It would seem to be the worst of all possible results—an Obama presidency and much larger Democratic majorities in Congress. What can’t be erased is the picture of adoring white faces in the crowd at Grant Park in Chicago during Obama’s victory speech. They were the faces of people who had just been granted racial deliverance. Hanging on his every word, on the verge of tears of joy.
Granted, these pathetic white people do not represent the majority of white people. The CNN exit poll data indicate that 55% of whites voted for McCain, including 57% of white males and 53% of white females. In the 2004 election,58% of whites voted for Bush. (As Richard McCulloch points out, these are low estimates because non-European whites, especially Jews and Muslims that voted overwhelmingly for Obama, are included in the white count.)
The only white age group to vote for Obama was the 18–29 year old category—a category still under the sway of the educational system and filled with youthful idealism. 54% of them voted for Obama. Quite a few of them will grow out of it by the time they are 30—much sooner if they begin to see that the job market is stacked against them and that the Obama administration is pushing quotas.
But the bottom line is that McCain could not hold the advantage that Bush enjoyed in 2004 among whites, especially working class whites. This is doubtless due to the extreme unpopularity of the Bush administration—an administration that not only gave us the disastrous neocon war in Iraq but also did absolutely nothing to win the affection of its base by standing up on issues like immigration.
And the McCain campaign labored under the economic crisis that, in the public’s mind at least, was linked to the Bush administration. There is no question that a lot of white people put their economic fears ahead of anything else. In an economy where good jobs with good benefits are increasingly difficult to find for working class people, one has to sympathize. This is another area where the Bush administration did nothing to help its natural constituency.
Nevertheless, the Republican Party remains a white party. Whites represented around 90% of Republican votes cast in this election. Minorities voted overwhelmingly for Obama (95% of blacks, 66% of Latinos, 61% of Asians). (TheLA Times says only 30% of Latinos voted for McCain — this despite McCain being the Republican poster boy for amnesty for illegals.) So much for Karl Rove’s idea of expanding the Republican vote by favoring mass immigration of non-whites.
In fact, the big change between 2004 and 2008 is that much higher percentages of minorities voted for Obama than voted for Kerry. (Kerry was supported by 88% blacks, 53% Latino, 56% Asian). This shift in the direction of the Democrats is quite a bit greater than the shift among white people. Even though whites were less racially polarized in this election, the minorities were more polarized. There is little question that the Democrats have become the party of the minorities.
And the electorate itself was less white (77% in 2004, 74% in 2008). The clock keeps ticking.
In a previous editorial, we suggested that if Obama were to achieve a landslide victory, it would lead to immediate and drastic change desired by the far left. The landslide did not materialize, and no one is suggesting a mandate for drastic change. We suspect that the new administration will tread lightly and attempt to retain its white constituency by not openly advocating quotas or other issues that needlessly alienate whites. That is perhaps their best strategy for retaining power for two terms.
But such a strategy must go up against increased expectations among blacks and other minorities that their time has come. The problem for Obama and the Democrats is that white discrimination against blacks and Latinos is pretty much irrelevant to their achievement patterns. Group differences in IQ and impulse control are far larger contributors, and Obama’s election is not going to change these traits.
So in the end, the only way that Obama can satisfy his black and Latino constituents is to get results by implementing programs like quota-style affirmative action and transfer payments that will alienate whites in droves.
A true post-racial leader would fight discrimination while working to convince blacks and Latinos to accept their lower socio-economic positions as an inevitable outcome of a free market. But quite obviously, the probability of that happening is right up there with pigs flying and hell freezing over.
In the end, we think that in the long run Obama’s election will indeed contribute to the racial polarization of the country. Our day will come.