WASHINGTON (IPS) — Just days after United States President Barack Obama announced his reelection campaign for the 2012 run-off via a YouTube video, the White House is poised on the brink of its first shutdown in 15 years, with budget wars, an immigration maelstrom and determined opposition to the administration's seeming tolerance for union-busting, barricading the path to a second term for the Democratic incumbent.
|U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference at the White House in Washington, April 5 , 2011. REUTERS/Jim Young|
"As of Apr. 1, 2010 the U.S. population stands at 308.7 million, up 27.3 million or 9.7 percent since the last count in 2000," Marc Perry, chief of the population distribution branch of the U.S. Census Bureau, told the press here Tuesday, adding that the minority share of the population increased over the past decade in every single state.
Driving what the National Journal has dubbed the "Next America" is a simultaneous explosion of the Asian and Hispanic populations in the U.S., coupled with a steady decline in what the Census describes as the "Non-Hispanic White" citizenry, painting a positive picture for the incumbent, whose 8.5 million-vote margin over John McCain in 2008 was powered by a 20 percent surge in minority voting.
Analysis from Project Vote, a liberal non-profit, estimated that roughly 5.8 million more minorities voted in the 2008 Presidential elections than in 2004, while nearly 1.2 million fewer Whites went to the polls.
Of the 27.3 million added to the U.S. population in this last decade, growth amongst the White population accounted for a mere 2.3 million, while Hispanics contributed to well over half the population gains, with Asians contributing the next biggest share.
Compounding the real increase in the percentage share of self-identified minorities are the evolving internal migrations patterns across the country.
"The big news for politicians this year is the dispersion of Hispanics into parts of the country where they previously weren't in very large numbers," William Frey, a senior demographer at the Washington-based Brookings Institute, reported, hastening to add that the African American population has also evidenced a gradual but consistent re-settlement pattern since the 1990s in a pronounced shift "back to the South."
Increasingly affluent southern metropolises like Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Raleigh have witnessed a burgeoning Black middle class, while Michigan and Illinois showed this year for the first time significant losses in their Black demographic.
Addressing the press here Tuesday, Frey stressed that of the 49 states with growing populations, a combination of minorities accounted for nearly all the growth in 33 states, including the old melting-pot posse Florida, Texas and California, as well as the usual homogenous suspects Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa and Nebraska.
Arizona and Georgia have also seen increased minorities, as have traditionally "alabaster" states like Utah, Minnesota, Idaho and even South Dakota.
This is the kind of math that David Axelrod, the likely candidate for Obama's senior campaign strategist for 2012, likes to do. "One of our strengths during the 2008 candidacy was a broader battlefield," he said in an interview with the National Journal earlier this week. "What these numbers suggest is that those same opportunities are present in 2012."
Should voters forgive and forget?
These bright numbers notwithstanding, the Democrats have failed to count their broken promises to key constituencies – working class people of color and immigrant communities — that make up a huge percent of the labor force.
While Wisconsin's public sector workers have absorbed the bulk of media attention in the last few months, there has been no dearth of labor and immigrant struggles against savage budget cuts and draconian immigration laws across the country during this pivotal political time.
Honoring Martin Luther King Jr.'s death anniversary, the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10, a predominantly African American local, crippled the ports in Oakland and San Francisco on Apr. 4 when several hundred workers stayed away in protest of union busting campaigns sweeping the country.
Two weeks ago, over 5,000 workers marched down Wall Street in New York City, demanding an end to budget cuts and tax exemptions for the richest one percent of the population.
Just Tuesday, Hidalgo County in Texas took the first steps in a lawsuit against the federal government for violating protocol by refusing to mail census forms to 95 percent of residents living in unincorporated subdivisions along the Texas-Mexico border, housing units known as colonias.
According to New American Media, some 300,000 residents, living in abysmal conditions along the Texas-Mexico border, were bypassed by the census, resulting in a one-billion- dollar loss to state coffers. The miscount also severely hampered the state's chances for reapportionment, a continuation of a decades-long policy in which those most in need of government services are deemed "hard to count" and repeatedly overlooked.
Meanwhile, Representative Luis Gutierrez, a democratic congressman from Obama's hometown, is speeding through a 20- city tour, raising a red flag on Obama's failure to deliver any of his promises on immigration reform.
According to Gutierrez, Obama's first year in office saw the deportation of 400,000 working immigrants and U.S.-born undocumented youth — more than any other president before him has deported and a flagrant violation of promises made during his election campaign.
Many in the labor movement have already forsaken the voting booths, citing Obama's disappointing term as the proverbial straw on an over-worked camel's back.
"Both major political parties are [only] enthusiastic about regressive, punitive measures like mass deportations of innocent workers and wasting taxpayer money on militarizing the border and enriching private prison corporations," Daniel Gross, the executive director of Brandworkers International, told IPS.
"The system in this country is constructed to maintain an oppressed underclass of workers whose only crime is having been born in countries gutted by multinational corporations and their agents in government," he added.
"I don't think movement builders should time their work around election cycles. We should have a singular focus: increasing the organization of the working class whether in labor unions, worker centers, or community-based organizations," Gross said.
"Undocumented workers are the backbone of our economy. Only through organized collective strength can we start to talk meaningfully about real, not illusory, change," he added.
"Labor organizers have to stop looking to the government to solve the movement's problems. Investing vast sums into the Democratic Party has been a tragically flawed strategy for building union density," Gross told IPS.
"Those resources should be invested in developing the capacity of rank and file union members and non-union workers to become organizers in their industries and their communities," he concluded.