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There’s a new normal in America

By From page A11 | November 08, 2012

President Barack Hussein Obama’s re-election cements the fact that change has come to America. There’s a new normal across the land.

A recent Associated Press poll conducted by Stanford and the University of Chicago showed that a majority of Americans held negative views of blacks and Hispanics.

The poll gives weight to an article of faith among progressives that much of the animosity toward President Obama, whether it’s birtherism or other attempts to paint him as foreign, have a racial basis.┬áBut what I think generates so much fear and loathing of the president is the fact that he embodies the new America and that scares the heck out of a lot of white Americans.

It’s an America where a biracial man can win the presidency twice while losing the white vote each time.

Tuesday’s election demonstrated the power of minority votes, especially Hispanics. Early exit polling shows President Obama carried as much as 70 percent of the Hispanic vote (as well as a large majority of the Asian vote).

The failure of Republicans to espouse a message that appeals to minorities has left California with a Democratic supermajority in the Legislature for the first time in 80 years. Republicans are now irrelevant in Sacramento and that’s not good for democracy.

It’s not just racial demographics that are changing. Tuesday saw Colorado and Washington become the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, while Massachusetts passed a medical marijuana law.

In Maine and Maryland, voters approved same-sex marriage laws. Marriage equality is the civil rights issue of our day and it runs smack dab into the heart of many Americans’ religious values.

Which brings us to religion. Polls show that America is becoming more secular. It’s possible that religion’s intrusion into politics and the rejection of science has created a backlash. Either way, America is changing.

There’s a fear among the right of the “takers vs. the makers” as Paul Ryan describes it. Or the 47 percent as Mitt Romney tells it. There’s the fear that Obama will┬átake white Americans’ money and give it to blacks and Hispanics, especially illegal immigrants. That fear was the basis for the uproar over health care reform.

The reality is that many Americans of all races and backgrounds receive some kind of government aid, whether it’s Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans benefits, government pensions, student loans, food stamps or TANF (welfare). The old “angry white male” politics will no longer work in national elections.

We may not like everything about the new America but the reality is America has always been about change. Change is stressful. We can fight every little thing and pull the nation apart at the seams or we can find a way to respect each other. One nation under God. Indivisible.

Because in the words of your president: “It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.

“We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.” Peace.

Kelvin Wade is a writer and lives in Fairfield. Email him at [email protected]

Kelvin Wade

Kelvin Wade


Discussion | 19 comments

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  • jafNovember 08, 2012 - 6:10 am

    It's impossible to talk sense to liberals. Liberals can say all they want that Obama believes that anyone can make it if you're willing to try. Why then, are we becoming an entitlement society? Is that what he means by "willing to try"? Why should anyone be "willing to try (work)/(find a job?) if they're just going to be giving their hard-earned money to the "takers"? What don't the liberals get? Eventually when there are more takers than there are makers we become Greece and we are leaning that way. So now, as of Tuesday, Californians will be paying more taxes, and eventually due to Obamacare, the entire working nation will be paying more in taxes to give their money to takers. But, I'm just wasting my breath. Liberals, with their hands over their ears, just aren't willing to listen. America is in decline being taken there by a man who has no clue what to do.

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  • RichNovember 08, 2012 - 6:20 am

    The new demographics of the electorate are the end of the UnitednStates of America. Old and white are now attacked.,.discriminated against and marginalized by the new majority of minorities who forgot Dr. King's message.

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  • CD BrooksNovember 08, 2012 - 6:37 am

    jaf, have you looked at the numbers? A LOT of people voted, the majority spoke. We need positive bipartisan energy now from all of us. Give the president a chance this time.

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  • rlw895November 08, 2012 - 11:08 am

    jaf, you are living in a world of your own imagination. I read your words, and I suppose if you cherry-pick your data, you can make them look true. But at the very least, the USA is more complicated than you think, starting with the "Makers/Takers" false dichotomy. Just about everybody is both, and individuals are more one that the other at different times of their lives. The question is, will we work together to maximize the "making" while enjoying the unique benefits of being an American (the "taking" if you want to call it that)? We can't do that if we keep fighting each other from our imaginary worlds.

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  • Mike KirchubelNovember 09, 2012 - 10:07 am

    Jaf, did you ever stop and think that there are more people on food stamps now because our national economy was run into a ditch by a drunken frat boy? Things are slowly, slowly getting better, but this was a major wreck. To continue to call those still un- or under employed and/or on food stamps "takers" misses the point that almost all would rather be fully employed and making enough to provide for their families. My employers and I have put over $250,000 into Social Security and $90,000 into Medicare. Will you call me a "taker" when I try to get some of that money back? I was on Workman's Compensation for three months in 1967 because I was injured at work. Am I a "taker" in your childish, simplistic black and white world-view? Jaf, it's not "impossible to talk sense to liberals," it's impossible to talk sense to people with closed minds. Change the channel.

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  • VallejoanNovember 08, 2012 - 6:32 am

    As an old white conservative woman, I don't think the problem is so much that the average conservative American has a problem with minorities/gays/marijuana/etc. as that the Republican party has a problem with them. The party seriously needs to embrace some changes, and if they don't get it after this election, then they're going to lose one more member to the ranks of the independents. You can make it in America if you're willing to try? We can barely make it because so much of our pay goes for taxes earmarked to help others, and expenses due to excessive regulation. E.g., how about letting US decide what kinds of light fixtures or windows to install, and allowing us to put in a wood-burning fireplace. How about letting us first relieve everyone else of the burden of caring for us and THEN we'll help others do the same. Crippling our ability to be self-sustaining and thus guaranteeing that we'll need government assistance at some point defeats the whole American ideal of "making it."

