Let the record reflect: I was no Nate Silver, who famously used math to accurately predict the results of all fifty states; I missed one state, North Carolina, which I thought would, once again, go to President Obama. Still, I can’t help but point out that when I predicted Florida, Nate Silver, at the time, was suggesting it would go to Romney, a prediction he revised only twenty-four hours before the election. And it turned out that North Carolina was closer than most had anticipated; Obama lost by only 33,000 votes.
But that said, I’m not suggesting, in any way, that I was prescient or preternaturally insightful; for months, I’ve been telling anyone who would listen that Obama was practically guaranteed to win re-election, and I’m hardly alone in my assessment. Sure, part of it was that I knew, as an Obama supporter, that his campaign was obviously running a superior ground game. Like many Obama supporters, I sometimes received as many as a dozen e-mails a day and at least three letters a week in the mail. They bombarded me with text messages; I received “direct messages” on Twitter from President Obama and Vice President Biden, encouraging me to cast an early vote (which I did), and on the morning of the election, they sent me a message on Facebook, “2,114 people named Lamar have already voted.” With the exception of Lamar Hunt and a few others, I’m fairly certain that 95% of the people named Lamar voted for President Obama. But more importantly, I know that the Obama campaign’s direct voter contact made a difference; it made people feel personally invested in and connected to the campaign.
While I may have been anxious and a little nervous on election night, as the returns began pouring in, I never doubted that Obama would win. I sported a “Louisianans for Obama” t-shirt all day, and more than a couple of people asked me if I was begging for abuse. “You’re brave to wear that shirt around here.” To which I replied, “I’d be brave to wear this shirt in my hometown in Louisiana.”
With the exception of the two campaigns for Alexandria Mayor that I worked on, I don’t think I’ve ever been more confident and assured about any election, even after the first debate in Denver. But my confidence actually had way less to do with Obama’s ground game and much more to do with what I know about his opposition.
America isn’t changing; America has changed. While Republicans and the people on Fox News trafficked in coded racism and insane conspiracy theories, while they lied to the public about health care reform, while they promoted bigotry, while they flooded social media with stories about Obama being born in another country and attempted to advance stories about a cover-up in Benghazi, while they lied about Obama taking this country into socialism, while they insulted a man who graduated at the top of his class at Harvard Law and who became the first-ever African-American editor of the Harvard Law Review by suggesting his college transcripts would reveal that he was just another black kid who benefitted from Affirmative Action, while they deluded themselves into believing that Obama was only being supported by people who were merely motivated to ensure they could keep their welfare checks and food stamps, while they fashioned this election as a referendum against the 47%, the real majority of Americans always knew better. We always knew better. We were smarter than these people, the scum of the earth, a culture of white privilege and white entitlement that is far more pernicious and egregious than could ever be produced by any government program.
And as a white guy named White who was born and raised in the Deep South, I’ve been in close proximity to white entitlement. As a kid, I remember watching Saints games with my extended family and hearing my uncles shout out the “n-word” any time a black player dropped a pass or missed a tackle; they thought they were being funny, and really, they were just demonstrating to me, at a very young age, that they were bigots. Thankfully, after this, my mother and my father would pull me and my siblings aside and remind us that this was wrong and racist and hateful; it embarrassed them. My parents raised me to be tolerant and understanding, and even though my father has been gone for over a decade, I know that if he were alive today, he may have voted for Romney (even though he was a registered Democrat), but he would have still been offended by the racist invectives against Obama. Like my dad, I’ve never understood why anyone– let alone my own family– thinks their overt racism is clever and funny; it’s sad and pathetic.
And no, I don’t think Mitt Romney ran a racist campaign, but he certainly didn’t run against racism. He belonged to a church that, up until 1978, didn’t recognize blacks as full members, a church, by the way, that considers him to be a Bishop. He railed against people who didn’t make enough money to pay federal income taxes, while refusing to sufficiently provide his own tax returns; of the two years of returns he provided, we know that he paid less than 14% in taxes, even though, as a multimillionaire, he should have been paying three-times that rate. He got around that obligation by taking advantage of loopholes. And now, after he loses, Republicans want to talk about how this election was about people wanting “free stuff.”
Many of my family members and friends voted for Mitt Romney, and while I strongly disagree with their votes, I know that most of them weren’t thinking about birtherism or racism or socialism; they just bought Mitt Romney’s pitch as the go-to business executive, the turn-around artist, the slick salesman with the Harvard MBA (even though the word “Harvard” was off-limits). But the right-wing media never gave Romney the opportunity to really make that pitch to most voters, and the Romney campaign didn’t push back.
Republicans don’t deserve to win another election, not until they clean house, not until they learn to celebrate this nation for what it is, and not until they throw out the racists into the trash bin of history.