Wednesday, November 7, 2012

More Election Thoughts

I stayed up to watch Mitt Romney's concession speech and President Obama's victory speech. Mitt Romney gave a really classy speech that raised my opinion of him, though it's a moot point now. Obama gave a stirring call to citizenship unlike any I've heard before:
The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government. That’s the principle we were founded on.
This country has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores.
What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth. The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.
It sounded even better than it reads. Downright Lincolnian. I can understand voting against this president, but as I watched the speech I thought, This is the man that millions of people are libeling as unamerican, a socialist, an outsider.  This good, thoroughly American man. Voting against him is fine; pretending he's a radical unamerican outsider is false and vicious.

I think the story of this election is the continued growth of the minority vote. Republicans insisted 2008 could not be repeated, but this year blacks matched their record turnout of four years ago, while Hispanic and Asian turnout increased and they gave their votes to President Obama by record margins. When it was all said and done, according to the exit polls 45% of Obama's voters were minorities.

The biggest mistake the Republicans could make now is to assume that this happened simply because President Obama is black or because he had a great get out the vote operation. Because while President Obama was wooing minority voters, Republicans were doing everything they can, on both symbolic and substantive grounds, to drive them away. The examples of the past four years are too numerous to count, but the rhetorical side of it was nicely demonstrated by Bill O'Reilly last night:

I think many Republicans honestly don't realize that most young people and minorities today look at a clip like that and can only conclude that Bill O'Reilly is a deeply ignorant racist. Most Americans find rhetoric like the stuff in this clip extremely offensive. And note this is basically just a more explicitly racial version of what Mitt Romney said in the 47% video. As long as important figures in the Republican Party continue to give in to such delusional beliefs, the GOP will have difficulty reforming itself.

4 comments:

  1. Actually, he's worse than Mitt Romney. By writing off Hispanics (7% of the electorate), African Americans (11%), and the 52% (women) of those who make up the remainder, O'Reilly basically just claimed that only 39% of the electorate vote on principle.

    The rest of us, apparently, just want "Stuff."

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  2. Do things like freedom to marry, freedom of choice and economic justice count as 'stuff'?

    I mean, if he's gonna start giving out cars, like Oprah, I'll happily collect mine, but that's not why I voted for him.

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    1. Yeah it's absurd. I do not support all of Obama's agenda by any means, but I find the idea that Obama's voters are just in it for "stuff" deeply offensive. Both sides should be able to extend to the other the courtesy of accepting that their opponents want what they believe is best for the country.

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  3. This was incredibly offensive. Shocking.

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