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Javelin is Deactivated

It was a bad night for the Grand Old Party. By the time the sun rose so unkindly, the GOP wasn’t feeling all that grand. Javelin, Romney’s code name, was deactivated and his Secret Service agents disappeared. That had to hurt. Along with only writing his victory speech, Romney planned a $25,000 eight minute fireworks display over Boston harbour. Unfortunately, the barges were unloaded and the victory fire was taken away as the very solemn, and virtually all white, crowd left the convention hall. There’s nothing quite like losing a presidential election.

To the leading rightwing ideologues in the Republican Party it apparently was the end of the world. Rush Limbaugh on his radio show:

In a country of children where the option is Santa Clause or hard work, what wins?...Romney did offer a vision of traditional American in his way...It was rejected in favour of a guy who thinks that those who are working aren’t doing enough to help those who aren’t... I went to bed last night thinking we’re outnumbered. I went to bed last night thinking all this discussion we’d had about this election being the election that will tell us whether or not we’ve lost the country. I went to bed last night thinking we’ve lost the country. I don’t know how else you look at this.

Bill O’Reilly, live on Fox News:

It’s a changing country, the demographics are changing. It’s not a traditional America anymore, and there are 50 percent of the voting public who want stuff. They want things. And who is going to give them things? President Obama…The white establishment is now a minority. You’re going to see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama. Overwhelming black vote for President Obama. And women will probably break President Obama’s way. People feel that they are entitled to things, and which candidate between the two is going to give them things?

Anne Coulter being interviewed by Laura Ingraham on her radio show:

If Mitt Romney cannot win in this economy, then the tipping point has been reached. We have more takers than makers and it’s over. There is no hope…A country no longer interested in conservative ideas. It’s interested in handouts.

And, of course, there is Donald Trump’s tweeting frenzy.

These statements tell us a lot about the Republican Party’s direction over the past thirty years. First is the contemptuous labelling of people as: children seeking fantasies; rejecting of hard work; wanting to be given things; feeling entitled; takers and not makers. These words and attitudes are strikingly similar to those articulated by Romney when he dismissed 47% of the American people as self-defined victims who will never accept responsibility for themselves and for whom he has no real interest. A distain for almost half of the population is held by more than just Romney in the Republican Party. And they are baffled by their election defeat.

Second is the equally remarkable definition of who “these people” are and are not. They are not Traditional Americans. They are not the White Establishment. The are not adult hardworking makers. They are children, who want stuff, handouts, and to alleviate any possible confusion O’Reilly identified them for us: Hispanics, Blacks, LGBT and women.

What O’Reilly and Coulter failed to say, that which they always fail to say, is that their “traditional Americans” also feel entitled and are far more powerful and connected to get the stuff they want. For example, Coulter has no difficulty in taking taxpayers’ money for her family business in the form of farm subsidies. Sher Valenzuela, a candidate for lieutenant governor for Delaware, was equally happy to take $2 million in federal loans and approximately $15 million in federal contracts to help establish her upholstery business. There was no mention on election night of the $14 billion the oil industry takes in government subsidies[1] or the taxpayer’s money the bankers are still taking to save their industry.

Third is the fearful description of what these colourful takers have done. They have taken everything. Traditional America is lost. The country is lost. Hope is lost. The great and famous speakers for the GOP and conservative America actually sounded more than disappointed and worried. The sounded fearful.

So who are all these takers, these “non-traditional” people who voted for Obama and Armageddon this election. Well, the exit polls are fairly clear. Obama won:

  • 93% of Black votes;
  • 71% of Hispanic votes;
  • 73% of Asian votes;
  • 49% to 47% of the Cuban American vote (amazingly);
  • 68% of single women votes (who now make up 23% of the electorate);
  • 90% of the LGBT vote;
  • 60% of 18 to 29 year olds;
  • 52% of 30 to 44 year olds;
  • 63% of those earning less than $30,000;
  • 57% of those earning between $30,000 and $49,999.

These are the people of whom so many Republicans show contempt. Like religious fundamentalists proudly rejecting rational thought to indicate the depth of their faith, Republicans dismiss and/or damn million of Americans and still believe they will win national elections. (It is no surprise that the GOP lost the presidency and lost seats in the Senate while holding onto the House.) In an interview on election night a young Hispanic man standing behind the counter of his small grocery store was asked why he didn’t vote Republican. He said this: “We are like Republicans. We value family as the centre of our lives and we are religions. But they don’t want us here.” We can assume he found the policy of “self-deportation” offensive.

Adding to this disturbing disconnect from the American people by the GOP is the fact that Republican officials admitted they had reached their goals for voter turnout. They did not lose because Republicans stayed home. Their traditional America turned out. The Republican strategists acknowledged that they were confounded by the Obama  turnout on election day. As the New Times reported, the power of the Obama operation "stunned Mr. Romney's aides on election night, as they saw voters they never even knew existed turn out in places like Osceola County, Fla." In other words, they did not know, or at least did not know enough, about who would go to the polls for Obama. Who actually did turnout for the President were those people named and dismissed by O’Reilly and ridiculed by Coulter, Limbaugh and Trump.

Now read what President Obama said in the conclusion of his victory speech:

America, I believe we can build on the progress we've made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunities and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founding, the idea that if you're willing to work hard, it doesn't matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn't matter whether you're black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight. You can make it here in America if you're willing to try.

I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We're not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America.

And together, with your help and God's grace, we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on earth. Thank you, America. God bless you. God bless these United States.

(To view President Obama’s speech click here. To read the text of the speech click here.)

President Obama also identified people, but he identified us all and not as over and against each other. No lost “traditional America” or “white establishment.” No demeaning others based on double standards. No contempt. No bewilderment about who and what the United States is and is becoming.

You say, he won, what do you expect? Fair enough, but he’s been saying these things for years. He is not confounded or frightened by the people that make up the United States. He knows who they are, and as one commentator said on the night, he probably learned the names of all their pets too.

Why did Romney lose? For many reasons, but one more exit poll helps us understand how people respond to contempt and acceptance. When asked to choose the candidate who "cares about people like me," President Obama had an impressive 81% to 18% edge.

Copyright © 2012 Dale Rominger

[1] A subsidy is defined as any government action that lowers business costs, raises the price received or lowers the price paid by consumers. There are a lot of activities under this simple definition: tax breaks and giveaways, loans at favorable rates, price controls, purchase requirements, government contracts and grants, etc.
See: OilChange International and Gasoline and diesel usage and pricing.

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