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The Expansionist
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
 
Veepstake Nonsense. The moron-pundit class is making ridiculous noises about the possible choices for Veep by both Obama and McCain.
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Let's escape the delusional world of TV pundits and talk common sense. On July 24th, a political commentator, David Knowles of "Political Machine", said plainly that people today vote little differently from their parents. He was speaking about a new book, The American Voter Revisited, an update to a 1960 book by the same name, less the "Revisited".

Just as in 1960, American voters aren't really paying attention. Despite the 24-hour campaign coverage on the teevee and the internets, for the most part, the electorate seems to be set on auto-pilot, as Lewis-Black, detailed in an interview with the University of Michigan Press:
... do socio-economic conditions and, especially, party identification, still largely determine how Americans vote? Are voters still mostly inattentive to politics, with a rather low level of interest in politics, and very little understanding of the liberal-conservative debate raging at the elite level? The answer to these questions, perhaps surprisingly, is "yes." In other words, the typical American voter follows pretty much the same cues as he or she did fifty years ago.
Jay Leno's "Jaywalking" segment this week concerned politics. In introducing his comic person-on-the-street interviews, he said that only 69% of Americans can name the sitting Vice President. The interviews then confirmed that there actually are Americans who cannot name the V.P. In the last interview of that segment, he turned the question around at the end, to ask if the young woman knew who Dick Cheney was. She did not immediately say, in "Oh! Of course!" fashion, he's the Vice President. She paused a moment and then guessed, quizzically, Vice President.
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But people keep talking nonsense that this election will be different, and somehow everything will change. White people with deep racial suspicions and animosities all over the South and in white suburbs surrounding black inner cities will suddenly change their spots and vote for BaLack Obama. Sure they will, or my name isn't Orville Reddenbacher. Oh, wait. My name ISN'T Orville Reddenbacher but Craig Schoonmaker. And I'm telling you what the chattering class won't: unless John McCain makes an appallingly stupid choice for V.P., there is no way in hell that a black man will be elected President in 2008.
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A natural extension of the commentary that Americans vote much as their parents did is discussed in another recent book, The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart by Bill Bishop, is that what matters most to many people is identification, and interaction, with their own group. Bishop was on Comedy Central's Daily Show tonite. During his interview by Jon Stewart, Bishop said that it doesn't matter how many sources of news and information people may be presented with. Be it two newspapers or 40 news channels and Internet news sources, most people will heed just a few — those that agree with their preconceptions — and disregard all others.
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I moved to a predominantly black, middle-class neighborhood in Newark eight years ago. I bought my house from an elderly Italian man whose wife had died and whose son, who lived in the suburbs, wanted him to move closer to his family. Across the street lived an elderly Italian couple. Two doors down was another elderly white couple. Another white family lived on the corner to the north; and another a few hundred feet farther north.
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The husband across the street died, and his widow sold the house to a Liberian family. The family on the corner sold to a black family. The people a few hundred feet farther on sold to another black family. The house two doors from me may still be vacant. I know of one other white family, an elderly couple, on my block. Two newly constructed houses several doors down, and two more at the opposite corner to the south, have been bought by black people. My neighborhood is becoming blacker over time, not more diverse. These are all middle-class people, and our values are thus pretty much identical, so I don't care. But I had hoped that my area, and Newark more generally, would become more mixed rather than more segregated over time. It's not.
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So where does this leave us? Neighborhoods segregated by race, neighborhoods segregated by worldview or lifestyle, doesn't much matter — they're all still segregated. And people's minds aren't growing but becoming more set in their ways, more confirmed in their attitudes — "prejudices", if you prefer — with each passing year.
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Jon Stewart objected, hasn't this always been the case, that people have always formed their own communities, of people like themselves, and largely apart from people unlike themselves? Quite so, Bishop readily conceded, but whereas after a period of self-segregation, ghettos of Italians or Chinese tended to break up and the kids move out into the wider community, there appears now to be less inclination to do that. In my area, for instance, the very large Jewish community of southern Newark moved, practically lock, stock, and barrel, to the suburbs within twenty years, many to a single suburb, 10 or more miles from "the old neighborhood", a town called Livingston, which is now half Jewish. Newark is left with almost no resident Jews at all. The 43 synagogs in the Weequahic section have all been converted to other uses, some as churches. The Jewish Sheltering Home (an orphanage), is now a masjid (mosque).
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Even when there is no geographic separation, as in online communities, there is self-segregation of individuals into congenial, like-minded groups that speak pretty much only to themselves and ignore most people outside their group. Such self-absorption amounts to more than pursuit of shared interests. It constitutes self-separation OUT of the larger society, so that society becomes more and more a patchwork quilt rather than melting pot.
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We can overstate this case. Some unifying features continue to maintain a modicum of social cohesion. For instance, the English language obliterates all immigrant languages in short order, and kids born here almost all prefer English to their parents' language(s) in speaking among themselves. They CAN, thus, speak to people outside their group. How often they choose to, however, varies.
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A given individual may identify with more than one group, which groups differ in some particular. For instance, Hispanic Catholics may attend the same church as Catholics of other nationalities, languages, and cultures. But even the churches tend to have separate services for different language groups, so are less the unifying and acculturating force they once were.
