“Americans will vote against their own best interests.”
These days, we hear that often enough. It has certainly been true in recent elections as Republicans cornered the House and now seem poised to close on the Senate.
Statistics tell a different story, however. In 2008, only 64% of eligible voters cast ballots. Almost one in four eligible individuals is not even registered to vote, and these are overwhelmingly represented by minorities and the poor.
Gerrymandering and voter restrictions seem the only means by which Republicans can maintain their relevance in national office, but the impact of this false majority is destined to be overwhelmed by the forces of attrition.
Demographics are rapidly shifting in the U.S., turning ethnic minorities into what will comprise the actual majority of the future.
Sooner or later short-sighted Republicans will regret their callous disinterest in that looming majority. With income inequality at an all-time high for us, American tolerance for crushing capitalism and gross injustice is wearing thin.
The Occupy movement was one sign that we are reaching that tipping point. The rise of populist Independent Bernie Sanders to national prominence is another.
Last night in St. Albans, at a rally for his Democratic allies, the man most people feel comfortable addressing simply as “Bernie” demonstrated once again the electricity he is capable of generating even in a long familiar crowd.
It never ceases to amaze me that his delivery is pitch perfect and his message evergreen.
Despite years now passed amid the gridlock of Congress, Bernie has somehow held on to his passion. His outrage still sounds genuine, lacking the dog whistle tin which damages so many politicians when they enter the arena of skeptics.
He is a man speaking directly to the demographics of tomorrow, reminding them of what “America” once was and could be once again.
If, as now seems more and more likely, the junior senator from Vermont acquiesces to the urging of his widely spread admirers and runs for President, he will be a force with which to reckon.
His presence in the mix will demand attention to issues like climate change, income inequity and social injustice, which barely caught a glance in the 2012 election cycle.
I’m predicting right now that cartoonists will render him as a burly Don Quixote with a razor sharp lance.
It will be most fitting.