A political canary died

Staff Columnist

There was a major battle in the ongoing culture wars on Tuesday, November 3, and liberals ended up on the losing side of the equation. The election results can be thought of as the canary that dropped dead in the Democrat’s political mine. This isn’t supposed to happen; it’s the Republicans who are out of step with 21st century America.  At least that’s what Debbie Wasserman Schultz would have us believe.

Voters rejected recreational marijuana. Designating transgender folks as another protected class was defeated in Houston, Texas. A sheriff promoting illegal-immigrant sanctuaries was defeated while gun control advocates failed to take control of the Virginia senate. Most surprisingly, at least according to the pre-election polls, a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Kentucky who ran on his opposition to gay marriage managed to win by a wide margin.

The common wisdom in political circles holds that the number of Democratic voters will continue to swell with ever increasing numbers of black, Hispanic and immigrant voters. The problem facing the Democrats, according to columnist Kevin D. Williamson, “the party [Democratic] is run by wealthy liberal white ladies: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Randi Weingarten, Bernie Sanders (honorary liberal white lady), Nancy Pelosi, etc,” and their agenda has begun to pull away from those of the minority groups.

The hard truth facing the Democratic Party is that their common resort to cultural issues may have run its course and is now a losing strategy. Tuesday’s result and the results from recent elections have not been good for Democrats and should contain a warning that they are misreading the electorate’s enthusiasm for social change.

In Ohio, a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana lost by a 30 point margin. In San Francisco, the sheriff who had defended the city’s sanctuary policy after an illegal immigrant murdered a young woman was voted out of office.

Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s gun-control group, Everytown for Gun Safety, ran hard in Virginia in an attempt to help Democrats take control of the Virginia senate. They did win won one senate seat but lost a second race and that left Republicans in control of the Virginia senate.

The Kentucky gubernatorial race turned out to be a shocker. Kentucky governors, both good and bad, have been Democrats since Moses and the Children of Israel left Egypt, or at least for a very long time. The victorious Republican candidate was a Tea Party maverick who ran on the divisive social issues that had previously bedeviled Republican candidates. His opposition to gay marriage was couched in opposition to a Supreme Court decision that forced acceptance of gay marriage on unwilling states. He then defied all political wisdom and championed Kim Davis, the county clerk who went to jail rather than issue same-sex marriage licenses.

The results in Houston can best be thought of as the deceased canary mentioned earlier. The mayor of Houston is one Annise Parker, who Kevin Williamson anointed “white lady du jour.” Mayor Parker, who herself is gay, thought it a good idea to pass an ordinance called HERO that would have criminalized preventing “pale penis people,” as Jonah Goldberg now calls white males, from using the ladies bathrooms or locker rooms. In other words, if you prevented transgender males from using female locker room facilities, the mayor could send men with guns to arrest you.

Ms. Parker, a woman of the left, doesn’t seem to believe that diversity of opinion is to be encouraged. About a year before the election the mayor subpoenaed the sermons and other communications of five ministers who opposed HERO. But, as heavy handed as that was, the subpoenas weren’t limited to sermons about the proposed ordinance. Emails, instant messages, and text messages on equal rights, civil rights, homosexuality or gender identity were also included. It was, by anyone’s definition, an attack on freedom of religion and freedom of speech. The mayor was finally forced to back down by the growing national controversy, public outrage and a whole handful of legal challenges that appeared to be on solid legal ground.

Ms. Parker’s proposed ordinance lost with 61 percent of the voting public saying no and only 39 percent in support. This should scare the hell out of someone. Houston is considered a liberal city. The Anglo population, while heavily Republican, is less than a third of the population. The black and Anglo populations that comprise two-thirds of the voting public are heavily Democratic but that didn’t prevent Ms. Parker’s ordinance from suffering a devastating defeat.

This defeat resonates far beyond the city limits of Houston, or even beyond Texas. Progressive groups nationwide donated millions of dollars in support of the proposed ordinance. Both Hillary Rodham Clinton and President Barack Obama found occasions to announce support for the Houston effort. The Houston business community, threatened with a boycott if the proposed ordinance should lose, folded up like a two-dollar lawn chair and pitched in support for the mayor and her ordinance. The only conclusion that can be drawn from the election results last Tuesday and in 2014 is that the social attitudes of non-whites who provide much of the Democrats electoral strength are very different from the liberal white women who are running the party. Black and Hispanic Americans are more and more likely to ignore pleas for transgender bathrooms but gladly give their support to school choice as the dominant issue for their family.

In short, the interests of white liberals are beginning to pull away from the urban blacks and Hispanic immigrants and that, in a nut shell, is the warning given by the Houston canary.

