Regression rejected: The re-election of Barack Obama. Also the end of the “WASP” hegemony?

At around 11 pm Eastern Time on election night, Tuesday, November 6, 2012, it became clear that Barack Hussein Obama, of Chicago, Illinois, the son of a Kenyan father and an American mother, would not be a one-term president. This is not quite as historic as his election into office four years ago as the first non-white President of the United States, just about forty years after the legal emancipation of African-Americans. But his re-election seems to signal the beginning of the end of a "WASP" (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) hegemony of the American electorate and in U.S. society (although Romney is a Mormon, not a Protestant, but many of his voters are).

President Barack Obama on Election Night, November 6, 2012.

It is also a rejection of the reactionary and regressive positions of the Tea Party, that wanted to take the country and its society back to a past long overcome, decades ago. This is not only due to the demographic development towards an increasingly non-“White-Anglo-Saxon Protestant” America (about 30% of the American people is now either African American, Asian American or Hispanic), but also due to the partly racist anti-minority and -immigration and cynical anti-poor social Darwinist rhetoric and ideology of the Republicans. It was this ideology which caused their (self-inflicted) defeat. The radicalization of the Republican party 2009/10 was a backlash of the defeat in 2008, when they felt that the more moderate wing that John McCain had represented, lost. This radicalization was not appreciated by the majority of Americans, at least not on the level of having a radical in the White House (they did vote a Republican majority into the House in the mid-term elections of 2010). It turned out that the above analysis of 2008 was wrong; you could say in hindsight, simply put, that it was the Vice Presidential candidate, Tea Party icon, Governor Sarah Palin, not so much Senator McCain, that lost the 2008 election, and it is the Tea Party, that lost this 2012 election (from a Republican perspective). Of course, it was also the heritage of the Bush years and a youthful and charismatic Democrat contender that made it hard for McCain/Palin 2008 as, to a lesser extent, for Romney/Ryan in 2012 (as a Republican commentator on CNN put it last night: “Obama is (still) seen as the 'cool guy'”, as against the 'uncool' Romney). But the nascent Tea Party indirectly helped Obama into office four years ago; it indirectly helped him to get re-elected now by putting forward its positions as the mainstream positions of the Republican party and its candidate (although Governor Mitt Romney did become more moderate towards the end of his campaign).

The majority of Americans were not willing to go for market fundamentalism economically (deregulate Wall Street even further), extremist conservatism (anti-Abortion) and libertarianism (for small government) socially and “fiscal darwinism” (further tax reductions for the rich), not in 2008 (after eight years of Bush) again, and not now.

In other words, they were not willing to go back to the 1920s economically, 1950s socially and the 1980s (and Bush's 2000s) fiscally. These positions, promoted by the Tea Party, who hijacked the Republicans in the last three years, were defeated last night (almost all Senate races, where Tea Party extremists ran, were lost for the Republicans).

The other significant aspect is that minorities seemingly decided this election for the second time in a row, signalling the end of WASP (white Anglo-Saxon Protestant) hegemony. The polarization between red and blue America will remain, despite the re-elected President's rhetoric in his victory speech.However, the extremist Tea party positions will have to be revised by the Republicans and they have to go back to a moderate stance, this is what they have to take as a lesson if they want to stand a chance in the future nationwide. They can not simply rely on the WASP (male) vote, but also need to look how they can garner the increasing minority (and female) votes in the next elections. In order to achieve this, they have to back off from their extremely xenophobic anti-Immigrant and -immigration rhetoric (as well as from the extreme anti-abortion stance); a more conciliatory position, maybe even an initiative for immigration reform, would help.

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