Two Americas: The “47 percent” versus the bitter-clingers
A reelected President Obama may well find himself with almost no Plains or Southern Democrats in Congress outside of a few House members in Dixie’s handful of overwhelmingly African-American districts. With little reason to make compromise or common cause with solid red-state Republicans, the administration could leave the denizens of these states to bitterly cling to their guns and religion, while the president expands on his first-term practice of bypassing Congress to legislate by decree on everything from environmental policy to immigration and the implementation of health-care reform.
Already, notes National Journal’s Ron Brownstein, Democrats hold congressional majorities in only three noncoastal states—Iowa, New Mexico, and Vermont. Much of the country inside the coasts may find themselves with little sympathy from or access to a president whose reelection they will have rejected, often by lopsided double-digit margins.
This could impact, in particular, energy policy since American fossil-fuel production is increasingly concentrated on the Plains, the rural Intermountain west and the Texas-Louisiana coast. Virtually all the mineral-rich economies excepting green-dominated California now lies well outside the electoral base of the president and his party. In a second Obama term, these states could well propel the national economy but could have little say on energy policies. Farming and ranching concerns will also have little political leverage with the White House. And traditional social concerns, most deeply felt in the Southern and more rural states, would lose all currency in a second-term administration whose worldview stems from that in big-city-dominated, deep-blue coastal states.