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In the aftermath of President Obama's reelection, the Republican Party - and their surrogates - have offered a litany of possible explanations for their most recent defeat.  Among the most disingenuous (and offensive) of those explanations is a narrative about real, traditional America.  Indeed, on the night of the election, when pressed to explain what it meant if Obama won reelection, Bill O'Reilly offered the following:

It's a changing country.  The demographics are changing.  It's not a traditional America anymore.  And there are 50% 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 the minority.

Over the past few days, the media has - to an extent - gone along with much of this narrative.  They have accepted as true this premise that Obama's reelection was driven solely (or principally) by changes in the country's racial demographics.  Certainly, demographics had an impact on the election.  But the story has been oversold.  Many pundits, particularly on the political right, have spun this as Obama reelected because of the Hispanic vote.  That is simply dishonest.  Yes, President Obama overwhelmingly won the Hispanic vote and the black vote.  But he also overwhelmingly won the Asian vote.  He won 69% of the Jewish vote.  He won better than 50% of the Catholic vote.  He overwhelmingly won the vote of young people.  And indeed, he won 39% of all white voters, down from his 2008 total, but still relatively consistent with the performance of other Democratic presidential candidates over the past few decades.  

In short, President Obama was reelected with the support of a broad coalition of Americans-- a coalition that is truly representative of the melting pot that is America.  Not surprisingly, Bill O'Reilly's remarks have no basis in reality.  White voters still represent a strong majority of the electorate (73%), and indeed, a majority of Americans, period.  This is fiction and absolutely fodder for the ardent racists who can only conceive of President Obama being reelected in a nation that has gone to hell, fallen from glory, and been overrun by minorities.  

Let us talk for a moment about traditional America.  It seems that folks on the political right have been sounding this alarm in earnest since 2008.  After being tapped as the Republican VP candidate, Sarah Palin repeatedly invoked this concept of real America.  Real America, of course, was that part of America and those Americans who were reliably Republican.  To be candid, real America is rural, white America.  The rest of the nation is simply fictitious.  Sarah Palin presided over some of the most hateful, vitriolic, racist political rallies in modern memory.  This is not exaggeration.  This is a matter of historical record (thank you, YouTube).  The footage is still there.  Throngs of rural, white Americans calling Barack Obama a nigger and saying they'll never let a nigger into the white house, that America won't abide that.  Make no mistake: this is some Birth of a Nation type stuff.  After Obama was elected in 2008, the nonsense continued.  Glenn Beck blathered on and on about his fear for America's future, real America, socialism.  You saw protests, supposedly over healthcare reform, where so-called real Americans screamed about wanting their country back.  

And now, in 2012, Bill O'Reilly takes a page from the same playbook: the death of traditional America and whatnot.  Takers who want government handouts.  Well, that is simply bullshit.  Although anecdotes are a poor substitute for hard data, please indulge me for a moment:  

I grew up in Chambersburg, Franklin County, Pennsylvania.  Franklin County is one of the most conservative counties in the state.  Back in 2001, David Brooks wrote a story for the Atlantic about red America and blue America.  Franklin County was his example of red America.  That is where I am from.  Those are my people.  I grew up in Fayetteville.  I'm multi-racial.  My father is black and Hispanic.  To my knowledge he voted at least once for George W. Bush.  My mother is a staunch Democrat.  I went to public schools.  I lifted weights at the YMCA.  Growing up, I loaded lots of trucks. My little brother won the hay toss championship at the old elementary school.  My family was working class, went through some tough times, but never took a dime of public assistance.  After my folks separated, my mother worked two jobs to keep the house.  During college, I worked the night shift on an assembly line to make money for textbooks.  I dropped out of college because I was broke, but eventually went back.  I taught high school in inner city Baltimore.  I earned a law degree.  I worked for a big firm.  I saved some money.  I started my own firm.  

You want to play that "real American" nonsense, well there you go.  I am from that supposedly real American part of the country.  I am from that supposedly traditional America.  My family and I have all those traditional American values.  You work hard.  You overcome.  You persevere.  You find a way.  You help those who are less fortunate.  You look out for your neighbors.  And I voted for Barack Obama.  Twice. So did my mom.  So did my sisters.  So did my brother.  How dare anybody question our Americanness.  How dare anybody suggest that we support this President because we want some sort of handout.  This is about values and our voting for a President who shares those values.

