Voting population getting smarter – Opinion – The Bulletin – Norwich, CT – Norwich Bulletin

Posted: February 9, 2020 at 2:47 am

By Scott Deshefy

Beehives and ant colonies are favorite metaphors for human collaboration. Living in this Age of Insects, where ants, termites, bees and wasps comprise 33 percent of animal biomass in deserts and tropical rain forests, their mastery of the planet cant be ignored. Even Shakespeare, through his sycophant archbishop in Henry V, described bee societies as benevolent dictatorships. More accurately, theyre six-legged democracies in which harmony prevails over selfishness, unity over segregation and needs of the many over solitary gain. In fact, the kinds of divisions which threaten us today are unparalleled in the rest of the animal kingdom. Rather than solve problems and avoid crises engendered by their own making, democrats and republicans have created a political sphere expressly devoted to attainment of power and obstructionist bents. When either Democrats or Republicans gain advantage over the other, its usually preceded by demographic changes to which one party adapts and the other objects. Today, as in the past, divergent approaches to changing populations mean intensified animosity, national conflict and significant alterations to political landscapes.

In 1856, prodded by an ambitious spouse, John C. Fremont became the first Republican candidate for U.S. president. Fremont courted fame charting previously explored regions of the West and chronicling his travels. The only time in U.S. history that a political party denied an incumbent President a second nomination, Democrat Franklin Pierce had been widely unpopular due to bloodshed in the Kansas Territory. James Buchanan, who avoided divisive arguments over the Kansas-Nebraska Act while serving overseas as Ambassador to the UK, defeated Pierce in the nominating convention, then Fremont for the Presidency. Fremont decried expanding slavery. Buchanan insisted a Republican in the White House would lead to civil war. The latter strategy won a plurality of the popular votes and electoral vote majority, but the margin of Buchanans victory was closer than it appeared. Had the Know Nothing Partys Millard Fillmore, running on anti-immigration and anti-Catholic stances, won pairings of Kentucky, Tennessee, or Louisiana, the election would have swung to Fremont. Because Republicans had zero backing in the South, closeness of the election proved what southerners already feared. Future presidencies could be won by northern voters alone, assuring agricultural tariffs punitive to the South. Urban and industrial centers in the North, heavily populated with immigrants, far outnumbered voting blocks south of the Mason-Dixon. Ultimately, this demographic disparity between Democrats in the South and abolitionist Republicans in the North instigated secession.

Although conservatives changed parties, todays political battleground is no less bitter than pre-Civil War. This time its the GOP-Trump coalition, strong in Midwestern and southern states, thats doomed to attrition. Global warming and foreign interventionism, to which white Americans contributed the most for 150 years, has pushed climate refugees and other immigrants to our shores in record numbers. Accompanying the rise of communities of color and sharpening educational divides, age-dependent distinctions in voting behavior are readily apparent. The U.S. voting population is getting smarter, younger and more progressive, resisting the military gluttony thats responsible for emaciating the environment, healthcare, renewable energy, disease control and infrastructure. The GOP cant wait for another demographic mind-bending if it hopes to survive. Relevance means adaptation. Whites without college educations are a shrinking commodity, narrowing conservatives reliance on Electoral College gerrymandering to offset losses in the popular vote.

Scott Deshefy is two-time Green Party congressional candidate.

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Voting population getting smarter - Opinion - The Bulletin - Norwich, CT - Norwich Bulletin

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