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Ashish's Niti

Niti in Sanskrit means policy/strategy/vision. This blog hosts my political views, along with news and commentary. This blog has moved here.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

From Lincoln to Bush

One of the best analysis I have seen of US election results is by Swami Aiyar:
From Lincoln to Bush

Not only do they control both Houses and the White House, the Republicans also hold 28 state governorships against 21 for the Democrats. Truly, the Republicans have displaced the Democrats as the natural party of rule. Why? The main reasons are:

Trade unions, traditional Democratic supporters, have collapsed in numbers and clout as the US has changed from an industrial to a service economy.

The population is shifting steadily from the north-east (traditionally Democratic) to the sun-belt of the South (Republican, with the exception of California). No less than 27 electoral votes have shifted to the sun-belt since 1988. Many of those moving South are white retirees, who typically vote Republican.

Hispanics from central America are helping swell the population of the South, and were once regarded as potential Democrats. But they are also traditional Catholics, who appreciate the Republican stress on Christian, anti-abortion and family values.

Civil rights has traditionally been a vote-winner for Democrats, as they championed various minorities. But the latest civil rights issue, championing gay marriage, has proved a serious vote-loser, especially among Catholic Hispanics.

The politics of envy has changed. US voters like tax cuts even if they benefit the rich disproportionately. Inequalities grew under Reagan and Bush, yet both were re-elected. Americans are aspirational, not egalitarian.

However, the biggest overarching reason of all may be that Southerners have finally overcome their Civil War hangover, and stopped voting against Abraham Lincoln. The white South has always been conservative. But for a century after the Civil War (1861-65), the South saw itself as battling the hated Republican hordes of Lincoln. And so, the white South voted for Democrats, notwithstanding its right-wing (and racist) values.

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