To state the obvious, nobody has any right to claim the mantle of being a more real American than other Americans solely because of race or geography.  I've been all over.  I've worked construction in San Diego, taught high school English in inner-city Baltimore, done journalism in Honolulu, been a lawyer in Miami.  This notion of a traditional America, a real America-- it is nonsense.  I remember a grandfather in Baltimore City.  It was parent/teacher night.  Only five parents showed up.  One of those who showed up was a young man's grandfather, 68 years old, had taken in both of his grandsons.  He would have retired, but he took in both of those boys, and so he kept working.

I have seen instances of so-called real Americanness in every corner of this country.  I have seen greatness.  I have seen hard work.  I have seen kindness.  I have seen decency.  I have seen bravery.  I have seen these things in every corner of this land.  To claim the mantle of real America only for Kansas or Idaho or Alabama, or only those places that are overwhelmingly both white and Republican, that is dishonest, dangerous and offensive.  

Originally posted to Justashotaway on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 05:59 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Powerful diary (15+ / 0-)

    and a family and personal history of which to be extremely proud.  

    Very few of those who engage in the malevolent rhetoric could match it.

    I am a warrior for peace. And not a gentle man... Steve Mason, 1940-2005

    by Wayward Wind on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 06:15:05 PM PST

  •  People who call themselves "Real Americans" (10+ / 0-)

    have been around for centuries, and are always a couple of generations behind, sometimes too far behind for their own good.

    Like "Back in my day we had real entertainment - radio!"
    or "Back in my day real men chewed tabacky!"

    They took full advantage of fear of Jews, blacks, feminists, gays, Hispanics and anyone else who wasn't them. Now the culture has grown up, caught up, and is biting them in the ass.

    I think that the conservative view of the "Real America" is currently at another one of those points where their baggage is burying them.

    As horrible as they are, it's sometimes helpful to remember that they represent a past we're currently scraping off our shoes.

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

    by Bob Love on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 06:16:41 PM PST

  •  they also write off the entire West Coast. (3+ / 0-)

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 07:34:18 PM PST

  •  Republicans fantasy America vs. the reality (7+ / 0-)

    This is how Republicans fantasize about what 'their' America is like;


    And this is the reality of what 'their' America is actually like;


    Fantasy NEVER matches reality.

    NO. MORE. DEALS. Is that clear enough?

    by Fordmandalay on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 07:41:42 PM PST

  •  No majority likes getting displaced... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SaraBeth, SherwoodB

    but here's the rub, the minority has every right to become the majority. It's starting to happen and the wingnut conservatives don't like it.

    If I had the stomach I'd watch Bullshit Mountain News* and have a good laugh, but I just can't handle their bias.

    (* Fox News)

    Only the weak & defeated are called to account for their crimes.

    by rreabold on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 08:43:46 PM PST

    •  Unless you were wealthy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      You were never in the "majority" so to speak in the first place.

      Wealth people: born on third base
      Non-wealthy straight white males: born in the batter's box
      Everyone else: born in the dugout

      "A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself." - Joseph Pulitzer

      by CFAmick on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 06:48:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Real America vs 'real America' (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thank you for your diary. A compelling, authentic Horatio Algiers story. Truly American.

    "I feel like I'm still waiting to meet my true self. I'm assuming it's gonna be in a dark alley and there's gonna be a fight." ---Rachel Maddow

    by never forget 2000 on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 09:53:31 PM PST

  •  For the record, I am white. (8+ / 0-)

    I think a lot of people like Palin and O'Reilly are scared that they would be treated the same way they have treated minorities for centuries... So, underlying their fear is the realization that they have treated minorities badly, and expect the same treatment in return... it is what THEY would do if the roles were reversed...

