Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Bluing Of America

Ted Cruz, the Senator-elect from Texas, has an interesting observation to make:

“If Republicans do not do better in the Hispanic community,” he said, “in a few short years Republicans will no longer be the majority party in our state.” He ticked off some statistics: in 2004, George W. Bush won forty-four per cent of the Hispanic vote nationally; in 2008, John McCain won just thirty-one per cent. On Tuesday, Romney fared even worse.

“In not too many years, Texas could switch from being all Republican to all Democrat,” he said. “If that happens, no Republican will ever again win the White House. New York and California are for the foreseeable future unalterably Democrat. If Texas turns bright blue, the Electoral College math is simple. We won’t be talking about Ohio, we won’t be talking about Florida or Virginia, because it won’t matter. If Texas is bright blue, you can’t get to two-seventy electoral votes. The Republican Party would cease to exist. We would become like the Whig Party. Our kids and grandkids would study how this used to be a national political party. ‘They had Conventions, they nominated Presidential candidates. They don’t exist anymore.’ ”

Long-time and careful readers of my prose will recognize this statement. I've long held that the US is due to swing the political pendulum back to liberal thinking and policies.

Normally, pendulums lose momentum and gravitate towards the center, and that will eventually happen, but in this instance, Karl Rove and the Republicans, in an effort to create what Rove termed a "permanent Republican majority" have pulled the pendulum really far to the right.

And you know what happens when you pull a pendulum really hard: it swings back, fast and hard.

Cruz is one of a handful of Republicans -- Marco Rubio and Suzanna Martinez are among the others -- who could prevent this from happening, but it seems really unlikely to occur. It's pretty clear that Florida (Rubio) and New Mexico (Martinez) have cemented the Democratic party as the party of the minority vote. But that's not the issue, identity politics. It's something much more basic and subtle.

I want you to think back to the election campaign, particularly the general election: can you name one Republican proposal for the next four years that didn't involve lowering taxes for the wealthy?

Meanwhile, Obama still has a raft of policies from his 2008 campaign that he can call upon at any time and propose. This is what we might term "leadership."

People respond to this. People in trouble especially respond to proposals that will lift us all out of trouble. It's fine to propose a tax cut-- claiming it's for all but in truth, it benefits the wealthy the most -- but when people aren't so worried about their next paycheck as their next car or their house or their retirement or their children, short-term proposals lose an awful lot of their luster.

If Hurricane Sandy benefitted President Obama at all -- apart from looking Presidential, I mean -- it is on this very subtle point. Sandy showed that everything we build up for ourselves to ensure a future can be wiped off the face of the earth in an instant, and then where do you begin again?

Tax cuts help, to be sure, but they don't address the underlying problem: jobs don't pay as much as they used to and second jobs are really embarrassing.

Wage growth will help Americans. To play with tax cuts at this point in time is preposterous. It's like giving someone a five percent discount off a TV, when what they need is a job that pays enough so they can pay for that TV out of their own pocket, not borrowing the money.

This, above all other reasons, is why I believe America is heading for a progressive agenda over the coming decades. People are tired of crumbs and want the bread, and minorities are only the canary in the coalmine on this point.