Traditional white male chauvinism was crushed in Tuesday’s election by women, youth, gays, racial and ethnic minorities and their admirers. It marked an historic inflection point in the shift of the national ethos away from the days of the scarcely-challenged authority of angry, bullying, stupid white males to those who have for so many years been their victims.
The election was, as one pundit emphasized, a “backlash against the backlash.” After the improbable in 2008, when America elected its first African-American president, there was a fierce backlash in the population that led to the formation of the Tea Party which routinely backed the election to local, state and national offices of radically-obsessed stupid white males intent on putting women, youth, gays and minorities in their place.
When the impact of this began to manifest, such as last spring when in Virginia the legislature passed one of the most outrageous anti-woman laws – requiring intrusive ultrasound procedures for any woman seeking an abortion – a sharp wake-up call sounded to all fair-minded people nationwide.
White male chauvinism’s post-2008 resurgence began being revealed for what it truly was. Beneath the surface it had little to do, really, with fiscal responsibility or the size of government (after all, it had just supported a president for eight years in George W. Bush who paid no attention to such matters).
No, the fierce level of anger and hatred that animated the predominantly red-state reaction against Obama and his initiatives, such as health care reform, reflected an eruption of raw and degraded bigotry, cynically encouraged by the super-rich and their political puppets.
The nation fell for the backlash’s superficial cover story in the 2010 mid-term elections, revved into a frenzy about the ills of big government and fears about the allegedly mysterious origins and beliefs of a president who was not like them.
But then, just as things were going their way, the stupid white males started saying what they really think. Some GOP leaders began recoiling in horror such that, by signing the ultrasound bill, Virginia Governor McDonnell was, overnight, removed from the short list of potential GOP vice presidential choices.
It was too late. Over-the-top stupid white males started talking about so-called “Personhood” legislation, outlawing contraception, and the infamous comments by Missouri’s Todd Akin and Indiana’s Richard Mourdock, about the virtues of rape in the eyes of God, brought it all out in the open.
These were not slip-ups by these white men, they were revelations of their true beliefs.
It is worth considering that had fair-minded people in the nation not been so rudely awakened by these outrageous revelations, momentum for President Obama’s re-election might have been much harder to engineer, and pro-gay marriage legislation might have been much harder, if not impossible, to achieve.
For Hispanics, as well, the thuggery implied in the anti-woman prejudices of these white males helped galvanize their overwhelming majority for the president.
It helped that Obama came on as forcefully as he did in the last months of his re-election campaign, fully embracing same-sex marriage and administering the means for young immigrants to remain in the U.S. By not shying away from a resolve to have the Bush tax cuts to expire for the rich, he emboldened the “beautiful tapestry of diversity” that represented his voter constituency in Tuesday’s election.
In this groundswell of momentum for fairness, against white male chauvinist excess, after 30 previous failed attempts at the state level, same-sex marriage measures were passed by popular vote in four states. The first-ever openly-gay citizen, Tammy Baldwin, was elected to the U.S. Senate. It was the single biggest day of victory for equal and full same-sex rights in U.S. history.
Moreover, a record 20 women will be serving in the U.S. Senate, including Elizabeth Warren by way of a monumental upset of a sitting white male in Massachusetts. And, of course, Akin and Mourdock, were both soundly thumped after earlier being ahead in the polls, one by a woman.
Going forward now, there’s no hope for the GOP unless it can throw off the strangehold of white male chauvinism that persists at its very soul.