    "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." ~ Edward Abbey

    by SaraBeth on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 02:37:03 AM PST

    •  "It's human nature to hate those we have injured." (8+ / 0-)

      - Tacitus, Agricola, Book I, Chapter 42

      Doesn't that sum up today's aryanized Republicans and their end-times paranoia about the black man's revenge? Never mind adjusting to 2012. Their conception of American race relations hasn't even caught up to the Civil War. It's more like they're stuck in Old Hickory's first term, and just heard about Nat Turner.

      The amazing thing is that they indulge this fantasy of looming racial comeuppance, and simultaneously accuse liberals of feeling "white guilt". I've got news for you, GOP. If you think an entire race is bent on revenge, you might have a guilty conscience.

      •  Go over to Stormfront. These people (0+ / 0-)

        are convinced that the entire non-white world hates them, so much so that I actually read a comment from one woman stating that simply calling a black woman attractive, is some how anti-white. They are full of insecurity and can not possible comprehend why anyone might think that they, just for the sake of being white, could have an advantage over everyone else (at least in the U.S.).

        "The government of the many, not the government of the money" - Nancy Pelosi

        by Americantrueandblue on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 12:17:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  My real America is a pretty mixed world. (5+ / 0-)

    People from all sorts of backgrounds populate it. Somebody said it better than I can, but the real America consists of people from all backgrounds being able to coalesce and work together.  Aside from the moral correctness of this, it is also true that this makes us unique in the world and should enable us to work with people anywhere. At least once we figure out what to do with the troglodytes.

    If... the machine of government... is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. ~Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobediance, 1849

    by shigeru on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 03:05:30 AM PST

    •  Exactly (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Americantrueandblue, akze29, wasatch

      One of the inconsistent myths of conservatives is that we are both a "mixing pot" nation and a homogeneous nation of "Judeo-Christian values."   There's a persistent tendency to project themselves as the normal standard.

      I have a conservative brother who presented such a myopia when he said, "People who come here should have to speak the language of the people who were here first."  To which my wife said, "You mean native american languages, right?"

  •  I've always found (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawgrass727, wasatch

    America to be at her finest when she remembers the inscription at the base of Lady Liberty--"the wretched refuse of your teeming shore", come to make good dreams of a better life in this mythical land. That's what feels like the real, true America to me--hopeful migrants end to end.

    •  Today's alien is tomorrow's Real American (4+ / 0-)

      It's grimly amusing that the nativist bloc in the United States has relied on immigration just as much as the country itself. At first the Real Americans consisted only of white Anglo-Saxon protestants, then they opened their ranks to all white protestants, then to all white Christians, and recently to all whites of "Judeo-Christian" heritage.

      All the while, they've imagined that the ethnic and sectarian makeup of the Real American club hasn't changed since time immemorial. It's only recently that unsavory outsiders have arrived and spoiled the perfect harmony.

      When the current nativist coalition becomes too small to make an effective bully, it will relax its standards, invite a new demographic into the clubhouse, and thereby redefine what it means to be a Real American. What characteristic will they pick as their new deal-breaker? Adherence to an Abrahamic religion? English as a first language?

      •  Didn't Ben Franklin (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        once say something along the lines of "Pennsylvania was a colony founded by the British, why should we allow these immigrants come and Germanize us instead of being Anglized?" The people complaining today would say "It's different today than it was then, he was just being prejudiced" if you asked them what's different... well I think we all know why Germans coming here is different than Mexicans or Indians coming.

        "The government of the many, not the government of the money" - Nancy Pelosi

        by Americantrueandblue on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 12:22:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  "Real America" is mainly the South (8+ / 0-)

    And it nauseates me that the same people who celebrate as "heritage" a treasonous act to split the country insist they, and they alone, get to define what it is.

    Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

    by Robobagpiper on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 04:23:03 AM PST

    •  IKR! (6+ / 0-)

      Drives me batty.  I was born in New Bedford, Mass, but I"m not a Real 'Merican because Massachusetts is the bastion of liberals.  
       I say the southerners are NOT real Americans 1. b/c they tried to secede from the union, they suck up my tax dollars, and they still worship that traitor flag.
       Massachsetts is one of the original 13 colonies and if that doesn't make me a real American being born there, I don't know what is.