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4 Responses for “A political canary died”

  1. Tom Burgum says:

    Good ole Ross hit it again. Another Jack Kemp would be good for the Republicans. Houston is a liberal city by any measurement. Not as liberal as Austin but that’s a high bar to jump over. Bill G has a point about Republican problems with minorities. The question remains about whether the minorities stay with the Democrats in significantly large numbers. There hasn’t been a truly national election now in 3 years so it is hard at this moment to answer that question. Still, Democrat loses in recent state and local elections might be a warning.

  2. Ross P. Alander says:

    The GOP needs a new Jack Kemp to survive
    Ross former Republican

  3. BigJohn says:

    Republicans did well in Kentucky this time around because people in Kentucky hate Obama. Voter turnout was only around 30%, the lowest in history. Matt Bevin was a Tea Party candidate who won at a time when the Tea Party is losing favor. Tea Party candidates aren’t doing well anywhere else. What happened in Kentucky was because people can’t stand Obama and the Democrat lineup wasn’t exciting enough to get anyone to the polls but angry old white people.

    In Ohio, the reason their marijuana initiative failed is because it was a poorly written initiative that created a monopoly or oligopoly for ten rich investors who funded it. They were going to get to grow all the product and sell it. Even legalization supporters hated this and many voted against it when they would have voted for a Colorado style initiative. The other problem is that they put this thing up for vote in an off election year. Voter turnout is low when we aren’t electing a president, and this wasn’t even a mid-term election year. Predictably, voter turnout was low and skewed old and silver haired. That initiative didn’t have a chance. One more like the Colorado initiative would pass in 2016 though.

  4. BillG says:

    This is wishful thinking, Tom. Republicans are increasingly out of step with the rest of America, hardly anyone is really fighting a culture war anymore. People have their issues they are fighting for and some are doing better than others. You want to paint everything liberal or conservative, but things like marijuana legalization aren’t really one or the other. People’s age has more to do with whether they are for legalization rather than their political affiliation. It is true that Democrats are more likely than Republicans to support marijuana legalization, but support among younger Republicans isn’t so weak. A Gallup poll in October found that 58% of Americans were for it, with only 35% of seniors 65 and older supporting it, 58% of those 50 through 64 supporting it, and higher numbers of younger voters being for it with 71% of those 18 through 34 on board. Party affiliation made a difference, but on the whole younger Americans who grew up since pot use took off in this country were for it and those who came of age before that happened were opposed.

    And let’s talk about Parker’s proposed ordinance in Houston. Yes, by Texas standards Houston is a little more on the liberal side, but that’s true of all big cities. It’s not super liberal like Austin, but there are quite a few Democrats. Are they all bleeding heart liberals? Heck no. Hispanics don’t vote for Democrats because they are bleeding heart liberals, not the majority of them anyway. For the most part Hispanics are old fashioned and for the most part very religious. They’re more likely to vote for Democrats because they see Republicans as out to get them, definitely not friends to Hispanic communities. The Republican Party has done much to alienate this fast growing segment of voters and that trend isn’t likely to change anytime soon.

    Republicans are in trouble. It’s less because minorities are becoming a bigger part of the voting ranks, but because they rely so heavily on older voters. Younger voters are just not so socially conservative, and I’m not just talking about the under 30 crowd. Notice how 58% of those 50 through 64 were for legalizing marijuana in the Gallup poll in October. These are Baby Boomers, all but the 50 year olds. Each day about 10,000 Baby Boomers a day turn 65, millions a year, and over 1.5 million a year born before the boom die off. On that issue, marijuana legalization, what you will see in the coming years is that support for legalization will grow among seniors at a rate much faster than in other age groups as Boomers replace those that came before them.

    We’re seeing this dynamic in other issues too. Will people get behind a lot of expansion of privileges for transgenders? I don’t know about that. That is more of a liberal issue. With marijuana, it’s money, it’s government waste, it’s frustration with failed policies and laws and enforcement of same that stop nothing but cost us billions every year and cause all sorts of other unwanted problems. But, younger voters from Boomers on down are less socially conservative and smart Republican politicians are figuring this out and modifying their behavior accordingly. Watch what they do on marijuana. They don’t want to alienate you and others like you, so they will say they are anti-pot, think it’s really bad and legalization is a bad idea, but they believe in states rights so they won’t stand in the way of states that legalize. It’s not that believe in states rights, Tom, they don’t want to pay the political price of fighting against legalization. They see the writing on the wall. They all just tell us what they think we want to hear anyway, Republicans and Democrats. They watch the polls to know what we want to here and adjust their messages accordingly. Things are changing, Tom, whether you like it or not. Look at the big picture, or keep digging for little anomalies and calling them canaries and after a while you’ll look like Baghdad Bob in the final days of the invasion of Iraq.

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