Two nations, divided under God, in the U.S.A.

The fall-out from Romney’s false and distorted view of America as two nations, almost half of whom see themselves as victims and want government hand-outs, which the other half pays for, has obscured the fact that we ARE becoming two nations.

The first nation is reasonably pragmatic, wants to find realistic solutions to our problems, and is willing to vote for Democrats or Republicans who can provide them.  The other nation is increasingly detatched from facts, and doesn’t care much about solutions, but is devoted to absolute principles and a world view that puts rich and white Americans first, and absolutely HATES everything that has to do with minorities, government, and foreigners (and now, especially Muslim foreigners).  This second nation is patriotic, religious, and increasingly concentrated in the South and the southern Plains states.

Is that unfair and too simple?  Perhaps.  After all, Louisiana and South Carolina have elected Republican governors who are not white (although they are both  Asian-Indian-American, a category still distinct from African-American and Hispanic).  And there is nothing wrong with patriotism and religion; indeed they are essential and admirable as long as they don’t blind people to basic facts.  But otherwise it is hard to explain things like the judge in Texas who wants taxes raised to provide troops to repel the United Nations forces he anticipates President Obama will send to invade Texas if he is re-elected. (I am not making this up — read the story.)   It is hard to explain why Florida’s courts have had to waste time and taxpayer money ruling on repeated challenges to President Obama’s eligibility to run for re-election on the grounds that he is not truly an American citizen.  It is hard to understand why the Republican Party would nominate a vice-presidential candidate (Paul Ryan) who is on record as opposing abortion even in cases of rape or incest, a position way out of line from mainstream America, even among most Republicans — a view that is already driving away women voters who would otherwise vote Republican on economic grounds.  It is hard to explain why the Republican Tea-Party followers in Congress won’t take action to reduce the federal deficit and cut spending by significant amounts if part of the deal includes any increases in taxes on the richest Americans.  It is hard to explain why Romney has a 40 point lead in the polls among Southern working class whites (60-22) but has a 5 point or less lead among working class whites in other regions.

The problem for Romney’s campaign is that he is increasingly pandering to this half of the nation — the rich whites and the religiously conservative, minority-and-foreigner fearing working-class whites — while he appears blatantly out of touch with ordinary working Americans of all kinds who have to manage their bills and just want practical solutions to our economic problems, not strident attacks on the President or condescending disregard for folks who are struggling.

Romney was close on the arithmetic, though, but in the wrong direction. It is more like 43% or less of the American population that is willing to vote for him on the grounds that he will favor the rich and that he is not Obama.  And since much of that 43% is concentrated in a third of the states that are solid Republican, Romney is losing ground fast in the swing states that will determine the electoral college outcome.  Already, Romney appears to have lost Pennsylvania, is running behind in Ohio and Michigan, and is weakening in Virginia.  Even if Romney wins his 43% of the national vote, he may well get swept aside in an electoral college landslide.

That is price of not understanding the reality of America’s two nations.


About jackgoldstone

Hazel Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University
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