The traditional white establishment was not a good thing.
According to Bill O'Reilly, there's a simple reason Obama won: "Because it's not a traditional America anymore. The white establishment is the minority."
Twenty years earlier, he added, said white established would have "roundly defeated" Obama.
I believe that kind of thinking drives a lot of the Republican base, which is heavily composed of older WASP men. Some of them seem to have difficulty accepting that we've moved from an America dominated by WASP men to an America where they're just one of countless ethnic and special interest groups.
Sixty years ago, being a WASP male defined American. The less of a WASP male you were, the less American you were: Nonwhites, people with ethnic last names, Jews, Catholics, they just weren't as American as good Protestant Joe Smith (One of the standard arguments for making school prayers specifically Protestant was that the more Protestant kids became, the more American they became).
WASP men not only ran everything, society accepted they should run everything. It was socially acceptable to give a white guy a job over a better-qualified woman or a black man. Today, white manhood still brings advantages, but people aren't as willing to applaud this. Before the election, Sen. Marco Rubio argued against laws making it easier for women to sue when paid less than men'but he still had to throw in that of course, he totally disapproves of paying women less for equal work.
Sixty years ago, a WASP man couldn't be confident he'd be at the head of the line'there might be better qualified WASPs ahead of him'but he could be damn sure he'd never be at the back. Jews, women, blacks, Hispanics'and in various times, Italians, Catholics, Asians and Irish (there was a time the traditional white establishment would have shut down Bill O'Reilly along with Obama)'would fill up that space. He'd never be on the bottom rung of the social ladder.
Today? Well before the end of the century, whites will no longer be a majority. People claiming "no religion" outnumber Protestants in surveys. Wiccans in some cities have asked to give opening prayers at public ceremonies. Congress includes Buddhists and Muslims. Gay weddings are no longer news. Being a "real" American is less and less equated to being white or Christian.
As O'Reilly says, it's not a traditional America any more. I think for a lot of people, even if they're not bigots, that's threatening'like a piece of their status, their self-image as first among equals, has been taken away. Pat Buchanan expressed the same view a few years ago when he asserted the white working class are angry because America used to belong to them, and now it's been taken away.
It's perfectly true there was a time Barack Obama would never have gotten close to the White House. The "traditional white establishment"'the "racist, sexist and anti-Semitic" white Protestants pundit David Brooks says he admires
'would indeed have shut him down.
That just shows traditional America is not really something we should be heading back to. I know plenty of Repubs who don't want us to. But the ones who do are passionate and angry and that gives them the drive to push the party against most of the things that have gone right with America in the past 60 years.
I'm very happy that this election, they didn't succeed.