Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Evolving Electorate

Have you ever seen an upside down Christmas tree?  At first the tree looks interesting. But, the longer you look at it, the stranger it looks.  You twist your head considering another angle.  And eventually you have to look away because it just looks wrong....all wrong.  This morning as you listened to the news coverage of the New Hampshire primary you heard almost the exact same sentiment - the results - especially in the GOP - seem wrong.  The fact that a bully could win the GOP New Hampshire primary is mystifying.  The reality that a man that lacking in polish would win over a Democratic party machine like Hillary Clinton is beyond comprehension. Everything appears to be upside down.  

The results last evening, appear to be a reflection of the changes we are going through as a nation. Change is messy and can feel at times upside down and it can take a long time adapt.  The electorate is evolving and the old platforms no longer fit.  In fact when applied, they fail miserably.  The current elected officials and those who intend to be elected need to adapt if they truly want to meet the people where they are.  Here are some changes that I see.

Women Are More Than Reproductive Beings
Running on the platform of protecting a women's reproductive rights is no longer a big selling point.  Yes, recently Planned Parenthood faced an increasingly high level of scrutiny.  And yes, in the next presidential term there will most likely be Supreme Court openings to fill.  But this is not an issue that you can build your campaign on.  Younger women have never lived in a world where abortion wasn't an option.  And just like their slightly older counterparts, they don't see anything changing in that regard.  This generation of women have political concerns and interests that go beyond their own bodies and they are simply feeling ignored.

Historical Significance
The historical significance of voting for the first woman president is not enough to fuel voters to choose Hillary Clinton.  In fact, for those voters who voted for President Obama and find themselves disillusioned with his presidency will not vote for another historically significant candidate if they can't deliver.  And last but not least, do not shame women into voting for you. Men have been shaming women for centuries to serve their end.  Shame on the woman that does that to other women.  

Evangelical Compromise
Several weeks ago, when Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsed Donald J. Trump it became clear that a segment of the Evangelical Christian community was finally shifting.  For several presidential election cycles they abandoned solid candidates because they weren't Christian enough.  Now, they realize that their lack of support has brought about significant political and cultural changes that run against everything they value.  Now, they are willing to overlook some evils for what they perceive, as for the greater good.  This weeks evil, the Donald Trump potty mouth.

The New Democratic Establishment
The best way to get your cause noticed and advocated for is to ensure that it remains marginalized.  For decades the cause of pro-choice, gay rights, equality, affirmative action, etc have been issues that have the that never had majority buy-in.  The Democrats have had these as their core of their social concerns.  However, I don't they were ever ready for an alternate universe where the gains that they have made now put some of these issues in the majority.  They need to dig deeper on how appeal to the LGBT community.  Hillary Clinton's inability to recognize that these issues are no longer in the shadows but in the light of day was at the core of that silly "establishment" spat.  Bernie Sanders was able to see the gains and call the as they are.  

'Hard Working Socialism
There is a perception that if you are for social programs, you are merely looking for a handout and not a hand up.  There is a movement now, that is shedding light on a social program system that is rigged to keep the working poor from climbing out of the hole they are in.  There are now strong voices speaking for the voiceless.  They are unashamed to say, "I Am Poor" "I need help." "I want to contribute."  They are no longer in the shadows and are finding a safe place to voice their concerns and will be a considerable voting block this time around.  And they won't be bundled in with those that are generational welfare recipients who rigged the system for themselves.  They want to pursue the American Dream.  

No More Coronations 
Throughout most of 2015 the ascension of Hillary Clinton to the throne of Democratic Presidential Candidate seemed inevitable.  Once Jeb Bush threw his hat in the ring, the same presumption was made.  But as we have seen they have both struggled.  Family political dynasties are no longer acceptable. In fact they almost appear to be a deterrent.  Both Jeb and Hillary have found it difficult to shake off the family baggage and propel forward.  

Now, what hasn't changed is what the electorate has always wanted.....

This is why Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton last evening and came mighty close to beating her in Iowa.  He casts a vision that voters can get behind. As opposed to the shame that Hillary Clinton served up, trying to kick women in their collective behinds.

American Superiority
After 8 years of what some has characterized as a Presidential Apology tour, voters are hungering to be back on top again.  They don't like the fact that we are in debt to China, or that so many jobs are being sent out of the country. They are buying long and hard into the "Make America Great Again" motto.  

The need for equality is no longer just limited to the gender pay gap. It extends to equal opportunity and equal taxation.  There is a revolt against classicism.  People want treated equally and fairly by law enforcement.  The need for equality is at the heart of so much of our national discord.  

As we move forward even deeper into the Presidential primary season, these candidates need to re-calibrate and become reacquainted with the electorate.  They need to throw their cookie cutters away and have conversations with the voters that drag themselves to every townhall meeting. Hear them, offer them real solutions, try to be honest for a change, and give them something to believe in.