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  • Danny BuntinNovember 08, 2012 - 8:34 am

    Can I assume you are for the immediate suspension of S.S. and Medicare benefits/entitlements? Meaning everyone receiving these benefits currently will not see another check/electronic deposit or medical bill covered ever again.

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  • VallejoanNovember 08, 2012 - 9:31 am

    Reductio ad absurdum arguments add nothing to the discussion. Even if it did, you're completely misinterpreting what I said.

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  • Danny BuntinNovember 08, 2012 - 10:47 am

    "How about letting us first relieve everyone else of the burden of caring for us...". These are your words, not mine.

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  • VallejoanNovember 08, 2012 - 11:25 am

    How does that translate to "everyone receiving these benefits currently will not see another check/electronic deposit or medical bill covered ever again"? As rlw says above, we need to "work together to maximize the "making" while enjoying the unique benefits of being an American (the "taking").

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  • Danny BuntinNovember 08, 2012 - 12:31 pm

    Well, you make a statement about windows and light bulbs, as if your freedoms are being trampled on. That is exactly what some people want you to think. First it is light bulbs, then they will come to take your religion. I have heard it to many times to let this baloney fly. The whole get govt off my back schtick is bought and paid for by people who want to run all regulations out of town. So they get you to parrot about light bulbs, and all of a sudden, you start to carry water for them. So instead of understanding why a regulation is in place(To protect you&me or cut down on energy), you get on board with a group that would not spit on you - if you where on fire. They only care about making the most money, with the least investment on there end.

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  • VallejoanNovember 08, 2012 - 12:59 pm

    Stereotype much?

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  • Danny BuntinNovember 08, 2012 - 1:18 pm

    "Stereotype much?" Obviously you do. You are blaming someone else for the reason why "We can barely make it because so much of our pay goes for taxes earmarked to help others". I am building my limited opinion of you based on your writings. Groups want you to blame or point the finger at someone else and think "yeah, that is why I am barely getting by". They could care less about you as I stated earlier. They have ulterior motives in getting you to think this.

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  • Mike KirchubelNovember 08, 2012 - 1:58 pm

    Great discussion. This is what this forum is meant to do. We've all had enough of the name-calling, i do believe. Danny, i appreciate your take on the de-regulators and what they are trying to do, that said, we need to look at the whole regulation list and decide which ones are worth their salt and which aren't. that way, we can move on to the next item and remove one of the pillars supporting the corporate platform. They always say there are too many regulations and then point out one or two stupid ones, hoping to throw the baby out with the bath water. i'm just saying, let's get rid of the stupid ones and make them point out and stand by what they really want to cut.

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  • Danny BuntinNovember 08, 2012 - 2:33 pm

    I am always willing to listen and learn. But this straw-man that is always thrown out there for reasoning to dump regulations tells me two things in my opinion. 1: The person making this comment is doing so only because they heard it somewhere else, without having been through the so called hardship themselves. 2: The person who parrots this, has done no leg work in determining if the regulation is valid. It just sounds stupid to them, and agree it should be removed. I am all for bringing questionable regulations to the table for discussion. But this is not an honest discussion about regulations in my opinion. When someone starts from a false pretense, it makes no sense to meet someone halfway between true and false.

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  • Mike kirchubelNovember 08, 2012 - 8:32 pm

    I agree, Danny. One Way that always seems to work is to simply ask the "regulation reformer " specifically which regulations he wants to toss out. Five will get you ten that they will have no idea which regulations they wAnt to toss. Like you said,they are simply parroting a line that sounded cool when the Guy on fox said it.

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  • Danny BuntinNovember 08, 2012 - 9:11 pm

    I hope Vallejoan did not get a bad taste in her mouth from me being critical of her statements. That was not my intention. I think I just went guns a blazzen, because I just came off writing a pretty long comment this morning - only to be sent to moderator hell after clicking "Post Comment". I will use your soft shoe(regulation reformer question) approach next time.

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  • rlw895November 08, 2012 - 10:39 pm

    Vallejoan, et al.: Because I like analogies, I'll try this one. If I were on a basketball team with a superstar "franchise player," say, Kobe Bryant, I would not want to hobble him just because we would be more equal then. I would want him to be as successful as he can be, because we're on the same team. The team and I benefit from his success as long as he acts as part of the team too. We expect the owners to pay him more, maybe much more, than the rest of us. But we don't expect him to get something like 80% of all the team's payroll, even though we would win practically no games without him. We would expect to share in the success, because we are not "potted plants;" we ARE part of the team and we DO contribute to the team's success in many ways (like rebounding and passing to Kobe). So, maybe Kobe is a "maker" (mostly) and we are "takers" (mostly) but that's what it mean to be on a team. It's "the deal." We should accept it as part of being a successful team.

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  • Rick WoodNovember 08, 2012 - 11:17 am

    Once again, great column, Kelvin. I hope your next column is about Jerry Brown and the remarkable thing he just did. Nothing less than saving our state. Finally, true progress. And next, write about our own Measure P, the local equivalent to what Brown did. I don't know if I can identify one name to give credit to for that one, so I'll just tip my hat to the entire city leadership group, inside and outside of city government. Now can we plant some more street trees downtown?

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