Wednesday, June 12, 2019

What Was, What Is and What Will Be

If you want to know how someone is likely to vote ask them how they feel about the Past, the Present and the Future. If they are honest with their answers, you can predict with a fair degree of accuracy how they are likely to vote. There will always be special circumstances that override attitudes toward past, present and future. Race and gender perhaps being the most likely to override all other voter attitudes, opinions and interests.

But for the most part, how people vote depends on how they feel about the Past, the Present and the Future. Those who think the Past was better will pretty much tend toward voting conservatively; including those within a left-leaning party such as the Democrats. Those Democrats who like the “old Democratic Party” will tend toward someone more conservative or as they prefer to call in, centrist. (Joe Biden’s current status is a prime example). But clearly, most of the “past was better” crowd is going to vote Republican, even if it means voting for Trump again.

Those with a positive view about the Present are definitely more inclined to vote for the incumbent. But then it gets interesting. When it comes to those having a negative view of the Present, they tend to fall into two camps. One camp thinks The Present would be better IF it were more like the Past. The other has a Future vision of a new and improved way of life that will be much better than the Present. Those unhappy with the Present and looking for a return to the Past will tend toward conservatism and vote Republican. (This was a key factor in Trump’s win). The other unhappy camp is all about fixing those things that are broken and have been broken for a long-time and are likely to get worse if we don’t change and become more “progressive”.

And then lastly, how one feels about the Future will tend to impact ones vote. In 2008, even people who thought America was or had been a great place for them and their families, were scared and confused. The Future did not look all that great and a lot people went with Hope and Change because they didn’t know what else to do. So even people who pretty much wanted their good old familiar, reliable country back voted for a guy who had a much more progressive agenda which, under normal circumstances, would have made them very uncomfortable.

The problem Republicans are facing in 2020 is that a growing number of voters under the age of 35 have not lived in an America that made them long for the good old days. And a good number of them aren’t doing all that great in the here and now either. These folks will be inclined to vote Democrat (or not at all.) Some might even go for a far-left third party candidate if such an option were available. Most all of the “identity” politics crowd will vote Democrat because the Democrats have done a great job of appealing to that audience. They started doing it in 60’s, eventually forming the Rainbow coalition and other groups of progressive activists. It probably cost them a lot of elections over the past 40 years, but now it’s ready to bear fruit. Older white, males who pretty much loved the America they grew up in, are a dying breed…literally.

Increasingly we are now told that the Past was only great for certain people. The Present works great for The One Percent, but everyone else is worse off and losing ground. The Future looks like melting ice caps and rising sea levels, a bad moon rising. All of this resonates with millions of people in this country. So does the narrative shape the people or do the people shape the narrative? Or is it a bit of both? And “What Will Be” ultimately comes down to one question….who actually shows up and votes.

When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

No comments: