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Now is the Hour1

Nov 16, 2008
A new political dawn is breaking in America. A black Democrat is on his way into the White House with a large mandate—and expectation—for change.

How did it all happen? A look at three selected national maps will tell a large part of the tale. Open these in separate tabs or windows, so you can go from one to the other. (Hint for Internet Explorer or Firefox users: right click the links):

The first two maps provide a graphic view of the “blue-ing” of America between the 2004 and 2008 elections. However, note where the holdouts—the rock-hard Republicans— reside. Other than the sparsely populated upper midwest and western states, they tend to be in the used-to-be solid South and Alaska (it was expected McCain would win his home state of Arizona).

Now compare this map to the third one, showing rates of high school graduation in the 2004-2005 school year. There are exceptions, to be sure; however, there is a clear correlation between many red states and, in this case, the white states with the lowest graduation rates. Virginia and North Carolina broke away from the solid South this year, and neither state is white. A recent New York Times article sheds light on why this happened, noting that Virginia and North Carolina “made history last week in breaking from their Confederate past and supporting Mr. Obama. Those states have experienced an influx of better educated and more prosperous voters in recent years.... Southern counties that voted more heavily Republican this year than in 2004 tended to be poorer, less educated and white....”2

So there it is and there is our cue for the future: If we want to break the modern red-state dominance over our political system, a dominance that has brought us vast inequities in wealth, lost wars, corporate hegemony, a damaged reputation, a tattered Constitution, and a failed economy; a dominance which today we can only hope we have begun to reverse, then we have to get money into the pockets of working men and women, and we have to provide our nation’s children with a proper education.

A living wage and universal quality education. These must be our priorities in the coming days and years, not misusing our wealth in bailing out banks, propping up failed industries, or committing atrocities against medieval civilizations in order to steal their resources.

We are a nation in the enviable position of being able to end ignorance and want within our borders and in our time. Now, together, we must find the will to do so.
1 A Christmas Carol—Ignorance and Want. Our illustration is taken from the scene in the Alistair Sim Christmas Carol where the Ghost of Christmas Present opens his robe to reveal two starving children, whom he names Ignorance and Want, huddled at his feet. View the scene on YouTube by clicking the link.
2 For South, a Waning Hold on National Politics, by Adam Nossiter, from the New York Times, November 10, 2008 (Accessed November 11, 2008)
tags: Governance | Education | Economics

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