      I'm so sorry if I'm alienating some of you/ YOUR WHOLE FUCKING CULTURE ALIENATES ME. Bikini Kill

      by pitbullgirl65 on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 05:34:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with you (0+ / 0-)

        on point 3, but I have to say I find it very hypocritical how we can go on about needing to tax the rich to even the playing field and then can smugly go on about how the Red States are just mooches sucking on the government tit. As for the secession, America originally seceded from Britain and were considered traitors then as well, different and more justifiable reasons, but still, I don't think that should be brought up. Bu, most importantly, I don't think we should be like them and telling anyone whether or not they are a "Real American."

        "The government of the many, not the government of the money" - Nancy Pelosi

        by Americantrueandblue on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 12:26:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We smugly go on about it because of their (0+ / 0-)

          hypocrisy; and their insults that we - who subsidize them - are the moochers.

          Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

          by Robobagpiper on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 12:40:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah, um I'm sure most (0+ / 0-)

            of the people who will need the food-stamps and such live in these states, so you can't have ti both ways, you can either want to help  them or ridicule them for it. Your choice. Speaking of hypocrisy though, don't most of the taxes in absolute dollars (whether they have a lower tax rate or not ) come from the top 1-10% and don't the vast majority of them live in states such as California and New York? In which case isn't most of the redistributing from blue to red actually rich to poor. I thought that's what we aspired to?

            "The government of the many, not the government of the money" - Nancy Pelosi

            by Americantrueandblue on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 01:04:05 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  fuck the right wing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    seriously!  It's fun watching their heads explode but I wouldn't waste a second on the diatribe from their shills in the media.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 05:01:54 AM PST

  •  Real America, (4+ / 0-)

    as far as I can tell, is a rural America with an economy driven by small farms. This America now exists only in Iowa, which voted for President Obama.

  •  Leave it to Beaver dreams (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Of course they never mentioned this part.

    "Ward, don't you think you were a little hard on the beaver last night?"

    White-collar conservatives flashing down the street, pointing their plastic finger at me..

    by BOHICA on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 06:10:16 AM PST

    •  Ward = Romney (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BOHICA, SherwoodB, wasatch

      My 11 yo daughter stayed home sick from school recently, and was flipping TV channels.  I had her stop at Leave It to Beaver to give her a sense of the media that I grew up with. (I used to love that show when I as a kid.)

      Laughable and appalling.  I had forgotten how bad it was.  Most laughs were based on mockery and ridicule.  The Beaver always looked hangdog for a reason--everyone was either reminding him how he had messed up, or predicting he would mess up.  Ward noted that only mothers were invited to school meetings with teachers, and Wally pointed out that fathers were unwelcomed because they tried to be  too dominant with the teachers (tho he didn't use those words).  etc.  

      The worst / funniest part occurred when Ward, as a know-it-all, diminished one of  June's opinions,and my daughter said, "Hey, he looks and acts like Mitt Romney."

  •  Most people who say "Real America" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    have never ventured outside their home counties - to them "real America" is "rural America".

    If not us ... who? If not here ... where? If not now ... when?

    by RUNDOWN on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 06:17:05 AM PST

  •  James Carville said it best on (6+ / 0-)

    Bill Maher last night, to paraphrase:

    "Oil companies, they don't want stuff. Banks, they don't want stuff. Insurance companies, they don't want stuff. But parents who don't want their daughter with leukemia kicked off of their insurance, they want stuff."

    "A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself." - Joseph Pulitzer

    by CFAmick on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 06:45:03 AM PST

  •  Some folks don't like change (0+ / 0-)

    I live in New Hampshire. This is one state that has seen
    major demographic changes in the last 20 years.

    The demographic shifts are most notable in Urban areas.

    The Rural areas are a virtual time capsule of what this state
    looked like 100 years ago. Lots of folks still heat their homes
    in the Winter with Wood burning stoves.

    The folks in the Rural areas have social and political attitudes
    that are as Old as their wood burning stoves. They will
    accept New ideas when God stops making trees for Firewood.

