Posts Tagged ‘Ohio’

Obama’s Varied ‘American Family’

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

President Barack Obama walks on stage with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia to deliver his victory speech on election night at McCormick Place in Chicago. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

By Emily Theroux
Why did Mitt Romney lose the 2012 election he was so certain he could win by appealing almost entirely to angry, aging white men?

America, it turns out, isn’t nearly as uniformly white as its white residents have long imagined it to be. Women, African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians (as well as young voters of both genders and all ethnic groups) had a much larger say in this election than the Romney campaign calculated. Barack Obama’s “noisy, messy, complicated” democracy of 300 million people bears what he called, in his brilliant victory speech, “a mark of our liberty” in the very contentiousness that so polarizes us.

“The story of this election is that the Republican Party has not kept up with the changing face of America,” MSNBC’s Chuck Todd proclaimed just after the nation’s first black president won reelection.

The improving economy played a part in Obama’s stunning victory, as did the success in Midwestern states of his auto bailout, his foreign-policy experience, and his quick, effective, and compassionate response to Hurricane Sandy. Romney’s consistently high negative ratings (over everything from his obvious mendacity and persistent flip-flopping to his unsavory “vulture capitalist” career, obsessive secrecy about both his wealth and his taxes, refusal to provide any substantive details about the policies he might pursue as president, and repellent, robotic personality) certainly made voters less likely to trust him or view him as “presidential.”

“But make no mistake,” Todd opined. “What happened last night was a demographic time bomb that had been ticking and that blew up in GOP faces.” The white portion of the electorate dropped to 72 percent, Todd noted, and the president won only 39 percent of that vote. Among other demographic groups, however, Obama rode the crest of an unstoppable wave of change.

  • Obama carried 93 percent of black voters  (now 13 percent of the electorate).
  • Obama won 71 percent of Latinos (10 percent) nationwide; about 70 percent of the Latino vote in Colorado and Nevada; and 60 percent in Florida, despite the large number of Cuban-American Republicans in the state’s population.
  • The president won 73 percent of Asians (3 percent of the electorate).
  • Despite predictions that youth turnout would be depressed because young voters were believed to have become disillusioned with the president’s policies, voters in the 18-29 demographic represented 19 percent of the 2012 electorate (up from 18 percent in 2008); Obama won 60 percent of that age group.

The American people won this election, fair and square. Despite a GOP strategy of blatant racism and xenophobia, a broad-based voter suppression machine that put Jim Crow to shame, the “caging” of targeted groups from voter rolls, actual election fraud committed by a shady voter-registration firm used repeatedly (and under different names) by the Republican National Committee and various GOP candidates (including Romney) since the 2004 election, and a coordinated voter intimidation effort in swing states, Democrats and left-leaning independents toughed out enough attempts to thwart their votes that they were able to outnumber Republicans in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, Virginia, Nevada, and, thus far, Florida — every other battleground state but Indiana and North Carolina.

There simply weren’t enough white voters remaining in the electorate to dominate the vote in the nine swing states. A working coalition of single women, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, and young voters collaborated to defeat Romney and Republican Senate candidates in state after state.

Twenty years ago, said Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, “an establishment candidate like Mitt Romney would have trounced Obama.” As bigoted and uncharitable as O’Reilly was about the black, Latino, and female voters who “feel that the economic system is stacked against them” and “feel they are entitled to things,” O’Reilly had a point.

Romney won 61 percent of the white vote last night, said Todd. The last candidate to win with that high a percentage of the white vote was George H.W. Bush in 1988. Since then, the share of the white vote in the general electorate has shrunk, and 61 percent of a shrinking slice of the electoral pie no longer puts GOP candidates in the White House.

“The white establishment is now the minority,” O’Reilly lamented. “The demographics of the country have changed. It’s not a traditional America any more.”

An anonymous comment following the Daily Beast’s story about Mitt Romney’s “bust” of a “victory party” elaborated on the point:

“The most telling aspect of Romney’s election night gathering is (that) just about every single person in the audience was white. The GOP is going to have to learn that they will not win if they do not court our racial minorities, and to court them means to give up on their racial bias. It’s politics, people; you are supposed to represent your constituency, and if you do not do that, you are going to continue to fail.”

