Wednesday, November 7, 2012

In Which Nick Talks About Politics

Fair warning: what is about to follow is little more than an unsubstantiated and undirected discourse, fueled by unabashed partisanship and proliferous naivety.

We won.

But hold on, I'm not talking about the presidency. The victories I'm talking about are in the margins; behind the scenes, where they can easily be missed. The election is a giant box of circuitry, a complex interactions of millions of parts, which at the end of the first Tuesday in November every four years outputs a "0" or a "1". A "D" or an "R". But I'm more interested in what's going on inside.

The first game changer that this election brought about was Nate Silver. For those who don't know, Nate Silver is a statistician, New York Times columnist, and speculatively a witch who has been forecasting elections with frightening accuracy. But despite the jokes about sorcery, what Nate Silver is doing is actually removing the smoke and mirrors from politics. In predicting the election almost perfectly, he dispelled the myth that elections are governed by some indefinable "will of the people" or the mysterious power of "momentum." Elections all boil down to numbers that we can study and understand. I'm hoping that (and here's where the naivety comes in) we are going to see this sports-style punditry fall away, and replace it with a new kind of political commentary. One that focuses on facts.

The second thing is diversity. We are finally, finally, in the year 2012, starting to see the house and the senate get just a teensy bit more diverse. Wisconsin elected the nation's first openly gay senator. Hawaii brought in the nation's first Asian American woman. On top of that, this senate session will have a record number (20) of women serving.

And then the last thing, and this is really where the naivety comes in, is a demographic shift the nature of which has never been seen before. Mitt Romney won seniors. All of them, everywhere. And whites. And men. But we're finally getting to the point where the woman vote is just as important as the man vote; where the black vote is just as important as the white vote; and where the young vote will be the deciding factor of the future of our country.

In Colorado, they voted to legalize marijuana. Seniors opposed the measure by a 2-to-1 margin, but it still passed. The same happened in Washington. Maine and Maryland voted to legalize gay marriage. And many of these measures had been attempted before in these same states. The fact of the matter is that the median voter is not the same person that he or she was 10 or even 4 years ago. The millenium generation has arrived, and they are socially liberal. If I'm right about this, then this trend (despite fluctuations) will continue to develop for the rest of our lifetimes.

Maybe I'm still just high on the knowledge that my candidate won; but I'm excited about the future.