but out of desire to know them, is critical to the political distinctions Simon is drawing here. For so long, our politics have been split between ideas like Mark Penn’s theory of microtargeting, which aimed to divide up the population into easily comprehensible interest groups based on shared characteristics, or the uglier, more pervasive strain of thinking that President Obama’s blackness, like that of all African-Americans, is the most defining thing about him. It’s time to abandon that tendency to predict–or diagnose–behavior from a distance maintained out of distaste and fear. And it’s time to embrace a politics oriented towards a genuine desire to understand and appreciate difference, a process that allows for mistakes and clarification as a necessary precondition for growth. It’s made for astonishing television. It could make for transformative politics.


Daily Kos also reflects on how the change in urbanization is affecting our society:

These are my students, these young men and women. These are the students who have learned that being urban creates this kind of world. And these students? Are for the most part completely comfortable with that. They will raise their children in cities, too, and their children will grow up comfortable, tolerant and progressive.

Meanwhile, as demonstrated yesterday, the rural worldview, the clannishness, the us-and-them mentality, is dying. It's dying because our young people are growing up in diverse, urban, metropolitan areas more and more often. It's dying because fewer and fewer people are staying in rural towns. The world is more urban than it has ever been in human history.

The Tea Party (and the GOP) and their members have been running on the rural worldview and all its attendant assumptions - whites are the majority, men are the majority, women should know their place, anyone not white should go away and go to prison - for a long, long time.

But as my student pointed out, the more urban we get, the more the social safety net is going to be important to us. The more urban we get, the more progressive the country gets. The more we urbanize, the more progressives we get.


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