Elections are won by demographics. No soup company blindly dumps cans of its newest “Turkey Coconut Bouillon with Nutmeg and Omega 3” in Aisle 6 of the supermarket without testing to see what demographics such a hideous concoction might appeal to. Will the product appeal to lesbian single mothers, divorced Asian firefighters or eccentric Latvian millionaires? Politics is no different.
A political party has its base, definable groups who groove to its message, who eat up the red meat that its candidates toss their way. It has the demographic groups which will always vote for it and those who might swing its way. It knows them by race, gender, age, class, sexuality, home ownership and a thousand other statistical slices of the pie. It has those numbers broken down by states, cities and neighborhoods so that it has a good estimate of its chances in a given place and time based on the demographics of the people who live there.
This kind of information is helpful for winning elections– but showing up to play the electoral hand you’re dealt is for suckers. And by suckers, I mean conservative parties.
Breaking down the demographics is like looking at the cards in your hand. Once you’ve done that, the only remaining variable in a static game are your opponent’s cards. With election demographics, players can see all the cards everyone has. That makes the game static. Hands will inevitably be won or lost… unless you can draw some new cards.
The most obvious way to play the demographic game of thrones is with gerrymandered districts. A gerrymandered district is shaped to include a majority of the winning demographic leading to a nearly automatic victory for the party. It’s the political equivalent of stacking the deck.
Gerrymandered districts are of dubious legality, except when shaped to create a majority minority district, in which case it becomes an obligation under civil rights laws. This stacks the deck, creating permanent sinecures for some horribly incompetent politicians and permanent seats for the Democratic Party.
But that is just a matter of rearranging the cards in the deck. What if you could bring in cards from outside the deck? What if you could change the value of some cards? Then you would be on the way to being the best card sharp in Washington D.C. or London or Paris.
Sure you could win elections by creating a few gerrymandered districts, but you couldn’t win a country that way. To do that, you have to change the national demographics.
Suppose you were running our fictional soup company and you discovered that “Turkey Coconut Bouillon with Nutmeg and Omega 3” isn’t popular with key demographics. The only people who like it are unemployed Pakistani immigrants, lesbian single mothers and divorced Asian firefighters.
Sure you could take a shot at putting out another flavor, but damn it, you like this one. And you also spent your entire advertising budget for the next three years promoting it, and thanks to your ad campaign, everyone now associates your company with “Turkey Coconut Bouillon with Nutmeg and Omega 3”. And if people don’t like it, then your company is doomed.
You could try to change people’s minds, or you could try to change the demographics to ones that favor your soup. To do that, you would have to bring in a lot of Pakistani immigrants, create a poor economic climate, promote divorce and homosexuality, and create some public sector jobs.
Luckily, no soup company can do that sort of thing. But governments can.
That’s the neat thing about governments, if they want to change national demographics, bring in more immigrants, create more single-parent families and more unemployment; they can do all those things easily.
Suppose, for example, that instead of running a soup company, you are a UK Labour politician. They say you’re bright, and while that may be debatable and some time later the very people who said it will spit in disgust at the idea, but you are young and you can see the writing on the wall. After Thatcher, there’s no future for the kind of cheap labor radical who threatens to take the workers into the streets at every opportunity. The working-class vote that your party identified with is on the way out. And even if it wasn’t, it won’t survive the leftward drift of your party.
Fortunately, you don’t run a soup company. You run the United Kingdom and what you do is open up the doors to bring in as many Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and that sort into the country as you can. And that way you can create a demographic that will support you, even when the native workers won’t.
Not that this sort of thing could ever happen. A political party could never decide to use its power to import huge numbers of foreigners to displace its domestic base and create a new demographic picture more favorable to its political ambitions. Except that is exactly what happened in the UK.
The huge increases in migrants over the last decade were partly due to a politically motivated attempt by ministers to radically change the country and “rub the Right’s nose in diversity”, according to Andrew Neather, a former adviser to Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett. He said Labour’s relaxation of controls was a deliberate plan to “open up the UK to mass migration” but that ministers were nervous and reluctant to discuss such a move publicly for fear it would alienate its “core working class vote”.
It also happened here, with the indefatigable work of a champion swimmer and legislator in the Senate with a rather famous last name. It’s happening in quite a few places. And not only with immigration. The demographic cards are being shifted, new cards are being palmed, and some cards are having their value altered.
Suppose that your statistics show that unemployed people are more likely to vote for you than the employed. Then your goal would be to shift as many of those who ordinarily wouldn’t vote you from the ranks of the employed to those of the unemployed. And once they were on benefits, they might just come to support you, even though you were the one who maneuvered to deprive them of their employment.
That sort of thing is childishly easy to do if you happen to have a government and a party with extensive partnerships with progressive non-profits and powerful think-tanks and foundations.
Say that workers in factories were 40 percent less likely to vote your way and 80 percent more likely to disapprove of your core “Turkey Coconut Bouillon with Nutmeg and Omega 3” agenda, while only 19 percent of unemployed workers who used to have jobs in factories vote against you and only 56 percent of them are against your core agenda– and they don’t even care much about it anymore because their lives have been turned upside-down and they’re not sure of anything anymore.
There’s an easy answer. Just start shutting down factories on any pretext. Accuse them of pollution, increase their costs, tax and inspect them to death, and make dumping foreign products on the market easier with the complicity of conservatives who are too stupid to understand the game being run on them; and do everything you can to transform the domestic working-class that used to be your base, before you went too far left, into unemployed men sitting bitterly drinking beer while wondering what happened to their country.
Suppose that your soup is called Barack Hussein Obama. In a 2008 taste test, 39 percent of working- class white men chose your soup. But in 2012, only 29 percent are willing to choose your soup. That’s a problem, when people choose their government… but not a problem when governments choose their people.
Got cattle with hoof-and-mouth disease? Kill the cattle and the disease goes away. If working-class white men are a problem for you, then you have to make sure that they don’t have a future and create a country with fewer white men who haven’t gone to college, and fewer white men overall. And then the problem is solved.
Can’t win elections with your current agenda in a country with the current makeup? Dream big, plan even bigger. Drag everyone into college, import the right sort of immigrants, make divorce as common as possible, kill jobs. Don’t start now. Start doing it forty or fifty years ago. Turn Leave It to Beaver into Modern Family and suddenly the liberals will stop looking like commie egghead freaks and the conservatives will start looking like square robotic freaks who keep talking about someone they call “God”, something they call a “Traditional Family” and something they describe as “Jobs.”
Bertolt Brecht once wrote, “Some party hack decreed that the people had lost the government’s confidence and could only regain it with redoubled effort. If that is the case, would it not be simpler if the government simply dissolved the people and elected another?”
Brecht’s sarcasm is now literal truth. Western governments are dissolving their peoples and electing other peoples in their place. Democracy allows peoples to elect governments, but power also allows governments to elect a people. The left has decided that it can win the demographic game of thrones by changing the demographics. And it’s right.
The terrain of the battlefield often determines defeat and victory. The left changes the terrain, while the right keeps trying to fight on the new terrain. And the only way to do that is by going to the left. The right still wins elections, but the left is winning the war for the future. It is shaping the electorate demographics that favor it. To win the future, it doesn’t have to win every election; all it has to do is keep changing the demographics until either the right cannot have any hope of winning any more or until the right is so far left that there no longer is anything that can be described as an opposition.
Demographics is destiny. The left is reshaping countries to match its demographic targets. It is turning nations into one great gerrymandered district composed of populations that are more likely to support it. It is doing this using immigration, economics, social policy and every tool at its disposal. And if conservatives don’t start understanding the demographic game of thrones, then they will lose the war.