New Middle Class Coalition in the Making?


    There are times in political history when we are privileged to see a new coalition forming around a charismatic leader who leads the way to a changed nation, hopefully changed for the better. We may be seeing that happen right now. The future will reveal whether Barack Obama has pulled off that feat. That happened in the 1930’s with the coalition of FDR. On the GOP side, it happened during the Reagan years. When such a political alignment takes place, the most important component is the younger generation, people who will form political opinions and voting habits that, for them, may well last a lifetime.

    In  the 2012 election, 19% of the electorate was composed of young people 18-29.That’s a larger percentage than either Latinos (10%) or African-Americans (15%). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to add up those three groups. That means 44% of the electorate voted for the President with at least 60% of the vote. Add in the gender gap (12%), while remembering that women make up the majority of voters, and there is a bleak future for the GOP if it doesn’t radically re-invent itself. White men can’t win elections for them any longer.

    Matthew Segal, president of the younger generation advocacy group Our Time, points out that it may be a very good thing to have that generation exert a bigger influence in elections. He says that younger Americans are “pragmatic,” having moved past some of the “ridiculous political discourse going on today.”

    “Growing up in a technological era, we trust science and data. Denying climate change, denying facts about abortion, denying the Bureau of Labor Statistics defies logic,” Segal said. “Part of pragmatism is also compromise, and we reject ideologues who would risk our nation’s credit rating to make a political point.”

    If the Republican Party cannot divorce itself from the insanity of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Fox News and the racists hiding in its midst, it risks losing the majority of the next generation. As a proud Democrat, I am heartened by the prospect of a generation lost to the Republican Party. As an American, however, I want more than one party able to compete for influence and for governance because that competition will produce a healthier democracy.

    If the GOP wants to self-destruct and follow the Whig Party into oblivion, so be it. Another political force will fill the vacuum. It’s up to them.    

    • Teddy Goodson

      That is, pundits, Republicans, and (most importantly) most pollsters, were positive young people would not “come out” or get involved in 2012 anywhere near the same degree that they did in 2008. The expectation was much the same for Latinos; African-Americans were supposed to be “disappointed” in what Obama had done for them, and, besides, voter ID and other suppression efforts were expected to cut down sharply on minority voting. While there might have been a tiny kernel of truth in these expectations, it was very, very tiny, and had limited effect by the time the election rolled around.

      That the coalition held together and increased since 2008 gives an indication it will be permanent—- if Obama works at it. He (and the Democrats) cannot bargain away the issues and concerns of that coalition (including unions, women, and seniors) while trying to reach some Grand Bargain with intransigent Republicans, and he must throw some significant bones to each element of the coalition, or it will not hold together.  

    • Burgesses1619

      The 19% of the electorate that were young people between 18 and 29 included Latinos/Hispanics and African-Americans, so the total of all three groups is not 44% but something a good bit lower. Of whatever the real total is, a majority of them are probably female, as you mention.

      That said, it is encouraging that the number of younger voters may be increasing. Hopefully, this will have an impact on wages, employment, and working conditions, all of which are being suppressed by the 1% and corporate special interests at the expense of the American people.