Sociological Analysis of the Presidential Election of 2012 from a Structural Functionalist Perspective and a Conflict Perspective. As the presidential election draws closer, we could vividly view our society from social conflict and structural functionalist perspectives. The democratic process helps us to ask why do we accept and embrace democracy, how does it influence our social patterns and functions; and how does democracy really work for the stability of our society.
In this essay, I will analyze the presidential election of 2012 using sociological perspective with emphasis on manifest and latent functions, class, race and gender conflicts. It is a known fact that democracy and demography are like Siamese twins that cannot be separated. These demographics include gender, race, age, disability, wealth, employment status, and locations. Politicians have used, and still using, these elements to know which group is the best to appease. On gender issue, the two prominent political parties, Democratic and the Republican Parties, know that “females voters make up 52% of the US electorate” (Bloomberg News).
These women tend to vote for any political party that caters to their needs. Also, race is part of political consideration. The African-Americans, Asian-Americans, the Hispanics and White are different voting blocs which the politicians must woo. According to the online Hispanic News, “the recent release of National Census data confirms that “50 million Latinos are part of the American electorate”. Not only the Hispanics are increasing in population, the African American grew by 1. 6% in 2010 while the Asian-American are recently declared, by CNN, as the “fastest growing minority in the US”.
Another demographic to be considered is age. Steven Thomma and William Douglas of McClatchy Newspaper said, “Statistics show that older white and rich voters are more reliable electorates than the young voters; they tend to vote Republican Party”. The question now is how all these fit into our sociological perspective. I will start by looking at the manifest function of our democracy. In truth, democracy has helped to stabilize and also create unity among citizens. It has become a recognized and accepted process which everyone look forward to periodically.
It is intended to involve all qualified adults in picking their next leaders. The sense is that once everyone is involved, then the majority will be pleased with the government. However, as much as there has been good governance through democracy, there have also been some unintended consequences too. These consequences can be seen by examining the latent function of our democracy. Today, one can hardly watch TV or listen to the radio without seeing or hearing the fracture that exists in the political system of our country.
Citizens have been divided into two or more groups based on their party affiliations. The divide is so obvious that parties are not willing to compromise on any issue. The result is a stagnant government, and no reasonable policies have been passed into law. It is hard to know if this fraction is recognized but we surely know that it is unintended. Aside from stability and loyalty which democracy brought into our society, we have seen inequality that generates conflicts. These conflicts can be seen in class, race and gender.
On Class, according to Real Cleat Politics, the Pew Research Center found in 2008 that six out of ten Americans say that the Republican Party “favors the rich”. Real Clear Politics went further to state how the Republican policies give tax break to the rich and the Democrats want tax breaks for the middle class and the poor. This situation has created a permanent wide gap between the rich and the poor. Another conflict is race; it is not surprising that the political parties are trying to woo the ethnic group with the highest population.
The Democrats are trying to lure the Hispanic with immigration reform while the Republicans are trying to solidify their White base with a promise of deportation of illegal immigrants. Both sides are aggressively marketing their ideas to each race for votes. According to US Catholics News, “these problems have led to family division, causing a heavy toll on children and families of Hispanic community’. The Hispanics are not the only group suffering from this political division, The African- American, the Asian-American, the Indian-Americans and all other minorities are all struggling to fit into the social structure.
For all of these, one can easily see both the minorities and the majority voting along their party line. The minority ethnic groups tend to vote for Democrats while the majority ethnic group votes Republican. Another well observed social conflict can be seen in gender. The gender issue has brought out many social issues. From woman’s health, contraceptives and abortion, parenthood and womanhood, the list goes on and women are taking their stands on issues that concern them. The women are the largest electorate in US.
LA Progress, an online News Journal, after series of research, simply concludes that “Women will decide 2012 Presidential Election”. For this reason, politicians are coming up with policies that will benefit women. However, not all these policies are favorable to all women. For example, the pro-life advocates want abortion abolished, the pro-choice advocates wants abortion to be part of preventive healthcare programs. The debate has generated so much heat that some abortion clinics were burned down and some abortion doctors were murdered.
With all these issues in mind, pro-choice women mostly vote for Democrats while pro-life women mostly vote for Republicans. Men have been the agitators for gun rights. Policies are fashioned to give them freedom to own guns without any restrictions; these policies have led to the availability of street guns. The lovers of guns mostly vote republican while the pro-gun control group mostly votes for republicans. It is important to mention here that National Rifle Association, the best known body that represents gun rights advocates, has both male and female members.
Above all, this election is very unique because from the look of things, the minorities especially the Hispanic and women are increasing in population and they will determine the election outcome. The Hispanic and women mostly vote for Democrats while Asian-American, the fastest growing minority, mostly votes for Republicans because of their conservative values. In all, the political landscape is definitely shifting from what it used to be. We will all see the political party it favors in November. References: Bloomberg News: