Posts Tagged ‘2012 election’

A Few Final Questions

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

By Jeffrey Page

There’s a fact about the results of this election that baffles me and which I haven’t been able to put aside. According to a story in The Times, exit polls indicated that Mitt Romney won 52 percent of the male vote, faring seven points better than President Obama. So men went for Mitt even with Mitt answering as few questions as possible.

Is there some logic in this? Are men just dumb enough to allow themselves to be hoodwinked by a snake oil salesman who wants to be big boss of earth so badly that he won’t be specific about anything, and whose convictions are about a half-inch thick?

Why would any demographic group – least of all, the second largest in the country and therefore one that can demand answers – come out in large numbers to support a silent candidate? Men argue about everything, about work, politics (usually), sports, movies, their favorite beers, the best pizza place in town, Beatles vs. Stones. Why would they give a candidate a free ride on their futures and the futures of their families and their nation?

Mitt Romney switched on just about everything. Consider the question of abortion. In the years, months and days leading up to the election, I knew that at one time Romney was prochoice. Then, with the emergence of the Tea Party, Romney, with the grace of a metallic pancake, flipped.

Reasonable people will agree that anyone has the right to a change-of-mind. The problem with Romney of course is that he changed his mind on abortion, and other matters, several times.

This is a terrible and dangerous way for candidates to act. It gives voters no information and lets the candidate off the hook when we don’t raise a stink about non-responses. It can’t make Tea Partiers happy. It surely can’t make pro-choice people comfortable.

So blatant were his vacillations that if flip-flopping were an Olympic sport, Romney would have been a medalist. Not only did he vacillate on abortion, sometimes he did it with breathtaking speed. Here’s a story that deserved much more ink than it received:

Bloomberg News reminded readers that Romney’s message in the period leading up to the Republican convention in late August, was that he opposed abortion in most cases. He also blasted Barak Obama, saying the president was way out of line in forcing religious organizations to provide contraception in their employees’ health coverage.

Then, about 40 days later, Romney said: “I think I’ve said time and again, I’m a pro-life candidate. I’ll be a pro-life president. The actions I’ll take immediately are to remove funding for Planned Parenthood. It will not be part of my budget.”

And then, about three weeks after that – just before the election – Bloomberg reported that the Romney campaign ran a TV ad in the three battleground states of Virginia, Florida and Ohio noting that Romney “doesn’t oppose contraception at all” and “thinks abortions should be an option” in certain situations.

To cast an intelligent ballot, we need information. Here’s an example of how Mitt Romney thwarted curious Americans. It’s another story that was not widely reported. Late in the campaign, Romney granted a five-minute interview to a local TV reporter in Colorado, and then proceeded to dictate the rules of engagement.

The reporter had to agree to ask no questions about abortion and no questions about Todd Akin, the genius who believes a woman’s body is somehow designed not to get pregnant as the result of “a legitimate rape.”

All right. This wretchedly long presidential selection process is over for now though there already is talk about Hillary Clinton’s plans for 2016, and we are all relieved of robo calls, endless radio and TV commercials, and tons of campaign material in the mail.

But the question remains: What were the men of America thinking?

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.