The Importance of Texas

Yes Virginia, there are liberals in Texas, and not just in Austin. 

Quick question (and don’t look it up on Wiki) – what percentage of Texas voted for Barack Obama in 2008? Given that Texas is often seen as the “role model for red states”, it may surprise many to know that four years ago, Obama won nearly 44% of the vote. While Obama’s numbers declined by about 2% in 2012, this level of support still shows a state that is much more complicated than the caricature that it is often presented as. Convincing a small percentage of the state to turn blue can change the country for decades.

Let’s not kid ourselves – Texas is most certainly a conservative state. But even in the most ideologically extreme states, at least a third of the electorate goes against the prevailing wind. When we say that a state is really red, that just means that the state isn’t a tossup in the election. A shift of a few percentage points can change all of that. In Texas, the margin of difference is small enough to flip the state, or at least color it purple.

Texas is the second largest state in the country and has 38 electoral votes – almost 20% of Romney’s electoral vote haul. If a big blue state like New York flipped, it would be a big deal too. But electorally speaking, New York is much bluer than Texas is red (Romney won only 36% of vote there) and more importantly, the demographic trends do not bode well for future Republican gains.

Texas on the other hand is at the heart of one of the most dramatic demographic shifts in our nation’s history. I hate breaking things down in terms of white and non-white, but for what it’s worth, much of the country votes that way. As Texas becomes more racially and ethnically diverse, the greater the likelihood of a flip.

I doubt any monumental shifts will occur by 2016, but beyond that, it’s certainly a possibility. It would be foolish for Democrats to ignore Texas, and it would even more foolish for Republicans to take it for granted. With Texas, Dems are more or less guaranteed Presidential victory; without it, Republicans are guaranteed defeat. There are plenty of skeptics, but for the first time in more than a generation, Texas is being viewed as a real battleground for national elections.

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Why Obama Won

All the conservative talking points about demographics are an excuse for not coming to terms with being out of touch.

Republicans have been doing a lot of soul searching following Tuesday’s election and have come up with various explanations as to why their candidate lost. The consensus for now is that the country is changing and that the party is out of step with this change.

Rather than meet this change in a responsible and realistic manner, so many prominent conservatives have resorted to lamenting the passing of a golden era, the death of “real America”. The most common statement thus far been “Obama only won because of demographics” which is a lot like saying “I only failed the math test because of numbers”. Similarly heard is “Obama only won because of the Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, women and urban residents”. Conservatives are pretending that these people are nothing more than special interest groups – as if they don’t already constitute a vast majority of the country.

In other words, when a Republican wins an election, it’s because the country as a whole voted for him – end of story. When a Democrat wins, a black man at that, the electorate is dissected so as to lay blame on those pesky minorities and women.

It should come as no surprise that the Republican establishment is mourning the end of an era in which White men ran the show. Personally, I think this is premature because White men still overwhelmingly run the shows that matter. But still, the times they are a changin.

Here is my favorite excuse from the aftermath. 

You heard it, but have a closer read. “It’s a changing country. The demographics are changing. It’s not a traditional America anymore. And there are fifty percent of the voting public who want stuff. They want things. And who is going to give them things? President Obama. He knows it and he ran on it. And whereby twenty years ago, President Obama would have been roundly defeated, by an establishment candidate like Mitt Romney. The White establishment is now the minority. And the voters, many of them, feel that the economic system is stacked against them and they want stuff. You’re gonna see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama, overwhelming Black vote for President Obama and women will probably break President Obama’s way. People feel they are entitled to things and which candidate between the two are going to give them things?”

So there you have it. White men made the country and now women and the coloreds are destroying it. Rather than thinking about ways to appeal to women and minorities, conservatives are blaming them for not seeing the light, for wanting things, for not working hard enough. The self-victimization never ends.

Jon Stewart describes the conservative resentment most accurately: “They’re really only entitlements when they’re something other people want. When it’s something you want, they’re a hallmark of a civilized society.”

White People and Obama

Obama with A LOT of white people*

Barack Obama’s ascendance to the Presidency nearly four years ago sent a signal to the world that Americans were ready to accept a non-White person as their leader. In the eyes of the world, this mostly meant that White Americans were ready to accept a non-White leader.

I have argued for years that the rest of the world considers the US to be a lot whiter than it actually is. Phrases like “he looks American” only really make sense to non-Americans, and by this logic, Obama does not “look” American.

I was surprised to find out how much of this “real” America actually supports the President. In 2008 candidate Obama garnered 41 percent of the White vote. To put that into perspective, he won nearly 44 percent of the vote in Texas and 43 percent of Mississippi.

This year, Obama’s prospects among Whites are looking much worse. The most recent polls indicate that less than 38 percent of Whites support Obama against Romney – nearly 56 percent support Romney. To put that into perspective, in 2008, 45 out of 50 states supported Obama by more than 38 percent. Continue reading “White People and Obama”

What’s an Asian (American)?

The only thing that binds Asian Americans is the common fear of disappointing our parents.

Yesterday we took a look at the demographic rise of the Asian American community. And since I took the effort to examine what a Hispanic is a few weeks ago, I thought I’d just touch upon what it means to be Asian American.

I never liked the word Asian. I suppose all racial/ethnic categories are arbitrary and invented, but Asian takes the cake for the silliest. It always seemed absurd to lump together 60% of the world’s population into one group. And as far as geography goes, Europe and Asia are obviously part of the same landmass, so why this arbitrary boundary of the Ural mountains? What do folks from Saudi Arabia and Japan have in common? Malaysia and Mongolia?

While growing up, it was easy to see solidarity and understanding within the Black, White and Hispanic communities (the “big three” as I like to call it) in my neighborhood. There were aspects of language, phenotype, and culture that kept certain kids with “their kind” and not with others. As pretty much the only Indian kid for miles, I took turns emulating and resenting each one of those groups. One day this Vietnamese kid joined our school and I decided right then that this word Asian was bullshit. The boy, I think his name was Phan, served me no purpose – the only thing we had in common was that neither of us were from the big three. Continue reading “What’s an Asian (American)?”

Here Come the Asians

“Nation, we’re getting boxed in. Mexicans do the jobs we don’t want to do, and Asians do the job we’re not able to do.” – Stephen Colbert

Just after the 2000 Census, the Hispanic/Latino community overtook the Black/African American community as the country’s largest minority community. At the time, there were just over 35 million Hispanics in the US. Following the 2010 Census, that figure has grown to over 50 million. The US has more people of Spanish speaking origin than any other country in the world other than Mexico.

As usual though, the demographic tides are turning. According to a new study put out by the Pew Research Center, in 2010, for the first time Asian immigration  (430,000 arrivals) outnumbered Hispanic immigration (370,000 arrivals). Asians currently comprise the largest stream of immigrants in the country.

Continue reading “Here Come the Asians”

If Each State in India Were its Own Country

In 2011, India began releasing the findings of its 15th national census. We already knew that the country was enormous and that it would soon overtake China as the world’s most populous. There are currently just over 1.2 billion people in India – a figure that may be too large to grasp. The following graphic from The Economist is the best representation that I have seen so far:

Imagine all of Brazil living in Oregon – welcome to Uttar Pradesh. India is more than 11 times as densely populated as the United States. It’s population is expected to level off in the middle of the century at around 1.7 billion. But for all the Malthusian fear-mongering, this is not necessarily a problem. The emerging research argues that although growth must be contained, India is currently the beneficiary of the demographic dividends of its high population.