Saturday, November 10, 2012


The Missing Demographic
A Footnote to the 2012 Election
 
            I was watching PBS at 11:15 p.m. on election night. Ray Suarez was in Obama headquarters in Chicago interviewing Rahm Emanuel when suddenly a deafening roar went up from the crowd in the hall below the press box. Emanuel, turning to look, suddenly broke into an uncharacteristic, ear-to-ear grin, throwing his arms over his head like teenage fan whose team had just scored at a championship high school football game.
            CNN had just declared Barack Obama the winner—not just of a battle-ground state but of the entire election. For at least half the nation, which included me, it truly was an ecstatic moment. I felt a wave of relief sweep through my body that carried off months of mounting, largely unconscious stress building in mind and body upon the worry that Mitt Romney and his reactionary party of the past would claim power and so veer the country away from its promise as a multi-cultural, liberal democracy united in the ideal that all of us are equally important, including those who fall behind.
            I have no doubt that ecstatic moment will fade as egos reassemble themselves and renew operations. Already House Speaker John Boehner and our newly elected President have drawn their red lines over taxes and spending cuts that make you think the campaign hasn’t ended. Our worries are far from over.
            Yet ecstatic moments like the one that occurred at approximately 11:15 p.m. on November 6 are not entirely subjective surges that mischaracterize reality. Something definitely happened on election day that proves a point.
           America is no longer the European-derived, white-man’s country of our ancestors. A tipping point has been reached. We have turned a corner, and what I see lying ahead is a unity of promise that equals or surpasses anything I saw up to now in all the years of my life, which go back to 1940, just before our country entered World War II. As the melting pot of the world, we just may be, after all, the pattern for a global culture, a single human race which, hopefully, will extend its largess to all beings on the face of this miraculous planet.
            Much has been made of the “demographics” in this election. Obama owes his victory, media analysts explain, to a shrewd appeal to a variety of “constituencies.” They include African Americans, Hispanics, young voters under thirty, unmarried white women, and, to a lesser extent, Asian Americans. They do not include white males and, for the most part (and surprisingly), senior citizens.
            As a white male senior citizen, I scratch my head about this. Am I so out of step with my “demographic constituency”?
            Or have the pundits possibly overlooked a constituency that includes people like me?
            I think so. They have forgotten about old hippies. Even though that paranoid weirdo in his dark shades—Bob Dylan—was among those honored at the White House last May with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the hippies have not gotten the credit we deserve for helping to start this cultural revolution in the 1960s which landed a black man in the White House in 2008 and reelected him in 2012.
            I’m not looking for any great acknowledgment here. I just want to remind readers of a certain fine point of history, should they happen to stumble upon this piece of writing among the vast sea of virtual trash lapping at the shores of our minds on any given day.
      As the rap song says, “The dirty fucking hippies were right.” And, it seems—if elections prove anything—we still are.

1 Comments:

At 8:16 PM , Blogger Tom Ellis said...

As a fellow ancient hippie, I agree entirely! The vision you describe--"a pattern for a global culture"--goes right back, in fact, to the man who first coined the concept of "United States of America": Thomas Paine, who put it this way: "The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion."

 

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