There are aspects of Obama's win that haven't been mentioned in the legacy media. One of the most important is that the Romney candidacy posed a serious threat to the civil rights gains made over the last four decades. Those threats have been rebuffed and delayed, but from the tenor of this campaign, we also know that they have been stimulated and will not vanish.
The big factor emerging from this election is that the demographics are changing. Obama's biggest supporters were minorities, women and young people. They made the difference in a number of states. Former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele states that if the Republican Party is to be anything but a lost tribe wandering in the desert, it will have to face the demographic reality. He points out that 75 percent of Latinos voted for Obama, and every month 50,000 young Latinos are coming into voting age. Old white men are shrinking in numbers and are neither cognizant nor interested in who comprises the vital segment of our population.
In South Dakota, a provincially estranged mentality rules. Its demographic trend is the opposite of the nation's. The small-minded and intolerant mentality has gained dominance in recent years. It threw Tom Daschle out of office with the feckless John Thune whose major talent is to relentlessly recite party-line banalities that have no relevance to what is developing in the nation. It did the same with Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, and we have re-elected a congresswoman whose fecklessness exceeds John Thune's and who celebrates the anti-intellectual, anti-education agenda that keeps the state immobilized culturally. However, she was awarded a college degree which people who know how college education works do not think she earned. At least, not under the requirements applied to other graduates.
There is a movement in South Dakota to revitalize rural life. However, the political majority and the people who comprise it give talented young people no reason to be in South Dakota and every reason to leave. I think of the history of this blog. Eight years ago, it had four women contributing to it and editing it. They were very quick to realize that political blogs produced no intelligent and productive discussion and simply provided those given to petty, small-minded nastiness targets at which to direct efforts. They quickly left blogging and diverted their energies to more productive enterprises. However, all four the women have also left the state since that time. One of them, Erin, has been involved in a university study of blogs and says the studies reveal that blogs are to the world of communication what biker gangs such as Hell's Angels are to civilization. She said the study demonstrates that conservative-oriented blogs are devoted to cultural, racial, and political defamation and their claim to be citizen journalism is not borne out by the kind of material they actually produce.
In my own voting district, South Dakota District 3, the adherence to small-minded, uninformed life prevails with a vengeance. It rejected two legislative candidates with extensive credentials in public life for two incumbents who dutifully mumble the old party line. H. Paul Dennert is a longtime legislator, previously from District 2, who has a legendary command of taxing and fiscal matters. He was rejected in favor of Al Novstrup. On the House side, his son David was chosen over Bill Antonides, a retired conservation officer who knows the county, its people, and its resources like no one else. My district followed the Noem rule, denigrating knowledge and education and mindlessly reciting political bromides that have no relevance to anything productive and progressive. `
Obama's first term has worked toward ending a couple of pointless and resource-consuming wars, but it escalated the culture wars, which get energy from racism and a blind devotion to corporate fascism. It would be foolery to think that all the overtures for joint effort and cooperation will close the political divide or lessen the rancor. The dream of a corporate feudal state and a resurgence of Jim Crow is the cherished American dream for many on the right. It will be the subject of talk radio, regressive blogs, with agitation from cable news. Read the conservative reaction to Obama's win on the blogs and come to terms with the fact that a large political force would like to take America back to that state.
For a time, enough people saw through the bluff and bluster and menace of a boss, a CEO, and chose a professor. But in places like South Dakota which are stridently anti-education, anti-intellectual, and culturally repressive, the professor will be cause for more revilement. The liberal-leaning will have to depend on leaders from outside the state to speak for and look out for their interests. That doesn't mean that some important work cannot be done in the state to lift the rule of bigoted, old white men. Indians on the reservations still live under the conditions created by violations of treaties which are still nominally in force. We can join the forces of justice to correct that, beginning with a reasonable settlement over the Black Hills. Wounded Knee is an operating force, not a land mark of a racist past. It needs to be rectified.