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.So begins Eugene Robinson in this Washington Post op ed for Friday's dead tree edition.
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.
Robinson goes through the reactions of many right wingers, such as Limbaugh, Hannity and O'Reilly. He credits O'Reilly with being more perceptive than the others, including saying “The demographics are changing. It’s not a traditional America anymore.”
To which Robinson responds simply, No, Bill, it’s not.
Please keep reading.
Robinson goes to the demographic changes in the electorate that voted. In Ohio African-Americans made up 15% of the turnout, up from 11% four years ago, and exceeding their 12% share of the population. That, and the turnout of Latinos in places like Colorado, were in part in reaction to the attempts to suppress their votes.
Take the latter. In four years their share went from 13%, of which 60% voted for Obama, to 14%, of which 3/4 voted for the President.
Robinson goes through the statistics of minority voters, who made up almost 3/10ths of the electorate, and who voted in overwhelming percentages for the President. He attributes this less to identity politics and much more to the reaction towards specific policies:
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 this I think Robinson is absolutely on target. The attempts to demonize the President began to energize the African-American community. The attempts to suppress their votes made those from that community determined to turn out and exercise the right for which so many had struggled and for which some had died. The xenophobic attitudes toward the Latino community similarly resulted in an increased participation and commitment to supporting the President.
Remember this fact - each month another 50,000 Latinos turn 18. This represents a long-term threat to the viability of the Republican party if it continues on its current path, which includes demonizing those of Latino descent.
Remember also this - Obama won a majority of the Cuban-American community, the younger portion of which experiences the hostility and denigration directed towards Latinos while no longer being fueled by anti-Castro feelings that so shaped the earlier generations.
Our nation is changing, even more than it already has during my 66 years on earth. We have lived through the Civil Rights era, a time of women becoming empowered economically, socially, and politically (and now we have 20 women in the US Senate), and those whose sexuality is different (with three states now having had voters legalize marrige equality).
We are changing. I think for the better.
The chattering class, and politicians of all stripes should pay attention.
To what is happening, and to these final words of Eugene Robinson's column:
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.Peace.