The Obama coalition: Melting pot or colloidal suspension?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

(That’s a great picture, isn’t it? My sincere congratulations to President and Mrs. Obama. This is a really big deal, obviously. I wish their family and our country well, and plan to do whatever I can, however insignificant, to help. Back to work.)

Aren’t you impressed that I can remember the term “colloidal suspension” from high school Chemistry? It’s a substance, like Caesar salad dressing or vinaigrette, that you have to keep shaking or it’ll separate and whatever you pour it on will taste disgusting. (To be honest, that may be all I remember from high school Chemistry, and I’m not even sure of that.)

There’s talk today about how President Obama put together more or less the same coalition he had in 2008, about how he got 110% of the Black American vote, most of the Hispanic vote in the United States and Mexico, all recent college graduates not currently living in their parents basements or flipping burgers for a living, women who are more concerned about potential Surpreme Court appointments than whether or not Americans can afford to eat, and others who found something in Liturgy of Obama that appealed to them, personally.

That’s how he won. His gain, America’s loss. Why? Because everybody has his or her own group nowadays that votes its own self-interest and does so on such a personal basis as to defy logic. Take Black Americans, for example. They have the highest unemployment of any ethnic group. They are the least well educated, and have the lowest incomes. Waves of Asian immigrants passed them by, and Hispanics are well on their way to doing the same. This continues to be true, even though, for the last four years, the President of the United States was of their same ethnicity. By any purely objective standard, if President Obama were white like Mitt, they would have thrown his tush out of The White House.

Don’t buy it? Okay, what explains the nearly 100% support of President Obama by Black American voters if not that they identify with him as a matter of color? You tell me. Someone told me it’s just because they’re all Democrats? They are, but so what? Only Black American Democrats, employed and unemployed, voted for the President in a single block.

Many women like President Obama’s position on reproductive rights and find Republicans to be generally reprehensible – but is it logical that this issue, the potential for Presidential influence through the nomination, but not confirmation, of Supreme Court Justices, would transcend concerns those same women have for their livelihood, for the economy we need to give them the jobs and the equal pay they deserve? No. Women who voted to re-elect President Obama, and I’m married to one of them, have put a very important, highly personal social issue ahead of their concerns for the financial welfare of even their own families, not to mention millions of other Americans who are suffering.

A great number of Hispanic Americans seem more concerned about the status of their own illegal immigrants, those here already and yet to come, than they are about the economic condition of their own and non-Latino countrymen – so concerned that they voted to re-elect a President who has done little more than pay lip service to the promises he’s made them, while substantial numbers of Hispanics can’t find work.

The segmentation of America has trashed our priorities and replaced love of country with a personal sensitivity that is as much or more a cause of national dysfunction as the Washington politics we are always whining about. At best, we tolerate each other, when what should be doing is caring. Aided and abetted by media addicted to the shiny objects they call “breaking news,” we are content to live in a superficial world of sound bites, texts and Tweets, rather than work overtime, together, to resolve the national crises we’re facing.

Is the face of America changing? Sure, but what I’m more concerned about is its soul, the common spirit that never had anything to do with our appearance or personal beliefs, nor was it an amalgamation of them. What I’m talking about is a much bigger idea.

It may sound like sour grapes, but we just re-elected someone who made the majority of us feel warm all over, without the proven ability to make any real progress where it counts. America has technical problems that require a technician to fix. We have millions of Americans suffering major problems that we all need to care about, even if we’re not those people who have been directly affected. And you know what we did? We just caved to the shallow pleasure of our personal issues and re-elected, for another four long years, the less competent Doctor with the great smile and bedside manner, and sent the vastly superior surgeon packing because we didn’t have the maturity, because we’ve become people who put self-interest ahead of the greater good.

Some pundit last night made the observation that Ohio voters don’t care so much about our national economic problems because their state unemployment rate is slightly lower than the overall average, and they benefited from the GM bailout. Has the vision of the American people really become that nearsighted? I sure hope not.

-Next Contestant

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