In the wake of last week's election, the sadly predictable, hyperbolic outpouring of anger filled my social networks, and jilted Romney supporters had choice words to say about the results. Talk of being ashamed of their country, hoping for a swift End of Days scenario, and threatening to move to countries that ironically have far more socialist policies than the United States all made an appearance. To match some of the rhetoric I have since heard and offer my opinion, bear with me as I put on what I'm calling my "Godless-Atheist-Muslim Terrorist Sympathizing-moocher-entitled-liberal-progressive-socialist" hat for the duration of this article.
America needs a functional Republican Party, or lacking that, at least a strong conservative party. Our nation thrives on multitudes of opinions and the compromises created through collaboration. What America does not need, however, is a political party completely out of touch with the reality of today's America, intent on pushing a set of moral and religious codes unnecessary to numerous Americans, and refuses to work with those who do not share their opinions. President Obama successfully won re-election partly because of the Republican Party's incompetence, and partly because he understands America's rapidly changing demographics. On election night, Bill O'Reilly of Fox News stated that this election demonstrated that "this is not the traditional America anymore" — and he is absolutely right. Traditional, white America is slowing diminishing. Our demographics are becoming more diverse, and current trends predict that whites will no longer be the racial majority by 2041. This is an unimaginable possibility for the Republican Party, and we can see it thrashing and dying before our eyes. That the GOP could not win the White House in the midst of high unemployment, a proven re-election killer, demonstrates just how far it has fallen.
The United States finds itself in a fundamental demographic and cultural transformation that we will either accept with an eye toward moving forward, or vehemently resist and continue to plunge further into division. On Tuesday, two states legalized marijuana possession, two more states legalized gay marriage and one voted no to instituting a ban, and the nation's first lesbian senator was elected. To quote songwriter Bob Dylan, "the times, they are a-changing." Gone are the days of one religious or moral code that the entire country wants to abide by; gone are the days where a white, heterosexual, Protestant culture dominates all aspects of American life.
Change, especially in something as important as national identity and demographic makeup, is a terrifying, existential crisis. Some choose to retreat to fundamentalism and the hateful rhetoric of the terrifying "other." Others find comfort and stability in their family, their religion, or in some nostalgic view of a past society that may or may not have actually existed. The funny thing about change, however, is that it happens regardless of people's opinions. The same change that is occurring in our society is not because of an explosion of entitled citizens, or a complete disappearance of "traditional" morals, but rather the change that occurs every time a dominant group in society feels its stranglehold on power slipping. I cannot predict what our nation will look like in ten or twenty years; nor can anyone else. Surely, however, the best way to react to change is not to wish for doomsday scenarios, or spew hate speech, or label vast swathes of the population as degenerate moochers. Change is exciting and terrifying because it challenges the basic foundations of our identity. We can all learn something from change, if we only let it lead to a new and exciting future.
— Ron Walters is a senior in English literature, French, and global studies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.