Saturday, October 25, 2008

Obama's socon problem

Yes, and it's not just Barack. The Democratic Party in general has a problem with socons. They need a big chunk of them to win elections and they want to be heard.

If progressives think the New Jerusalem is just going to come about if Barack Obama wins next Tuesday (and the Democrats increase their majority in Congress), they may be in for a shock. For among the people who will be voting for the Senator from Illinois are people who are anything but progressive. They are going to be voting for a change in atmosphere, not necessarily utopia. They will be particularly resistant on a number of policies and will let the White House and Congress know about it.

Especially on social issues ... and one of the unlikely battlegrounds for this will be California. It's not quite as monolithic liberal as some would have us believe. Large parts of the state are very conservative, in fact the OC is Ground Zero for some of the more outrageous televangelists including Benny Hinn, Hal Lindsey and Paul Crouch (and their legions of deceived followers) and they are only going to get louder with an Obama win.

And that's not the only reason.

Among the down ticket ballot items on Nov 4 in California is "Proposition 8" which would ban gay marriage in the state and define marriage as the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others.

It's a given that Obama will win the Golden State, but one thing we need to watch for on US election day is how many people in California who vote for Obama also vote yes on the proposition, even in socially liberal areas like San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. California has voted Democrat consistently for two decades and there's no reason that will change. But among Democrats and independents in California as in every other state, are in fact a large block of social conservatives who are voting Obama for economic reasons and not religious or social ones.

It's worth remembering that even though the Dems took the Senate back in 2006 when they won a narrow victory in Virginia, 1/3 of those who voted for Jim Webb also voted against gay marriage. One out of three. One can't dismiss all of them as bigots, otherwise they would have voted for George "Macaca" Allen en masse. But that margin was enough to ensure the state constitutional amendment easily passed.

So I'd keep an eye on this one next Tuesday. In particular, watch how the vote breaks down among ethnic and racial groups. The once solid "ethnic vote" for the Democrats isn't that solid anymore. It will likely cohere for the top of ticket (Obama-McCain) but fracture drastically on Prop 8.

If as expected Obama wins, and this and other similar initiatives across the US passes, the Senator from Illinois may be stymied somewhat from having an exclusively progressive administration and policies. He will almost certainly have to reach out to the block of socons to which he owed his victory, and many of the changes that need to be make in law -- including equal adoption and benefits rights for gay and lesbian couples -- may have to be delayed until sometime in a second Obama term.

Despite my personal opposition to gay marriage, I believe denying or delaying such rights would be as anti-progressive as it gets and would hope Obama has the guts to stand up to his more conservative supporters -- unlike John McCain who chickened out and chose a so-con rather than a moderate to round out his ticket. To be frank, I don't think even someone like "Yes We Can" Obama would have the courage to do that with a filibuster-proof Senate (as some in his own party share those regressive views, including Senate leader Harry Reid).

UPDATE (Sunday 8:08 am EDT, 1208 GMT): Thanks for voting this one up, fellow ProgBlogs -- but no comments? Surely you have a counterargument on this one!

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