The nickname is from Stephen Colbert, who has occasionally had him on as a guest on his Comedy Central show. In all the media and political verbiage being flung back and forth yesterday, he made probably the most accurate statement of why Obama won last night: “It’s not a traditional America any more…. The White Establishment is now a minority.”
While O’Reilly meant that in the most rueful way possible, it’s what I have been saying for years. The whole Conservative political movement in the United States has been driven by aging Whites, many of whom feel disenfranchised and alienated. They tend to be either rich (a small minority of them), or small businessmen who made it big at one time and are now facing an attrition of their past gains, or poor and wanting to identify with the rich. In any case, they are not young. If they have any children, there’s no guarantee that their children are either numerous or politically in step with their parents.
Even though I am White, I am part of that new America that O’Reilly decries. I am not a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP); nor am I Scotch-Irish; nor am I a member of any other demographic cohort that runs with the Right Wing. I am a White Hungarian Renegade Catholic (WHRC) with Black, Latino, and Asian sympathies.
When I used to work with census data at Urban Decision Systems some twenty years ago, I saw the handwriting on the wall for the White political establishment.
Over the next decade or so, most of the Tea Party recidivists will either die out or enter nursing homes. Those who remain will be increasingly irrelevant in the face of a demographic groundswell for those who had, until lately, been lumped together as “minorities.” In Los Angeles, it is the Whites who are in the minority. And, really, it’s not so bad as all that.
It has always been the fate of political establishments to be supplanted. Remember the Irish immigration of the 1830s and 1840s? Then it was the “Yellow Peril” when people feared being replaced by Chinese coolies who were brought in to work on the railroads. Then it was the turn of us Eastern Europeans later in the 19th and early 20th centuries as they arrived to escape political and religious persecution. Then it was the turn of the Mexicans.
Somehow, enough always remains of America to be worthwhile, even if there is a slightly darker shade of skin, an epicanthic fold about the eyes, or broken English. Hell, I didn’t even know the English language existed until I showed up in kindergarten. (That was just before the days of a TV set in every home.)
So yesterday I called it right. I thought Obama would win. And I think we all will win in the long run as a result. Don’t worry about me becoming an embittered Conservative complaining about the relentless tides of change. That’s what life is all about.