Monday, July 24, 2017

Demographics aiming at 2020

People vote, or they don't, if they can vote, and some can't, but when a lot of people vote, you can count what they do and at least see some trends.

In an article in The Atlantic, from May this year, research shows the standard analysis: race and education. Non-white voters are increasing in their overall percentage of the vote; and white voters are decreasing. Even among white voters, those with more formal education are increasing their share at the expense of those who might oppose them among whites with less formal education. In 1992, non-college grad white folk were sixty percent of the overall vote in the US. White folk with college degrees were about twenty-four percent. Non-white folk about fourteen percent. Non-college-degree white folks today are still in the largest plurality at forty-four percent; with non-whites up to twenty-three percent and college-whites at thirty-two percent. Math is not my strong suit, but this looks as if the demographic that Trump mobilized (which correlated more closely to formal education than to economic class -- no, they are NOT the same thing) is only sitting on its throne temporarily. The issue, according to The Atlantic, is turnout, with lower voter turnout in 2016 among non-whites (again, a Very Broad Brush), and the mobilization of the Trump supporters far in excess of the support for Romney in the last cycle. But this demographic is being whittled away by time and the upcoming demographics of non-white and college-white. So Trump rode a small rogue wave that will never happen again.

In 2012, Obama won thirty-nine percent of the white vote and eighty percent of the non-white vote. But Clinton was not Obama, when she ran in 2016, and she lost a greater share than she won, based on three demographics: she lost the ex-union whites to Trump's claim to oppose neoliberal trade agreements, non-white turnout for her was anemic, and young people mounted an internal rebellion in the party on behalf of the insurgent, Sanders.

By 2020, all "millennials" will have reached voting age, and this was the hard core of the Sanders rebellion. By 2020, they will constitute 90 million American voters. That's right around forty percent. And they will be proportionally less white. While The Atlantic separated the college-whites from non-college-whites, it did not make a similar distinction between college-non-whites and non-college-non-whites. But this needs doing if we are to study the Sanders movement; and that study is necessary because this was the first appearance of an American anti-austerity campaign in the electoral arena. That, my friends, seems like a Very Big Deal, regardless how may sectarians try to parse their way out of their inability to foresee or control it. Vanguard complexes.

By 2020, around thirty-five percent of the US vote will be non-white; and forty percent of that thirty-five percent will be Millennials.

This is why the post-election self-flagellation and finger-pointing, telling us everything went wrong . . . is wrong itself. A lot of things went surprisingly right, even though they failed to clear all the obstacles along the electoral path. The emergence of a strong challenger within the institution of the Democratic party whose basic shtick was anti-austerity may not have "worked" in 2016, but with the demographics of 2020, the exact same thing could succeed spectacularly, with the newfound demographic power joined to the savvy of 2016 having been a dress rehearsal from which many lessons were well-learned.

The Democratic Party proved that it could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in 2016; let's hope the movement that challenged that establishment doesn't pay attention to the self-flagellation and finger pointing, and that it doesn't likewise snatch defeat from the jaws of victory . . . by doing things too differently. What came close to happening in 2016 could happen, and happen handily, in 2020.

White men over 65, like myself, voted for Trump at a rate of almost sixty-seven percent (I did not). We will inexorably die, as we are doing right now.

Sanders beat Clinton almost three to one among voters under 29 years old. Older establishment Democrats are shuffling off this mortal coil, even as with each birthday, more Millennials will get their voter registrations.

Non-white voters voted against Trump at rates approaching ninety percent. Among non-white voters against Trump, the greatest support for Sanders prior to the Primary election of Clinton among non-white voters was most predictable by age. In the under-30 crowd among African Americans, for example, Sanders garnered fifty-two percent; whereas the older folk overwhelmingly took the "safe" path with the "electable" Clinton. (30-44 = 70% Clinton; 45-59=85% C; 60+=89% C.)

As they say in Lion King or somewhere, the circle of life. In three more years -- THREE -- all we need are candidates and an issue. We will be younger, and younger stronger.

I think that issue is Single Payer health care. I'll tell you why.

Whether people recognize the lingo or not, austerity is what is pissing them off. Not the abstraction hidden in the anodyne term, but the reality of things getting progressively harder and scarier for people as nations and economic blocs implement what are called "austerity measures," which means transferring goods from the bottom to the top to ensure the top's ability to continue to accumulate more goods, i.e., money. Austerity is cutting back social services, increasing debt loads, enclosing the commons, privatizing the gains while socializing the losses, implementing regressive taxes, and forcing people to work more for less.

Public control over anything is anathema to austerity-boosters, who are both Republicans and Democrats, by the way; and public control over a large health care budget that would guarantee every person in the country a reduced dependence on the powerful (employers, e.g.). Health care affects everyone; and it has a powerful moral dimension because sickness and disability applies to each of us at some point, in some way, exactly where we are the most vulnerable.

Remove this worry -- about choosing between electricity bills and doctors, for example -- and people become different, less frightened, less angry. They are less likely to take more crap from unjust bosses, less likely to accept work that will injure them or erode their dignity or challenge their consciences. Whether we know it or not, it is always a class war; which is a war initiated and sustained from above. The warriors of the rich know it's all about power, about getting other people to do the will of the powerful; and money-dependency is the greatest of all leverages in this day and age, because money is the sign upon which we depend absolutely.

A universal health program, run by the public through the government, would cover everyone all the time, for less money than we now pay. And it would simultaneously begin breaking the parasitic grip of insurance and drug companies on the rest of society. Small employers would be able to pay more in wages and less in outlays for health plans. No suburbanite family that thinks it's got it goin' on will wake up one day to bankruptcy and sleeping in the car because of an unforeseen and catastrophic medical expense.

In terms of reversing the overall trend of austerity -- which amounts to money and power transferred to the pockets of the monied and powerful -- no single program in the US could recuperate the losses of the sustained neoliberal attack on New Deal social programs more extensively than a Single Payer health program.

Now, the sectarians will demand more. They demand until the demands can no longer be met by the existing reality in order to demonstrate their moral superiority; and so they nurse revolutionary fantasies where The Party (led by them, of course) resolves all our social problems by decree and in accordance with their extremely comprehensive Program. That's strategic thinking at its best-worst. Single-payer provides a tactical focus at the same time it offers something solid to DNE (damn near everyone).

Not only that, in the process of campaigning for Single Payer/anti-austerity, the movement gains valuable experience for a lot more activists, which strengthens a network of small, local cadres, to defend the gains, study the ways in which the campaign and eventually the law will change things, then determine another tactical focus based on what is happening) not the strategic milestones on some ossified Program).

With a strengthened base, one with natural international affinities (anti-austerity movements abroad), a newly strengthened political actor steps onto the international stage as part of a global anti-austerity movement.

Just a few things to think about as if 2016 contained a victory. It did. A scary one, but a victory nonetheless.