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America's Word of the Year: 'Demographics'

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As 2012 draws to a close, it leaves the nation's political landscape changed by four syllables: "demographics." Together they form a simple word that everyone in America will come to love or hate. Why? The fundamental principles of American elections are no longer valid. No longer are white Americans the head of the electoral process. Do I say that gleefully? Yes. I am happy that politicians will be forced to address the diverse needs of every American, whether they are African-American, Asian, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or Latino.

Oh, the great tableau of America! We are finally living up to America's creed of "a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed."

Well, the governed have spoken, and they will continue to speak. Our history tells us that so many were, for much of our history, not able to speak. The only group in America that has always had the right to vote is white men who own property.

Limited enfranchisement, granted in 1787 with the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, meant any male aged 21 or older who possessed a deed to land could join the cabal that controlled the United States. The rest of us were just chopped liver or chattel.

Eventually, all men were able to vote. Of course, in theory, minority men could vote beginning in 1870 with the passing of the 15th Amendment. But those pesky poll taxes, literacy and religious tests always seemed to disqualify anyone who was not white.

Actually, voting has always been about demographics. At first, the underlying question was how to ensure that only white men could vote. Later it was how to ensure that only the votes of white men and women counted. Iin 2012, America's true demographics have fundamentally changed the electoral map, shaken the conventional wisdom and changed our politics forever.

In order to win the presidency of the United States, a candidate needs to sew together a patchwork of political groups that includes white women, LGBT people, Latinos, African Americans and Asians, all groups that have been oppressed in the past. As they say, payback is a bitch.

I wonder if the LGBT members of GOProud and the Log Cabin Republicans have become a little bit reflective. If you are one of those, you are supporting a political party that, at the moment, has nowhere to go but down, a party that did not want you as a member. I would hate to be you at an LGBT cocktail party: "Look, there's a gay Republican," the assembled guests say as they burst into laughter.

Demographics are the characteristics of a population. That's what a presidential candidate needs to fundamentally understand to win votes. When only white people voted, then only white people mattered. But just like fall foliage, Americans demographics are changing colors.

The American's Creed says that the country is "a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes."

Freedom, equality, justice and humanity. If only we could live up to these principles each day. Are you free if you cannot marry the person you love? Are you equal if you can be discriminated against for being transgender? Is it just for you to pay taxes on your domestic partner benefits? Where is the humanity in denying every gay man the ability to give blood?

The diverse tableau of America has finally reached the whitest realm: politics. And there will be no turning back.

  Obama Romney
Obama Romney
332 206
Obama leading
Obama won
Romney leading
Romney won
Popular Vote
33 out of 100 seats are up for election. 51 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Holdover
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats* Republicans
Current Senate 53 47
Seats gained or lost +2 -2
New Total 55 45
* Includes two independent senators expected to caucus with the Democrats: Angus King (Maine) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).
All 435 seats are up for election. 218 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats Republicans
Seats won 201 234
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