Talk all you want about the fiscal cliff, but more important still will be how the Obama administration deals with a potential growth-inducing energy boom.
With their enthusiastic backing of President Obama and the Democratic Party on Election Day, the bluest parts of America may have embraced a program utterly at odds with their economic self-interest. The almost uniform support of blue states’ congressional representatives for the administration’s campaign for tax “fairness” represents a kind of bizarre economic suicide pact.
The red states may have lost the presidential election, but they are winning new residents, largely at the expense of their politically successful blue counterparts. For all the talk of how the Great Recession has driven people — particularly the “footloose young” — toward dense urban centers, Census data reveal that Americans are still drawn to the same sprawling Sun Belt regions as before.
For a century now, Republicans have confused being the party of plutocrats with being the party of prosperity. Thus Mitt Romney.
To win back the so-called 47 percent—an insulting description Romney doubled down after the election when he blamed his loss on Obama’s “gifts”—Republican might look farther back, past Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover to their first president, Abraham Lincoln.
Conservatives of the paranoid stripe flocked to the documentary “America: 2016” during the run up to the election, but you don’t have to time travel to catch a vision of President Obama’s plans for the future. It’s playing already in California.
Looking at Tuesday’s election results, it’s clear the United States has morphed into five distinct political nations. This marks a sharp consolidation of the nine cultural and economic regions that sociologist Joel Garreau laid out 30 years ago in his landmark book “The Nine Nations of North America.”
In political terms there are two solid blue nations, perched on opposite coasts, that have formed a large and powerful bloc. Opposing them are two almost equally red countries, which include the historic Confederacy as well as the vast open reaches between the Texas panhandle and the Canadian border.
Who lost the most in economic terms Tuesday? Certainly energy companies now face a potentially implacable foe — and a re-energized, increasingly hostile bureaucratic apparat. But it’s not them. Nor was it the rhetorically savaged plutocrats who in reality have been nurtured so well by the President’s economic tag team of Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner.
President Obama’s re-election does not, as some conservatives suggest, represent a triumph of socialism. Instead, it marks the massive endorsement of an expanding crony capitalism that ultimately could reshape the already troubled American economic system beyond recognition.
President Obama, the man many saw as curing the country’s “scar of race,” won a second term in the most racially polarized election in decades. Overall, the Romney campaign relied almost entirely on white voters, particularly in the South and among the working class. Exit polls showed that almost 60 percent of whites voted for Romney.
President Obama won re-election primarily because he did so well with two key, and expanding, constituencies: Hispanics and members of the Millennial Generation. Throughout the campaign, Democratic pundits pointed to these two groups as being the key difference makers. They were right.
Let’s start with Hispanics, arguably the biggest deciders in this election. Exit polling shows Obama winning this group — which gave up to two-fifths of their vote to George Bush — by over two to one. In 2008, Obama improved his winning margin with Latino voters from 67% in 2008 to 69% in 2012. And for the first time they represented 10% of the overall electorate.
Along Phillips Avenue, the main street of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the local theater’s marquee is a tribute to the late Senator and 1972 presidential candidate George McGovern, who was buried last month, and is still regarded as a hero by many here. But with McGovern gone, it seems that the Democratic tradition of decent populism he epitomized was being interred along with him.
President Obama’s disdain for suburban America has been well-documented. Yet, ironically, the current revival in housing, largely in those same suburbs, might be the one thing that could rescue his floundering campaign. Unlike the Democrat-dominated central cities and the rock-red Republican countryside, the suburbs remain the country’s primary contestable territory.
The middle class, we’re frequently told, decides elections. But the 2012 race has in many ways been a contest between two elites, with the plutocratic corporate class lining up behind Mitt Romney to try and reclaim its position on top of the pile from an ascendant new group—made up of the leaders of social and traditional media, the upper bureaucracy and the academy—that’s bet big on Barack Obama.
There may be no better illustration of President Barack Obama’s appeal than his ability to hold onto voters — minorities, single moms and young people — who have fared the worst under his presidency. But the bigger question as we approach Election Day may be whether these constituencies, having been mauled by the economy, show up in sufficient numbers to save the presidential bacon.
Welcome to the politics of disappointment. Much has been said about the problems facing the middle class, who have been losing out since the 1970s. But the biggest recent losers have been groups like African-Americans. In the current economic downturn, middle class African-Americans have lost virtually all the gains they made over the past 30 years, according to the National Urban League. Median annual household income for blacks decline by more than 11 percent between June 2009 and June 2012, according to the Census bureau, twice the loss suffered by whites.
When Americans think of oil executives, they tend to conjure up the image of J. R. Ewing: slick smile, sharp suits, cowboy boots, and a 10-gallon hat packed with bluster, vanity, and greed. According to Gallup, no industry is more widely reviled than oil and gas—not even banking, real estate, or heath care. The poll found that 64 percent of Americans disapprove of its activities. Only the federal government fared worse.