Wow, it is really happening: Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. Only eighteen months after the Democratic Party elected Nancy Pelosi the first female Speaker of the House, we are now the first major party to nominate an African-American for President.
Just let that sink in for a moment. It is pretty amazing.
I also encourage you to think about the role of the Democratic Party in the United State for a moment. Consider the following:
But wait, there's more! Union members, single women, and whites who self-identify their religion as either "none" or "other" than the main world denominations also vote for Democrats by more than 2-1 margins. (The "nones" are more than 3-1). Even the nerds vote for Democrats, as 58% of those with post-graduate degrees support Dems. (You can find sources for all of the voting statistics citing so far here, here, and here.)
Whatever its flaws, the Democratic Party really is the party for "everyone else" in America. Virtually every ethnic, religious and sexual minority votes for Democrats by overwhelming margins. Vulnerable economic groups, such as single women, union members, and low-income voters also break for Democrats by overwhelming margins. Fewer than 50% of the Democrats in the United States House and United States Senate combined are white, male, straight and Christian. Even the elites of the Democratic Party are very different, on demographic level, from the elites in the media and business community in America.
For quite some time, the Democratic Party struggled with a "loser" image nationally. Given its minority heavy, downtrodden heavy, freaks and geeks membership, it isn't a huge secret how it developed that negative brand. However, over the last few years, something unusual is starting to happen: traditionally under-represented groups are starting to occupy leadership roles in the party, and the party is starting to win a lot of elections. Now, with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, Democrats hold 235 seats in the House (a number that is soon to rise quite a bit), even though the highest Republicans ever reached was 232. In addition to holding the majority of Governors, state legislatures, and members of the U.S. Senate, all of those majorities are expected to expand significantly in 2008. To top it all off, the Democratic presumptive nominee for President, Barack Obama, is expected to become the next President of the United States.
A shift of electoral power toward the Democratic Party actually means a broad shift toward more pluralistic control of our government. The minorities, the downtrodden, and the freaks and geeks are taking over. While I have little doubt that I will continue to be something of a party gadfly, and that I will continue to hold an oppositional, progressive stance toward the leadership on fairly regular occasions, sometimes it is good to remember that the Democratic Party is, in some very important ways, actually pretty good. Today, I am very happy to be a part of it.