“Who cares what’s the matter with Kansas?”

Paul Krugman, very pleased with the re-election of Obama, wrote:

I have to say, the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments on the right comes as a surprise. We knew that they would be upset; but the extent to which they were really, truly unprepared for the obvious possibility that Obama would be reelected is remarkable. I suspect that it comes down to two things: self-definition in terms of always being the people with the power, and the right-wing bubble, which left them completely unaware of information they didn’t want to hear.

It’s true that the odds were always in favor of Obama, and it’s also true that many on the right (including myself) became excited when a Romney victory began to look possible, and felt devastated when he lost.

In some ways it’s analogous to what Democrats went through in the 2004 elections, working themselves into a frenzy with the belief that they could kick the hated George W. Bush out of office. I still remember the image of Bruce Springsteen triumphantly stepping off stage after a benefit concert right before the election. They really believed they would win, because they wanted so to win, and after all, they were right.

The next day they were all in shock, talking about wearing black in mourning and moving to Canada.

It is not fair to mock conservatives for their wishful thinking. Americans have always felt that elections matter and that their individual votes matter, and those on the right have, until the last decade at any rate, been able to count on a reserve of conservative white sentiment emerging at election time to confound the hopes and predictions of liberals. The reality that is only beginning to hit some of them now is that demographic change in America has largely neutralized this force.

But it is very noteworthy that Krugman, whose credibility hangs on his credentials as a world-class economist, sheds objectivity when he reveals his delight in the increasing marginalization of white middle America:

…one big thing that just happened was that the real America trumped the “real America”. And it’s also the election that lets us ask, finally, “Who cares what’s the matter with Kansas?”

For a long time, right-wingers — and some pundits — have peddled the notion that the “real America”, all that really counted, was the land of non-urban white people, to which both parties must abase themselves. Meanwhile, the actual electorate was getting racially and ethnically diverse, and increasingly tolerant too. The 2008 Obama coalition wasn’t a fluke; it was the country we are becoming.

And sure enough that more diverse and, if you ask me, better nation just won big.

Notice too that to the extent that social issues played in this election, they played in favor of Democrats. Gods, guns, and gays didn’t swing voters into supporting corporate interests; instead, human dignity for women swung votes the other way.

A huge night for truth, justice, and the real American way.

Krugman is right: the Obama coalition now represents the majority – though not a unified, coherent, or very large one. Republicans might be able to rally for another few elections, though it isn’t looking likely, considering their complete unwillingness to consider appealing to actual white – er, “Kansas” – interests. This writer disagrees, however, that the Obama coalition represents the “real America.” That is not a matter to be determined by numbers, especially not numbers inflated by the presence of foreigners like the so-called “Latinos.”

Like many I find it increasingly unlikely that our traditional institutions or the democratic process can ever again function to serve the interests of white Americans. But that only underscores the need for traditionalist conservatives to keep the flames of truth burning, and search for other ways to recover a decent way of life as a people. It’s not over by a long shot.

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2 Responses to “Who cares what’s the matter with Kansas?”

  1. Dave86 says:

    “In some ways it’s analogous to what Democrats went through in the 2004 elections… The next day they were all in shock, talking about wearing black in mourning and moving to Canada.”
    There’s a big difference between that and how conservatives are reacting – right-wingers are talking about secession for Christ’s sake.

    • stephenhopewell says:

      Well, it interests me to find similarities between liberals and conservatives, since they are politically so opposed. Excluding the newer arrivals, they do come from the same culture.

      But the 2004 Bush victory was no real victory for conservatives, and the 2012 Obama victory is something much bigger and more decisive.

      “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another….” If it is not possible to restore a traditional, moral, American order within the current political system then secession may be necessary and justified.

      Also, mainstream conservatives and Republicans are certainly not calling for secession. They are calling for more pandering to Hispanics and more social liberalism.

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