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ROBINSON: A new America speaks

Eugene Robinson

Eugene Robinson

WASHINGTON -- So much for voter suppression. So much for the enthusiasm gap. So much for the idea that smug, self-appointed arbiters of what is genuinely "American" were going to "take back" the country, as if it had somehow been stolen.

On Tuesday, millions of voters sent a resounding message to the take-it-back crowd: You won't. You can't. It's our country, too.

President Obama and the Democratic Party scored what can only be seen as a comprehensive victory. Obama won the popular vote convincingly, and the electoral vote wasn't even close. In a year when it was hard to imagine how Democrats could avoid losing seats in the Senate, they won seats and increased their majority.

Republicans did keep control of the House, but to call this a "status quo" election is absurd. After the 2010 midterm election, Republicans had the initiative and Democrats were reeling. After Tuesday, the dynamics are utterly reversed.

Don't take my word for it. Listen to the conservative bloviators who were so convinced that Mitt Romney would defeat Obama, perhaps in a landslide, and proceed to undo everything the president has accomplished.

Radio host Rush Limbaugh was almost wistful: "I went to bed last night thinking we're outnumbered. ... I went to bed last night thinking we've lost the country. I don't know how else you look at this." He then launched into a riff about Obama and Santa Claus that is too incoherent to quote. Apparently, we are all elves.

Sean Hannity, on his radio show, was angry: "Americans, you get the government you deserve. And it pains me to say this, but America now deserves Barack Obama. You deserve what you voted for. ... We are a self-governing country and the voice and the will of 'We the People' have now been heard. America wanted Barack Obama four more years. Now you've got him. Good luck with that."

As is often the case, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly was a bit more perceptive: "The white establishment is now the minority," he said Tuesday evening, before it was clear that Obama would win. "The demographics are changing. It's not a traditional America anymore."

No, Bill, it's not.

Blacks made up a record 13 percent of the electorate in 2008. Many analysts attributed this spike in turnout to the novelty of being able to vote for a black major-party presidential candidate. This year, some pollsters factored into their projections the assumption that the black vote would decline to a more "normal" 11 percent.

But on Tuesday, blacks once again were 13 percent of all voters -- and probably played an even bigger role than this number would indicate in re-electing Obama.

Look at Ohio, arguably the most hotly contested swing state. Blacks make up only 12 percent of the state population, but according to exit polls constituted a full 15 percent of the Ohio electorate on Tuesday. Blacks, in other words, were more motivated to vote than whites.

Ohio also happens to be a state where Republican officials sharply curtailed early voting. If, as many suspect, this was a transparent attempt to depress minority turnout by making it harder for working-class Ohioans to vote, it didn't work. In fact, it backfired.

Look at Colorado. In 2008, Latinos were 13 percent of the electorate; just over 60 percent voted for Obama. On Tuesday, Latinos made up 14 percent of Colorado voters -- and, according to exit polls, three-fourths of them supported the president. Think this might have something to do with Romney's "self-deportation" immigration policy? I do.

Nationwide, roughly three of every 10 voters Tuesday were minorities. Blacks chose Obama by 93 percent, Latinos by 71 percent, and Asian-Americans, the nation's fastest-growing minority, by 73 percent.

These are astounding margins, and I think they have less to do with specific policies than with broader issues of identity and privilege. I think that when black Americans saw Republicans treat President Obama with open disrespect and try their best to undermine his legitimacy, they were offended. When Latinos heard Republicans insist there should be no compassion for undocumented immigrants, I believe they were angered. When Asian-Americans heard Republicans speak of China in almost "Yellow Peril" terms, I imagine they were insulted.

On Tuesday, the America of today asserted itself. Four years ago, the presidential election was about Barack Obama and history. This time, it was about us -- who we are as a nation -- and a multihued, multicultural future.

Eugene Robinson is an associate editor and columnist for The Washington Post. Email him at eugenerobinson@washpost.com. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/eugenerobinson.

Comments

kevin 1 year, 5 months ago

Our nation of "sheep" have been tricked into thinking that if you keep things the same in Washington, you will get a different result. Folks have become brain-washed into thinking that it is better to live on the handout from others (government forced) instead of wanting to work to better themselves and their kids. What ever happened to getting support from ones own family and friends? I hope their kids enjoy paying back the continuing largest debt (which the Democrats alone voted for) in the history of this country. You reap what you sow!

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Mack711 1 year, 5 months ago

What ever happened to getting support from ones own family and friend?

Good Question!! Could it be that some of them may be in jail? Or spending their 'entitlement' money on drugs or going out having more kids that the system cannot afford? Mr. Robinson has a one sided view of this election....HIS. Most who work and try to do right have a total different thought.When we stop the entiltment line of thinking then we will return to a better America. After all Romney said that 47% would re-elect him, and they did. In the meant time we just will have to get deeper in debt for the next 4 years under a person who does not know how to be a busines man, or run a country .

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news2me 1 year, 5 months ago

Really? A new America speaks?

From the Huffington Post: As of Noon on Friday, with nearly all votes in, Obama assuredly will win the popular vote, leading Romney by a count of 61,173,739 or 50.5% to 58,167,260 or 48.0%. At this point, a few final votes are being counted and then all that's left is for the results to be officially certified.)

Obama: 61,173,739 or 50.5%

Romney: 58,167,260 or 48.0%

Revenge voters may have won, but it wasn't by a huge margin as Robinson and the liberal media would like us to believe.

Why is it that Republicans must give into all the demands of the entitled Democrats, but they don't have to compromise on anything? The Liberals want a dictatorship of their entitlements, rights, and beliefs - and the Republicans must just give it to them.

Looking at the real numbers from the liberal HuffPo rag, I have faith that our country still has a chance to survive and thrive. The liberals can't keep brainwashing and asking for revenge.

I don't believe in revenge, I believe in Karma.

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Sandykin 1 year, 5 months ago

It's not the status quo? What election are we talking about? Obama was re-elected, where's the change in that? Power in the Senate? Unchanged. Power in the House? Unchanged. I suspect the next 4 years will play out largely like the last 4. Only in liberal America can this be called "not the status quo".

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kevin 1 year, 5 months ago

New does not mean "better," just different.

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notblind 1 year, 5 months ago

Welcome to the USSA. They have adopted the Greek model of economic activity. The shrinking producer class will be squeezed ever more tightly while the taker class grows ever more rapidly.

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