Reality Bites

While Republican disdain for pointy-headed academics and the so-called liberal media does not represent a particularly new political phenomena, this trend has grown to manifested a remarkable disavowal of reality itself. Watch here as McCain spokesman Nancy Pfotenhauer asserts, even after given an opportunity to backpedal, that liberal leaning Northern Virgina is not “real” Virginia.

This argument would be less remarkable if it existed in isolation, but sadly for the GOP, actual reality is disinclined to acquiesce. Just the other day, Sarah Palin described small towns as “real America.” One can only assume Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), who in spilling a bucket of crazy on Hardball called for a media investigation of the anti-American attitudes of libebral Congressional leaders, was referring to politics inimical to those of “real America.” And most pointedly, John McCain has made the invocation of “who is the real Barack Obama” central to his election efforts.

Of course, this selective reality is noteworthy for more than its novelty or simple existence; unlike the efforts of philosophers ranging from Aristotle to Lao Tzu, the constraints of “small towniness” offer candid insight to the Republican vision of America. Nate Silver runs the analysis:

I looked at the racial composition of voting-age (18+) population in these 44 cities as according to the 2000 census.** They are, on average, 83.3 percent non-Hispanic white, 7.5 percent black, 5.2 percent Hispanic, and 4.0 percent “other”. By comparison, the US 18+ population in 2000 was 72.0 percent white, 11.2 percent black, 11.0 percent Hispanic, and 5.9 percent other. Thirty-four of Palin’s 44 cities were whiter than the US average.

The revelation that “real America” is comprised mostly of whites is hardly surprising, but illustrates a serious, long-term problem for the Republicans that exists independently of George W. Bush’s disastrous presidency. That is, demographic trends point to the increasing marginality of “real America.” By 2042, America will no longer be a majority White country. Roughly 80 percent of Americans live in cities or their suburbs and research suggests that increased population density correlates with liberal partisanship. Finally, if the government adopts more environmentally friendly policies that encourage greater population density, the GOP’s problem will be even further exacerbated.

Fortunately for the GOP however, the electoral college still dictates who wins the presidency and general unpopularity is not enough to guarantee electoral failure. Still, there’s no question that more mainstream adoption of liberal ideas presents an intractable structural battle for the Republicans. Even in the short term, GOP denial can be seen in the 3.1 million fake Americans who contributed to Barack Obama’s mindboggling $150 million September fundraising effort. Indeed, reality is not a pretty picture.

A word of advice to Republican strategists: acceptance is the first stage of recovery.

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