November 7, 2012
What’s fascinating about presidential elections—perhaps more than any other event—is the way that intelligent people can view the same set of facts and see totally different things. Not a day has passed since Barack Obama’s re-election, and already the pundits are out in force.
Some say Obama’s diverse “rainbow coalition” marks the demographic transformation of America, where aging white men make up an increasingly smaller share of the electorate. Others say it is about wedge issues, like immigration, that appeal to key interest groups like Hispanics. Still others say it is about class warfare, between the haves (who built America) and the have nots (who want their piece of the pie).
These perspectives all share something in common: they view American politics as a war between competing factions, which is of course what our founders expected. Geeks can dust off their copies of The Federalist Papers, No. 10, for a reminder.
But there’s something else, which I think the pundits are largely missing. There is a bigger, underlying force at work. And that is the realization, among an increasing number of Americans, that diversity is not just good politics. It is, in fact, good economics. It seems that Obama’s ability to tap into that emerging worldview, at least in large part, helped build his electoral coalition last night.