Obama’s re-election: more historic than 2008?

Jonathan Martin on Politico called the obvious on the eve of the elections: "The GOP coalition is undergirded by a shrinking population of older white conservative men from the countryside, while the Democrats rely on an ascendant bloc of minorities, moderate women and culturally tolerant young voters in cities and suburbs. This is why, in every election, since 1992, Democrats have either won the White House or fallen a single state short of the presidency." And he quotes Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): "If we lose this election there is only one explanation—demographics." In the actual event, Romney won 59% of the white vote, according to exit polls, a whopping twenty-point margin over Obama. "If only white people had voted on Tuesday, Mitt Romney would have carried every state except for Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut and New Hampshire," Jon Wiener writes in The Nation. "Even in the deepest blue states, white voters went for Romney: 53 percent in California, 52 percent in New York, 55 percent in Pennsylvania. Liberals hoped that whites who opposed Obama in 2008 would learn toleration and acceptance of racial difference after four years with a black president in the White House. But what happened was the opposite: Romney won 4 percent more of the white vote in 2012 than John McCain won in 2008."

Wiener entitles his column "The Bad News About White People." And yes, it is depressing that white people continue to be so stupid. But nor should it be surprising; racism has always been the mechanism by which the white working class is manipulated into betryaing its own class interests. Way back in the Watergate scandal, Nixon said to his aide HR Haldeman behind closed doors: "The whole problem is the Blacks. We have to devise a system to keep them in check." (Quoted in The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in The Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander.) (Which, if you haven't figured it out, is what the War on Drugs is about.) The New York Times, on the release of Haldeman's diaries in 1994, rendered it as: "[Y]ou have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to." (Emphasis added.) Hence the use of code words ("welfare cheats," "personal responsibility," "tough on crime," "state's rights," etc.). But this time, the Republicans came just shy of blatantly playing to white supremacism. The coded racism was just barely coded—if at all

But few are noting how in a very significant way, Obama's second election is more historic than his first: 2012 marks the first time a US president has been elected without a majority of the white vote. And here's some good news: The US Census Bureau reported earlier this year that "minority" births outnumbered whites for first time. (LAT, May 17) So, while we object to the loaded word "minority," it is clear that playing to the racist vote is only going to result in diminishing returns for the Republicans as the USA goes deeper into its inevitable demographic shift. Of course this also explains both the radicalization of the GOP and why white people keep going postal.

The white race (by which we mean the social construct, of course) is fast headed for its inevitable historical destiny of extinction. How much of a mess it will make on its way down remains to be seen…


  1. A good article, but …
    We would have to know more about the White vote for Romney than just race to really understand what’s happening.
    52% of New Yorkers voted for Romney, but 48% voted for Obama.
    That’s hardly a decisive racial commitment on the part of Whtie New Yorkers.
    I thought the statement in the article that this is the first election in which a president had won with the majority of Whtes against him was incorrect, so I looked it up.
    As this page shows, http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1023/exit-poll-analysis-2008 , 55% of Whites voted against Obama last time.

    One of the biggest surprised I got in the last few years was finding out (from the book, Lies My History Teacher Told Me) that the majority of working class people were opposed to the Vietnam War long before the professional middle class came into opposition.
    Many of the issues dividing the Democrats and Republicans – the voters, not the politicians – are the same as those which divided the voters in the I,96Os and 7Os: drugs, crime, warlike foreign policy, and race.
    The fact that homosexual marriage continues to make headway, along with marijuana legalization, suggests that most Americans – including about 45% of White people – want to move in progressive directions.

    I agree that the country is becoming more divided, but the actual allegiances of the factions are not simply racial – and maybe not even primarily so.
    It’s too bad George McGovern died before the election.
    Of all persons, he would have understood and taken heart that the silent majority which came out in droves to defeat him 4O years ago has now become an imbittered, vocal minority.

    1. OK, not so historic after all.
      You mean 52% of white New Yorkers, of course.

      But thanks for the correction. Indeed, Wiener wrote that “Romney won 59 percent of the white vote… 4 percent more of the white vote in 2012 than John McCain won in 2008.” 59-4=55. Math was never my strong suit.

      OK, not so historic after all.

  2. Straight from the horse’s ass… er, mouth
    From Politico, Nov. 6:

    Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly said tonight that if President Barack Obama wins re-election, it’s because the demographics of the country have changed and “it’s not a traditional America anymore.”

    “The white establishment is now the minority,” O’Reilly said. “And the voters, many of them, feel that the economic system is stacked against them and they want stuff. You are 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?”

    “The demographics are changing,” he said. “It’s not a traditional America anymore.”

    O’Reilly said 50 percent of the voting public are people who “want stuff. They want things. And who is going to give them things? President Obama. He knows it, and he ran on it.”

    Wow, can you imagine the temerity of those ingrates to “want things”? Like three meals a day and being able to pay the rent or mortgage on time, and being able to help your kid through college, and getting relief after a hurricane wipes out your home? Unbelievable.

  3. More from the horse’s… er, mouth
    This time from Romney himself. From the NY Times’ The Caucus blog, Nov. 14:

    Saying that he and his team still felt “troubled” by his loss to President Obama, Mitt Romney on Wednesday attributed his defeat in part to what he called big policy “gifts” that the president had bestowed on loyal Democratic constituencies, including young voters, African-Americans and Hispanics.

    In a conference call with fund-raisers and donors to his campaign, Mr. Romney said Wednesday afternoon that the president had followed the “old playbook” of using targeted initiatives to woo specific interest groups — “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.”

    “In each case, they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Mr. Romney said, contrasting Mr. Obama’s strategy to his own of “talking about big issues for the whole country: military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs and so forth.”


    “With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” Mr. Romney said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”


    “You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge,” Mr. Romney said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”

    Right, a healthcare plan for someone making $25,000 a year is a cynical “gift,” but of course a tax-cut for the super-rich is adhereing to principle. Perfectly obvious.


  4. Another Nixon aid on racist origins of drug war

    Everybody's talking about it, but just for the record. From Dan Baum's piece in the current edition of Harper's arguing for drug legalization…. A 1994 quote he says he got from Nixon aid John Ehrlichman, which just now sees light of day…

    At the time, I was writing a book about the politics of drug prohibition. I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away. "You want to know what this was really all about?" he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. "The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did."

    I must have looked shocked. Ehrlichman just shrugged. Then he looked at his watch, handed me a signed copy of his steamy spy novel, The Company, and led me to the door.

    One wonders why Baum sat on this quote for over 20 years, and of course Ehrlichman is no longer around to confirm it. But nor is it at all implausible…