The Mysterious Voter

Conservatives are puzzled, perplexed, astonished by voters. They are still unable to believe that they lost the presidential election, that they were trounced in the Senate and that they lost the popular vote in the House of Representatives. Mit Romney was so assured that he would win the Presidency that he had not even prepared a concession speech.

The Romney campaign surrounded itself with their favorite echo chamber chorus, hearing only those voices that they wanted to hear. At one point during the campaign when President Obama was polling far better than they were, they claimed that the polls were inaccurate, that the pollsters were clearly questioning mainly Democratic voters. They would not believe that people were not giving them a mandate for their positions. Any suggestion that they might lose the election just did not enter their thoughts.

Mitt Romney laid out his understanding of why he lost the campaign.  This is what he said:

“The Obama campaign was following the old playbook of giving a lot of stuff to groups that they hoped they could get to vote for them and be motivated to go out to the polls, specifically the African American community, the Hispanic community and young people.”

What Mitt Romney believes is that Obama offered stuff to voters to get them to vote for him. What kind of stuff was the president offering as bribes for his voting block?

First, he offered young undocumented immigrants a path to legal status, where they would no longer live under the threat of deportation for the slightest legal infraction. Young people that did not break the law, that pledged allegiance to the American flag, and were prepared to work to attain legal status would be given the ability to become legal at some point.

We should remember that these children were not given a choice as to whether they ought to be in this country or not, their parents brought them here and proceeded to make a life in this country. Many of these undocumented immigrants work long, hours at difficult jobs, for low wages, under the constant threat of deportation, of having their families torn from them.

All they want is to make a life for themselves and their children. The children were not asked, they were brought here and made a life here, grew up among American children, went to school. They are no different than the children born here. Is it a gift to live without the threat of deportation, to be able to attend college, to rent an apartment, to be able to find a job without worrying about immigration officers storming into their place of work and dragging them away, or rousing them from their slumbers and walking them away in chains?

Romney then mentions African Americans, as though only African Americans are poor, that there arent millions of children of other races that go to school hungry every morning and rely on the breakfast and lunch that they receive there. Romney says imagine being an African American voter earning $25-$30,000 that can now get free healthcare, worth as he puts it, $10,000 per year. Likewise with Hispanic voters, free healthcare obviously moved them to vote for Obama.

Now, every developed country on the planet with the exception of the United States has some form of universal health care. This is the only country that does not. Countries do it because it is the right policy, the honorable thing to do, to make sure that your population is healthy.

Precisely how does Romney believe that someone earning $25k per year is going to be able to afford $10k per year after paying for social security, medicare, rent, transport, food, education, clothing, utilities? Does he really believe that the poor should just lay down and expire if they cannot afford healthcare? When did life become a gift to toss around with glib abandon?

Government has one major task with regards to its people. It must ensure that its people are safe and secure. You cannot be safe and secure if you are ill, when your life is at stake. The government that does not extend a helping hand when its citizens are ill has failed in its duty to those people.

Romney claims that Obama evolved in his approach to gay marriage just in time for the election. Obama was dealing with a lot of major issues during his term, issues that the Republicans made almost impossible to accomplish through their opposition to anything that he proposed. He came around on gay marriage because it is the right thing to do. Across the world, more countries are now accepting gay marriage.

Bill O’Reilly, commentator on Fox New had his own interpretation on why Romney lost. He claims that it is because the demographics are changing, that this is no longer the traditional America that it once was. As Jon Stewart on the Daily Show pointed out, correctly, demographics are always changing, and that is true all over the world. Populations do not stay the same, they change, evolve, become more or less religious, more or less Catholic or Protestant or Muslim or secular.

O’Reilly is an Irish name, a group at one point in American history vilified as coarse, lacking in intellect, mostly criminals and vagabonds. When the Italians arrived on these shores, similar claims were made about them, and the same was true of a host of nationalities, from the Scots that populated the Appalachians, to the Germans that lived in the upper mid west, Chinese in San Francisco and a host of others. The same racially biased accusations are levelled against Hispanics and other minorities today.

Republicans are trying to justify the fact that Obama won, and their rhetoric is irrational, not founded on fact or evidence.

The real reasons that Republicans lost so badly is not the make-up of the electorate. Obama won among women by more than ten points, among African Americans Obama won ninety percent of the vote, Latinos over seventy percent. He won the youth vote, the gay vote and dozens of smaller sub categories. He did not do this by offering “stuff”.

Obama won by appealing to a range of people. These people soundly rejected the Republican ideology. People were tired of handing tax cuts to the wealthy, listening to talk of cutting social programs. Most people work hard, long hours, often at dispiriting work, like the fast food industry, for low wages in sub standard conditions. Republicans appeal to an exclusive group of Americans. They are mostly white, mostly male, mostly older, and mostly wealthier.

What the Republicans do not understand is that you cannot insult the very people that you want to get to vote for you, and expect that you will receive their vote. What the must start to realize is that you must invite as many people as possible into the tent, embrace them and their needs, desires, beliefs and wants. You must show them that they matter, that their lives, jobs, families, religious beliefs, education, health are important to them.

Voters are not there to vote for you. You are there to represent them and their wishes. You do not get to vote yourself into office and spend the next few years ignoring the needs of your constituents and handing as much as you can to large, powerful corporations and wealthy donors. If we wanted a country like that, we could live in Saudi Arabia, or the Congo, or Somalia. here in the United States, the nation needs to pull together as one, make it easier for people to grow, to work, to prosper.

Until Republicans start to act like adults and not petulant, spoilt children, they will not succeed in the electoral process.

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