This country’s been way too white for way too long. It was engendered as a melting pot, but an unequal one. Now, with the reelection of America’s first black president, the path that leads away from a government of, by, and for old, wealthy white men is well on its way to being leveled. This societal upheaval has inspired a great, ragged cry of protest from the privileged few who are being inexorably replaced — not by revolution or the “reparations” they’ve imagined being expected to pay, but by the births of “non-white” children (whose “right to life” remains the near-universal obsession of the very people who most resist immigration, integration, and assimilation).

I call them “world children.” The urban block I live on is a virtual “United Nations” of racial and ethnic backgrounds. My neighbors’ son, Sir William, 7, is French-Canadian and African-American. Becky, 8, who adores my dog, Zoe, and dresses her up in costumes, has a Mexican mother, Remedios, and a Honduran father, Jesus. Amanda, 10, is Afro-Caribbean and Dominican. MacKenzie, 6, and Natalia, 4, are Irish, Portuguese, Cherokee, and black. Jovaughan, 9, and his little sisters, are Haitian; while Elijah, 5, and Joelle, 2, have an African-American father and an Irish mother.

My baby grandaughter, Dulcinea,1, is Italian, Scotch-Irish, Anglo-Saxon, Norman, and Palestinian. My husband’s two grown children, Kailey, 26, and Alexander, 23, are French-Canadian, Irish, and Jewish.

These children are the future of an electorate that, by 2040, will cross the invisible threshhold from “majority white” to “majority other.” No longer “illegal” or “alien,” their varied and blended ethnicities may one day succeed in eradicating the scourge of racism from a country where everyone, after all, is originally from somewhere else.

The Right Takes a Hit in Ohio

Monday, November 7th, 2011

By Jeffrey Page
For reasons other than the obvious, I wish Al Page were alive today, sitting at his table, sipping his coffee, and reading the story in the Times about what the great people of Ohio have done.

They basically told the governor, John Kasich, and his Tea Party pals around the country that you don’t ask the voters to go along with you as you try to bust a union representing people who work for the public good. People such as cops and teachers. People such as firefighters and highway workers.

By a resounding vote, Ohioans took a state law that severely restricted public workers’ rights to bargain collectively, and tossed it right where it belongs, in with the soiled diapers, sour milk, rotten cheese and the rest of the trash that other public service workers – sanitation men – haul away.

Al Page was a furrier a long time ago when wearing fur was more acceptable than it is now. He took mink skins and turned them into coats. He was good at it, so good that he was assigned by his bosses on 57th Street to make a mink coat for the wife of King Farouk of Egypt.

Al was a member of a not especially strong furriers union, which, when it seemed like it was going out of business, affiliated with a butchers union. He often complained about working for one of the foremost fur salons in the world – one that made huge amounts of money – and then, around Christmas every year, being rewarded with a bottle of Scotch. What he needed was higher pay, but the boss didn’t listen. Still, Al understood that a weak union was better than no union.

Having survived the Great Depression he was a union man through and through, whose advice as far back as I can remember was that there was strength in organizing.

In the Sixties, when the New York Post called to say the job I had applied for, as a copyboy, was available, I grabbed it. It would pay $48 a week. Only later did I understand the drudgery of my hours: 1 in the morning to 8 in the morning. For working that shift, I got an additional $1 a night.

I started complaining almost immediately.

Al urged forbearance and said I should guess what my pay would be if the Newspaper Guild had never organized the Post. He said I should guess how much night differential would be, or if would be any at all. And anyway, the lousy pay wouldn’t last forever.

I think Al Page would have savored the story in the Times about the Radical Right’s historic train wreck in Ohio, where voters informed Kasich and his friends that public workers are not to be toyed with, that they deserve respect and that they are not the cause of the miserable economy.

I’m sure he would have delighted in the numbers. Sixty-two percent voted to kill that stinking law.

jeffrey@zestoforange.com