    On Giving Advice: Smart People Don't Need It and Stupid People Don't Listen

    by Brian76239 on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 06:52:57 AM PST

  •  O'Reilly Sounds Like an 1850 Know-Nothing (4+ / 0-)

    Railing about how the bestial Irish are destroying the "real America" with their drunkeness, laziness, voodoo religion, and capacity to breed like rats.

    O'Reillys (along with Murphys and O'Sullivans) destroyed "the real America" 170 years ago.

    Dulce bellum inexpertis [War is sweet only to those who have no experience of it].

    by Fatherflot on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 07:13:59 AM PST

  •  Why does everyone forget our Motto? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dabug, wasatch

    e plurubus unim Out of Many, One.

    Diversity has always been America's greatest strength.  Nativist opposition to immigration has been around since the 1820s(!), but has always been wrong.

    A more racially diverse America is not the end of the country, it is the fulfillment of America's promise, enabled by the slogan.

    We have no desire to offend you -- unless you are a twit!

    by ScrewySquirrel on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 07:22:50 AM PST

  •  A wonderful (0+ / 0-)

    diary.  Thank you!

  •  The Real Americans (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rusted, wasatch

    I've spent the last few minutes looking for a quote that I read in the last few days that brings this point home. It was a link from another diary or from a "link from a link." the quote was from a women who attended the Boston "Victory" celebration after the race was called for Obama. She said something to the effect that she was absolutely shocked about the results. Paraphrasing her quote she said, "This is not the America I know. I guess I've lost touch with America."

    When I read that quote I thought, no kidding. When you live in the 1%, you do lose touch with real Americans.

  •  I am an Authentic American (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am a legal citizen, who has also happened to serve this country, who has paid her taxes, who votes her conscience in our elections.

    All my neighbors are authentic Americans too. Some of them have similar stories, some don't. We don't all vote the same way, some go to church and some don't. Some are religious and some are not. Some are White and Some are of another cultural extraction. Some are women and some are men.

    "Real American" is a dog Whistle for "culturally White" it's a proxy for a specific religious bent [primarily dominionism] and it is the blood brother to white power racism. It seeks to hide in plane site behind token spokespeople of various races, while simultaneously pushing the agenda listed above. It is homophobic, misogynistic, and promotes a form of therapeutic theology that embraces narcissism as if it were a virtue and not a pathology.

    That is why that phrase makes me vomit just a little in my mouth every time I hear it or read it. It is a cover something disgusting and unclean, and I just don't have it in me to pretend not to notice the difference between rabid jingoism and genuine, beneficial and compassionate patriotism.

  •  This reminds (0+ / 0-)

    me of that South Park episode where Cartman goes raving about how he hates the water park because it's 60% minority, when Kyle, the Jewish kid whom he hates, points out if that's true then that just means they aren't really minorities. The point is the same. How many of these people actually no what the word minority means and don't just use it as euphemism for "black and brown people?"

    "The government of the many, not the government of the money" - Nancy Pelosi

    by Americantrueandblue on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 12:12:40 PM PST

  •  Even Alaska gave Obama 41% of the vote. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  I'm white and rural. (0+ / 0-)

    However, I'm also agnostic and a Democrat, not to mention a lady who likes having autonomy over my ladybits, so I suppose that disqualifies me from Real America (tm).

    It was damn crazy, and still is, how angry they are that everyone doesn't agree with them.  I suppose just discounting them is easier for these delusional folks than simply accepting reality.

    Remember! "Fan" is short for "Fanatic"!

    by Anjana on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 12:36:44 PM PST

  •  Gawd-dammitall (0+ / 0-)

    THANK you!  That was beautiful.

    There's no cure for stupid, and won't be if you keep cutting the funding for the research.

    by Ref on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 04:17:24 PM PST

  •  this is the diary that speaks (0+ / 0-)

    the truth to every american. Those that are able to understand the truth, and even those in denial.
    This diary should be used to formulate "the message" going forward.
    Thank you very much. I see and "know" the reality of which you speak, I am just not as good as you are in "arguing the facts of the case"

    The velcro scociopath,bishop willard mitch romney.

    by longtimelurker on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 05:15:40 PM PST

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