Apparently white men in America hold the key to the White House in this 2008 election, so said CNN this morning. I guess it's back to the Founding Fathers once more: white men, the only citizens who could vote.
White men, on average, tend to be right-of-center or independent in their voting patterns. What would make them move to the left this voting cycle, away from McCain and towards Obama? I'm guessing three issues: war, economy, and security.
The war. It will have been nearly 6 full years of the War on Iraq by the time November 4, 2008 rolls around. Six years of a fitful engagement with 'the enemy.' That enemy has had a variety of faces and names over these years: Saddam Ba'athists, Sunni insurgents, Shia militia, Muqtada al-Sadr Army, unspecified 'foreign fighters' and al Qaeda. Some were 'against us' before they were 'with us.' The players are hard to define. So is the mission as well as the end game.
Men like to get the job done and dislike open-ended affairs. It is in our nature to finish one task and to move to another. I would imagine that disillusionment would be a good term to use to describe the white male view of the war right now. We were lied-to as well. Spun too. Hoodwinked. Men don't care to be fooled, especially where war is concerned.
The economy. White males are born with a certain privilege: gender and skin color. They expect doors to open for them, especially men born into upper middle class families. These days they are finding the doors shut. Not only that, but their wages are stagnant, oportunities for advancement limited. High medical premiums, record high energy prices, rising food prices have diluted their wages so that their total wealth has fallen, not risen, in the past 8 years: a real oddity for these men. They feel impotent to do much about it. White men do not like impotence.
Security. The attacks on 9-11 was a terrible psychological blow to the male psyche; the safety of the family is in his hands. The shock of that tragedy has warn thin. The knee-jerk response to seek revenge- quite the tribal instinct- has been vetted although not completely. Bin Laden is still on the loose. White men know now that Saddam had nothing to do with 9-11. Al-Qaeda is the issue and they, along with the Taleban, are increasing in numbers to pre-9-11 numbers. The War on Iraq has done nothing to stop this trend.
White men know that our homeland security has little to do with an invasion. Invasions of a foreign army are out of the picture. They understand that the next 'attack' will be some event inside the states- a terrorist event. The ricin scare in Nevada; the anthrax mailings in DC some years ago; that mysterious electrical black-out in Florida a few weeks ago. Men cannot protect their families from this and neither, it seems, can the government.
Economic security, in my opinion, has risen to the top of the white male agenda. The economic security of their own family is at risk; they are supposed to see to it that their children do better than themselves, just as their fathers did for them. It isn't working out so well. Many face home mortgage problems along with increasing credit debt. The dream of sending their children to college is fading. The hope of retirement security is dicey. Men don't like uncertainty; white men even less.
Thus, when white male voters watch the two candidates from now until November 4, they want to know how these candidates will address their concerns, their problems, their anxieties. Does John McCain have anything to offer besides 'wars and more wars?' Do white males want wars and more wars? Has that fear card turned out to be an empty bluff? Pure bull shit?
Which candidate will address the economic fiasco facing us? Will McCain's message of 'making the Bush tax cuts permanent' give the white male voter security? How will McCain's generous support of the military-industrial-complex be an advantage to the white male? When McCain said last month, "Things are tough now, but we're better off than in 2000," did that resonate with this voting bloc?
Right now, of course McCain is pandering to his conservative base, attempting to prove to them that he is one of them. Does this agenda appeal to the middle class white man? Many of these men thought that they voted for a 'compassionate conservative' in 2000. Is that what they got? How has the so-called conservative agenda made their lives richer, more secure?
Surely I am looking at this issue through the eyes of a left-of-center white male and my judgments here may be skewed, but I don't think I'm too far off of the mark. The middle class white male in America is not happy these days and another Bush-lite for 4 more years cannot be too appealing.