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Small Dip Seen In Unemployment Numbers, First Drop Since January
As has been widely reported, the face of the American electorate is changing. This has never been so well exemplified as it was on November 6, 2012, when a majority of Democrats across the country and across the broad spectrum of elected office were swept to victory on a tide of minorities, women, and special interests that segments of the GOP had either offended, marginalized, or persecuted – or all of the above. Their success has been recognized as marking a new era in American politics, as the broad base on which politicians depend shifts and teems with new life and newfound influence. The demographic ground is shifting tectonically under our feet, and intends to continue its current trends, according to NPR:

Paul Taylor, director of the Social & Demographic Trends project at the Pew Research Center in Washington, says the country is on a trajectory to become a majority nonwhite nation by the early 2040s. Today it’s 63 percent white; by 2020 it will be about 60 percent white.

The forecasts made by Taylor are based on immigration trends, birthrates and mortality rates. “As the complexion of the population changes,” he says, “so too will the complexion of the electorate. In 2012 it was 28 percent nonwhite, a record. By 2020 it will be more than 30 percent nonwhite.”

This may not seem like a big shift, until you realize that Obama won the presidency by a 3.7 percentage point margin over Romney. Single points can make a huge difference in electoral politics. From the Pew Research Center:

The minority groups that carried President Obama to victory yesterday by giving him 80% of their votes are on track to become a majority of the nation’s population by 2050, according to projections by the Pew Research Center. They currently make up 37% of the population, and they cast a record 28% of the votes in the 2012 presidential election, according to the election exit polls.

By 2050, the Hispanic share of the U.S. population could be as high as 29%, up from 17% now. The black proportion of the population is projected to rise slightly to 13%, while the Asian share is projected to increase to 9% from its current 5%. Non-Hispanic whites, 63% of the current population, will decrease to half or slightly less than half of the population by 2050.

These minority groups gave eighty percent of their vote to Obama, and have traditionally voted Democratic in similar numbers before Obama came along. This means that a drastic increase in their numbers over the next couple decades provides a drastic increase in the Democratic base, and in votes for Democratic candidates (and depending on how Obama’s plans for immigration reform pan out, the shift could have an even greater impact). That is, unless Republicans can reform their image in an effective and timely manner, and shed or at least marginalize the more extreme elements that make them unappealing to, well, everyone but themselves. The party of old, white and ostensibly self-made men is severely lacking in minorities, and perhaps cripplingly so (just take a look at the famous national convention photos of the two parties side-by-side; the Dems are an array of color, while the Reps are indistinguishable from one another). A major overhaul is needed. They need a leader to do this, and whoever emerges as the face of the New Republican Party could very well be their nominee in 2016.

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According to some – and god, do I hope they’re right – Colorado and Washington are in the process of Pied Piper-ing the country towards marijuana legalization. Some states have come very close already, but either had legalization ballot measures voted down (Oregon, California, Nevada) or preempted by state legislatures (also California). In an article well worth reading, Rolling Stone has it that seven particular states are next in line to face reality and undergo this transformation – Oregon, California, Nevada, Rhode Island, Maine, Alaska, and Vermont, in that order – and they make individual arguments for each. Most have already drastically decriminalized marijuana, and some have allowed medical marijuana. So the incentive to make the short leap to legalization really comes down to two things: money, and a desire to avoid wasting the time and resources of law enforcement (which, I suppose, are really just one thing: money, in the form of new revenue from taxes and in the form of savings from freeing up law enforcement to do, you know, police work).

Regarding Oregon (emphasis mine):

[G]iven that Oregon’s biggest city, Portland, will be just across the Columbia River from prevalent, legal marijuana, the state legislature will be under pressure to create a framework for the drug’s legal use in Oregon – in particular if the revenue provisions of Washington’s law are permitted to kick in and lawmakers begin to watch Washington profit from the “sin taxes” on Oregon potheads.

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6:30pm

An update to yesterday’s post “How President Obama has been seriously harshing my mellow.” If you haven’t read that one yet, go read it. It’s a good one.

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Apparently, various commentariat entities have been making the same point I made yesterday at the end of my post: which was to point out a gift-wrapped opportunity the GOP could use to appeal to younger voters by supporting the newfound right to get their smoke on in Colorado and Washington. You may notice, these first articles were produced by certain entities that are, uh, shall we say, not on my Christmas card list. But the enemy of my enemy is said to be my friend, and sometimes fighting the good fight for the right of Coloradans and Washingtonians to bake it out in their driveway makes for strange bedfellows.

Isn’t this a rather sweet political opportunity for the GOP? They’re desperate for ways to earn some goodwill with young voters and minorities. Opposing prosecutions for weed is an easy way to do it, and thanks to Washington and Colorado voters, they wouldn’t have to do it on the merits if they so chose. They could do it purely on federalism grounds — i.e. while opinions on marijuana may differ, it’s disgraceful that Congress would trump the considered judgment of a sovereign state on what its citizens should and shouldn’t be allowed to ingest. I doubt you’d lose many anti-marijuana seniors with a principled argument like that and it would change the framework of this debate enough that it might allow for a bolder decriminalization debate later.

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MarijuanaHigh on my list of Obama’s Un-kept Promises is his inconsistency on medical marijuana policy. When he was entering office, there was a perception that Obama was going to respect the laws of states that have legalized marijuana for medical purposes – currently numbering seventeen, though less at the time – and that he would essentially stand-down Justice Department prosecution of cases related to the issue. Where did this perception come from? Maybe here:

In a March 2008 interview, Obama told the Oregon Mail Tribune that medical marijuana ranked low on his list of priorities.

“I think the basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors, I think that’s entirely appropriate,” Obama said. “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.”

ObamaPotObama said this to the Oregon Daily Mail during his first campaign. However, Obama’s own personal penchant for smoking marijuana has been well-documented, so perhaps he just forgot. Because during his first three years in office, Obama’s Justice Department was responsible for over one hundred medical marijuana busts. In his first term, his wrath on dispensaries has exceeded even that of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

And, as we all undoubtedly know, marijuana has been legalized for recreational use under the state laws of Washington and Colorado (a similar measure was defeated in Oregon) – so the sky should be falling down any day now.

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