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Jay Leno said tonite that Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City, claims that 2 million New Yorkers cannot speak English. I suspect that those people are relatively recent arrivals, since even adults nowadays tend to learn English, because they have English-language TV in the home, an instructive linguistic presence that immigrants of old did not have.
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Implicit in valuing one's own culture is rejecting other people's cultures. And political views.
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Apply this to the Veepstakes. Mitt Romney was trounced in the primaries, despite spending millions of dollars from his own fortune, because he is a Mormon, and mainline Christian denominations do not trust Mormons but regard them as bizarre heretics, comprising a dangerous cult. Any economic expertise Romney might bring to the McCain campaign would be massively overmatched by the anti-Mormon feeling (or bigoty, if you prefer) that such a choice would incite.
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One of the names being floated for Obama's Veep is Evan Bayh, the junior Senator from Indiana. Bayh is 55 years old, less than 6 years older than Obama, a man perceived by many as being too young to be President. Bayh is also from an adjoining — Northern — state! That's balanced.
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Another name is Timothy Kaine, Governor of Virginia. The pretense is that Kaine could put Virginia "in play", and possibly even deliver it to the Democrats. Sure he could. Virginia. Capital of the Confederacy. Slave state. A state split in two by the Civil War, with its western counties seceding to stay loyal to the Union when it attempted to secede from the Union. Virginia. Site of years of fierce fiting over Petersburg and then Richmond. Sure. Yes, of COURSE Virginia is going to elect a BLACK MAN. Of course.
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Another possible Obama choice, we are told, is Kathleen Sebelius, the 60-year-old Governor of Kansas. Did I mention she's a woman? Ah, Geraldine Ferraro Redux! The Democrats don't believe that Americans are traditionalists. No, we're all Radical Feminists now. If Obama dies in a plane crash or thru assassination by a rabid racist, we will gladly see him replaced by a WOMAN. Of course we will. Has the Democratic Party ever been in touch with reality? Would it even recognize reality if somebody put it on a table before them?
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In 1984, the brave moron Walter Mondale, who considered not just Geraldine Ferraro (a Catholic) but also Dianne Feinstein (a Jewess) and Henry Cisneros (Latino) as Veep, won only the District of Columbia and his home state of Minnesota — the latter by only 3,800 votes! All 49 of the other states voted against him.
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Oh, but that was then. This is now, and everything is different. Except that The American Voter Revisited says NOTHING is different. For the most part, we vote as our parents voted, we believe what our parents believed, we cleave to our group — race, religion, ideology, class; whatever matters to us most at heart — and vote according to what we think our group will do.
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Will Obama-Anybody do any better than Mondale-Ferraro? Will they do worse? Will Virginia, THE CAPITAL OF THE CONFEDERACY, go Democratic if the governor is on the ticket? I don't believe it.
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The only Democrats who have won the Presidency since Kennedy died have been from the SOUTH. Will two Northerners, from adjoining Midwestern states, break thru Southern clannishness and ideological solidarity? I don't believe it.
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But you've GOT to believe, even when it is IMPOSSIBLE to believe the ridiculous things the Democrats want us to believe. A Southerner, Al Gore, won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote. A Northerner, John Kerry, even tho paired with a Southerner, lost by FOUR MILLION votes. But a BLACK Northerner is going to WIN by a LANDSLIDE because the Nation is ready for CHANGE. Sure he is. If George Bush were running again, maybe Obama could win on a campaign of change. But John McCain IS a change from George Bush. And John McCain is WHITE. The United States is 80% white, and one of the most conservative / Rightwing countries on Earth.
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The pundits say that "this race is Obama's to lose". Nonsense. It's McCain's to lose. And the only way he could possibly lose is if he makes an astoundingly absurd choice for Veep. If he were to choose Condoleeza Rice (a black woman) — or any other woman — he might lose. Might. If he were to choose a black man as running mate, he might conceivably lose, but probably not. If McCain were to choose a Mormon, or a Fundamentalist who has proclaimed that he doesn't believe in evolution (Huckabee), he might lose. But probably not.
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CNN spent all of last week proving how much race matters in the United States of 2008. But this week we are to believe that everything has changed. No, it really hasn't.
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I'll tell you something else that you probably won't hear from anyone else: a lot of voters will vote against Barack Obama because he's SKINNY. This is a fat country. We don't like skinny people. Barack Obama looks like a matchstick next to normal people: that is, weak, puny, useless. We don't want a weakling in the White House. And we most especially don't want somebody we suspect will lecture us about our weight.
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Moreover, Obama pronounces "either" with a long-I, a pronunciation widely regarded as snobbish and snotty, elitist and offensive.
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If you think little, subconscious things like this play no role in political choices, guess again.
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Does a choice of Veep play any role in a Presidential election? In ordinary times, perhaps a little, but not much. These are not ordinary times. John McCain is so old that a lot of people think he wouldn't make it thru a four-year term, but might die or become disabled due to natural causes (a heart attack, embolism, stroke, or cancer; he did, after all, have a bit of skin removed surgically this very week). So whom he selects as running mate might indeed make a difference. Whom Obama chooses is a matter of no importance. The people who won't vote for a black man are not going to be persuaded to do so by any running mate Obama might choose. But whom McCain chooses could matter. I wish they'd just get on with it and let us know the fite card. As soon as we know who's fiting, we will know the winner.
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(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 4,124 — for Israel.)

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