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April 18, 2005

The Crucial Political/Cultural Divide

Chris Bowers of myDD blog, has consistently done great post-election analysis.  As he’s been grappling with what really happened in November and what it means for the future, he’s written some excellent posts – on the permanent loss of the South for the Democrats, on the potential importance of the West, or the preeminence of marital status over gender in predicting voting patterns and more.  With this article on Friday, I think he’s gotten to the analytical nub of what divides us as a nation and, as importantly, what the implications are for the future. 

The quickest way to summarize the developing demographic trends of the two coalitions is a white Christian coalition versus a non-white and / or non-Christian coalition. The voting habits of non-whites and white non-Christians are rapidly approaching parity, just as the voting of white Protestants and white Catholics are doing the same. Further, race and religion are now far better at determining how someone will vote than region, income, union membership, or pretty much anything else you could name.

The white Christian-identified folks are in defensive mode, focused on the “us” vs. “them” aspects of their world-view and the long list of their enemies – liberals, gays, Muslims, academics, Hollywood-types, and now judges.  The non-Whites and non-Christians (or non-Christian-identified folks) are becoming a common but diverse voting bloc of people with a keen awareness of how much we’re all in this together.  “No wonder we love Obama so damn much: he is almost the physical embodiment of the new liberal coalition.  His political viewpoints are almost a natural extension of having lived within the world.”

Then, Chris goes on to talk about the changing demographics of these two coalitions and what it means for our liberal role over the next 40 years:

While less than 40% of the national population under the age of 40 is both white and Christian, roughly 70% of the national population over the age of forty is both white and Christian. At some point over the next few decades, the white and Christian population of this country will no longer be a majority, or even close to a majority. It will take forty years for that to thoroughly happen, but when it does the two coalitions as we know them will cease to exist. In the interim, which will form the majority of the rest of our lives, the role of progressives and of the Democratic coalition will be to bring about an end to the current order of identity as visualized by large segments of the country and the world. We will win where identity ends, and our children will thank us for it. Maybe there is a clash of civilizations, a clash we need to end. Maybe that is our role in the world.

So, what I make out of this is that our job over the next 40 years or so, is to do the best we can possible to to shield our wings over our constitutional democracy to give the next generation the best possible chance to rebuild this world in the way we would want if we were still around.     

Posted by Lynn Allen on April 18, 2005 at 11:55 AM in Strategery | Permalink


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