Obama’s Demographic Problem

I promised that I would write about this, but unfortunately I haven’t had the time to do the proper research on it.  Maybe just writing my thoughts down will prompt someone to do some due diligence on the matter.  Anyway, the issue is this: Obama (and by extension the Democratic party) has been selling itself as ‘the party of the common man’.  In essence, Obama and the Democrats are banking on the American voter punishing the Republicans for the current state of the economy.  The Democrats have found their example cases to feature in commercials: “people just like you” who have lost their homes, lost their jobs, their way of life, etc.  These ads are meant to cause empathy between the average voter and the Democratic party.

The problem: who is going to empathize?

I do not know if anyone has actually conducted a poll about this, but I have grave doubts that in today’s America very many people identify themselves as ‘middle class’ or even ‘poor’.  I am not trying to weave a delusional quilt that portrays most Americans as well-off.  However in recent years it has been easy to secure personal debt (via credit cards and mortgages).  This, combined with the recent drop in prices of seemingly ‘luxury’ goods such as flat-screen televisions and portable electronics, and most Americans are buying things that 20 years ago would have been inconceivably expensive.  What I think this means is that most Americans don’t even want to consider themselves as middle class.  This is shown by the last two presidential elections.  Even though the Democrats have been screaming about how the Bush tax cuts only favor the rich, people have consistently voted Republican.  Why is this the case?  I think that many people don’t want to consider themselves ‘poor’, and they look at a small mutual fund account or 401k as something that should not be taxed and taken away by the government.

In short, I think that Obama will have a difficult time winning this election because no matter how tough things become, the idea of making a pitch to a large demographic (‘working class’ voters) is subverted by the strategy that appeals to the individual employed by the Republicans.  Republicans appeal to selfish, narrowly self-interested voters.  It does not take a lot of stereotyping to see Americans for what they are.  Narrow self interest and a so-called ‘faith in the market’ are hallmarks of American identity.  They will not be eradicated in the near future; worse still is the idea that by appealing to a sense of ‘collective’ will inevitably fail in a country that is more than anywhere else on earth interested in protecting the individual from the ‘tyranny of the majority’.

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6 responses to “Obama’s Demographic Problem

  1. I see your point. So does Barack, that’s why he talks so much about individual responsibility going hand-in-hand with shared responsibility. That’s a tack Bill Clinton used fairly successfully, and one that Dukakis, Gore and Kerry shied away from.

  2. Its interesting how people will vote against their seeming best interests. It happened here in the UK for 18 years when people voted for the Conservative Party at every election (although the opposition were almost unelectable), when they titled the economy in favour of the wealthiest in society. Guess its an aspiration thing, but people don’t like to be told they’re working class (the equivalent of using the term middle class in the US I guess) and that rather than climb up in society, money will be redistributed, even if thats more equitable.

    I agree with you that Obama is going to have a tough time winning the election. According to polls, the Dems would be a shoe in if they’d have gone for an old white guy as their candidate as they’re hugely popular compared to the Reps, whereas people aren’t sure about Obama specifically.

  3. I think Obama will end up winning (especially now that McCain has committed a political blunder-for-the-history-books by putting up this Palin woman as his successor). However you are right to say that it’s aspiration that causes so much uneasiness with the Democrats. Also I read an interesting thought today that the Democrats have always been the party of reason and rationality while the Republicans have always had gut feeling and faith on their side. It makes sense, and is a good way to split apart the sometimes incomprehensible election results that have dogged the Democrats for the past 20-or-so-odd years (2004 comes to mind).

  4. Well, when it comes the the 2004 election, there was massive vote fraud in many states and districts… it was one of the first things I blogged about a few weeks ago now, so check it out if you’re interested. There’s a whole catalogue of vote manipulation, especially with the electronic voting machines that make 2000’s result look fair and transparent. Bizarre stuff like Bush winning more votes than registered voters in certain areas, exit polls being wrong by huge percentages (virtually unknown, especially in established democracies), phantom votes from people not even on the voter rolls. Its not an issue enough people seem to have paid attention to, but its very worrying. On the blog entry about it I link to a video of an ex-CEO of the commercial arm of the company who make the voting machines and he says he knows how they work and they’re so open to manipulation its untrue. He’s a registered Republican, but trying to get the word out because he doesn’t want the part to win by cheating and see the country move towards faux elections and facism.

    Sorry to go off topic, but just wanted to highlight another reason why I question Obama’s chances in November.

  5. question: what’s your blog address? It’s not showing up when I click your name.

  6. http://kennedy121.wordpress.com/

    To go directly to the article about the vote fraud it was posted on Aug 17th if that makes it easier to find! Its quite long, and mostly bits I put together from other sources, but hopefully it should be of some interest!

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