Observing the last presidential election in the US from far away İstanbul, it seemed to me that the fact that there is not just one but two Americas became even more clearly discernable.
There appeared to be on the one hand, the US that belongs mostly to women, the young, and African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans; that is multicultural, respects difference and diversity; opposes inequality, discrimination and racism; stands for individual freedom of choice and is based where knowledge industries prevail. This is post-modern America, the America of Barack Hussein Obama, envied all over the world for its democratic credentials.
On the other hand, there appeared to be the US that belongs mostly to men, older adults and whites; that is unicultural and disrespectful of diversity; where racial prejudices are still widespread; where freedom is restricted to economic freedom and inequality is praised; and is based where traditional industries, mining and agriculture dominate. This is America stuck in the modern age, the America of Mitt Romney, abhorred all over the world for its anti-democratic and hegemonistic character.
The election was clearly a victory of the post-modern America. It was also clearly a victory against racism in America. The world may not be aware of how racism still plays an important role in the politics of the US. According to the results of a survey commissioned by The Associated Press, the number of American citizens who hold negative views of blacks has increased from 48 to 51 percent during the last four years with Obama in the White House. Among those who intended to vote Republican, 79 percent hold that view and this figure is not less than 32 percent among the Democratic Party electorate. Results of a pre-election survey conducted by the Pew Research Center indicated that 17 percent of the entire electorate, and approximately 34 percent of conservative Republican voters, believe that President Obama is a Muslim, despite the fact that he has repeatedly declared his Christian identity.
According to exit polls conducted by Edison Research, in the recent election, besides clear majorities among women (55 percent) and youth under 29 (60 percent), not less than 93 percent of African Americans, 73 percent of Asian Americans, and 71 percent of Hispanic Americans cast their votes in favor of President Obama. President Obama was right in emphasizing in his re-election speech that what makes the US exceptional is not primarily its material wealth, its strong military, or its universities and culture, but the fact that it is “the most diverse nation on Earth” and increasingly recognizes that diversity. That is the main lesson of the US for the entire world.
The likelihood of more non-white presidents being elected in the future is on the rise. It was reported last May that the number of babies born to ethnic minorities in the US surpassed whites for the first time in history. Experts believe that this is good news for the country, because had the number of white births prevailed, the population would rapidly age and the ratio of the working population would quickly decline, creating the demographic deficit that Europe and Japan suffer from.
Unless the Republican Party wakes up to these demographic and other realities in the US, and takes measures to catch up with post-modernity (abandoning uniculturalism and embracing diversity) we can expect the Democrats to prevail in American politics in decades to come. It looks as if it is high time for the Republicans to remember that Abraham Lincoln, the president who abolished slavery and recognized citizenship and voting rights for African Americans, was a Republican, despite the fact that it may have been a factor that led to his murder.
In the meantime, it is increasingly likely that the next president of the US will be a woman. It remains to be seen whether Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, believed to have resigned from her post to prepare for the 2016 elections, will be the first female president of the US.