It has become commonplace to say that America is undergoing a political realignment, as working class and rural people become more Republican and suburban and wealthier people become more Democratic.
However, it is less common to convey what that means beyond political party affiliation. The recent election gives us more data to understand what is going on, and the good news is that may give hope to those worried about America’s direction.
In previous decades, the split was between two economic philosophies — state direction versus free market. However, in the 1990s, during the Clinton presidency, it looked like the free market had won, so social issues grew more important.
From 2001 to 2007, terrorism and war were predominate concerns; but then economic issues came back in a big way after the financial crisis. However, voters’ party affiliations remained remarkably consistent despite these changes in emphasis.
By the 2016 election, however, it was apparent things were changing. Large numbers of people in distinct areas of the country switched parties. Blue-collar counties went one way, more affluent counties the other. By the 2020 election it appeared that the main division was over identity.
Voters who considered themselves American first and foremost were upset at the damage caused by globalist policies like free trade and immigration to them and their neighbors. Voters with a more cosmopolitan outlook were horrified by “children in cages” at the borders, ongoing racial injustice and the repudiation of global environmental treaties.
Thus it appeared the election choice was between hardline nationalism on the one hand and progressive radicalism on the other. The results, like the lack of a “blue wave” of Democratic votes, were surprising in many ways, indicating the issue is not so simple.
On the one hand, large numbers of Hispanic immigrants voted for the “nationalist” side, which seems counterintuitive. Meanwhile, large numbers voted for a split ticket, voting against the nationalist president but in favor of his congressional or state-level allies.
Read the full article at The Oklahoman.