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. But 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 take 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]