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The Post-Mortem Post

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.

14 Comments Post a comment
  1. Paul #

    Great post!

    November 11, 2012
  2. My sentiments exactly!

    November 11, 2012
  3. They seem to be doubling down rather than folding this hand. Just as they did the entire election.

    November 11, 2012
  4. In the years to come, the Romney campaign will be seen as a textbook example of what not to do on any front. At least, by those who want to win and/or be moral.

    November 11, 2012
  5. Kelsey #

    You were nervous and anxious but never doubted Obama’s reelection? There would be no feeling of angst or worry if there was never any doubt. It seems that you associate the majority of Romney supporters with your racist extended family. I have never seen anyone act like that, not even my very conservative immediate and extended family. I don’t really believe you when you say that Romney isn’t racist or that he didn’t run a racist campaign when you keep making little jabs that insist that he is and did. Throughout this entire article you tend to say one thing and then prove yourself wrong. You are trying to criticize Romney for being Mormon and for something that his church did in 1978. Previously, though, you are saying that America HAS changed. Yes, it has. As well as many other things, such as the Mormon religion. I’m sure you don’t appreciate people saying that Barrack Hussein Obama is Muslim, even though he was registered as a Muslim as a child in the schools he attended. Things change, right? I see need for a proofreader here.

    November 11, 2012
    • Kelsey–

      “You were nervous and anxious but never doubted Obama’s reelection? There would be no feeling of angst or worry if there was never any doubt.”

      I never said I felt “angst” or “worry.” I said I was nervous and anxious on election night, not because I doubted Obama would win but because– crying out loud– it was election night. I don’t need a proofreader; you need a dictionary.

      “It seems that you associate the majority of Romney supporters with your racist extended family. I have never seen anyone act like that, not even my very conservative immediate and extended family.”

      I don’t believe you, and here’s why:

      “I’m sure you don’t appreciate people saying that Barrack Hussein Obama is Muslim, even though he was registered as a Muslim as a child in the schools he attended.”

      Here are the facts, per the Washington Post:

      Documents viewed by the AP showed that students attending the Fransiskus Assisis Catholic school were registered under one of five different religions: Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Catholic or Protestant. Obama, then known as Barry, attended the school from 1st through 3rd grade as student 203. He later enrolled in Public Elementary School Menteng No. 1, a school incorrectly described by the Washington Times Insight magazine and Fox News as an Islamic madrassa.

      The Brown ad misses out key facts that cast a very different light on Obama’s Muslim connections. At the Catholic school, he was required to participate in Catholic rituals and pray four times a day. Teachers quoted by the Chicago Tribune said that he was probably registered as a Muslim because this was the religion of his then-Indonesian step-father, Lolo Soetero. Like many Indonesians, Soetero was a rather lax Muslim who drank and did not abide by the strict tenets of the faith.

      More importantly, the Brown ad attaches far too much importance to an entry in a ledger written under unknown circumstances more than 40 years ago. The Tribune report notes that the ledger entry was “rife with errors.” It listed Obama as an Indonesian, gave an inaccurate name for his previous school, and made no mention of his mother. It is unclear who wrote the ledger entry, which can be viewed at the school but is unavailable on-line.

      It’s funny to me that as much as Republicans and right-wingers like to talk about Obama’s religion– he was a “registered” Muslim before he was a radical black liberation evangelical– they immediately cry foul when anyone points out that Mitt Romney belonged to a church that practiced institutionalized racism up until the late 1970s; when the Mormon Church finally recognized blacks as full members, Romney wasn’t a six-year-old child who had merely been “listed” as a member of the church; he was a 31-year-old lawyer and business executive who belonged to one of the most influential Mormon families in the country, a family that traces its ancestry back to the very earliest Mormon leaders. And Romney himself is a Mormon leader: He became a Bishop in 1981.

      I completely agree with you: Mormonism has changed since 1978– way, way back when God revealed to them that black people were real people. Apparently, they’re still waiting for God to reveal to them that gay and lesbian Americans are also real people, but, in the meantime, they’ve been willing to spend tens of millions of dollars to build an astroturf campaign against gay marriage in California, all while maintaining their lucrative tax-exempt status.

      All of that said– and I know you’ll think I need a proofreader because nuance is way more difficult to understand than Manichean dichotomies, I’m not hating on Mormonism; it, just like every other religion, is an evolving (pardon the word choice) faith. I bring it up only to highlight the right’s hypocrisy on religion– the ways in which it has insisted on painting Obama as a “secret Muslim” (and with that, the attendant implication that Islam is itself an evil religion of brown people who intend on destroying America), while ignoring the fact that, for the last thirty-five years, Romney has been a leader of a church that excommunicates gays and lesbians, a church that espoused a belief in the sanctity of institutionalized racism until the late 1970s, a church that is still plagued by polygamy and bigamy and child rape.

      So, when I hear people suggest that Obama was a “registered Muslim” or is a “secret Muslim,” despite the fact that he is actually a Protestant Christian, I can’t help but wonder what this is really about. Clearly, it’s not really about religion; it’s about calling into question his identity as an American. Because, let’s be honest here: Mormonism, despite its controversies, is a definitively American religious tradition, a religion that is almost monolithically white and one that is partially defined by its emphasis on entrepreteurship and an abiding belief in free market capitalism, a religion that believes Jesus magically appeared here in North America, even though he spent his entire life within a 300-mile radius of his birthplace.

      Although you may not acknowledge it, the bulk of the animus against Obama was motivated and informed by the playbook of “otherization;” it was about making him appear un-American, a man who, to quote Mitt Romney, promotes “foreign” ideas, a man who Fox News and Donald Trump suggested was actually a foreigner– a black Muslim who lied about his birth certificate so that he could promote a virulent message of radical socialism while surreptitiously infiltrating the highest echelons of American power and government. The truth is, of course, that he is and has always been a man who was born in America, raised by a white family, and educated at the same elite university as Mitt Romney and George W. Bush.

      So, my buddy Nath was right to call you out for the way you framed your argument about “Barack Hussein Obama” being a “registered Muslim.” Racist dog whistling has become so acceptable among right-wing conservatives, they now think it’s perfectly fine for them to pretend as if they’re the real victims of a racist conspiracy. Sorry, but we know what you meant; we know why you said it, and we know how you “think.” You’re not fooling anyone.

      November 12, 2012
      • bullet #

        As long as we’re calling out the Mormons, Lamar, you should be accurate and fair. They only toss out practicing homosexuals. Celibate and self-denying homosexuals are totally cool with them.

        November 12, 2012
  6. “You are trying to criticize Romney for being Mormon and for something that his church did in 1978.”

    Uh, yeah, I think an organization that doesn’t recognize black people as people until public pressure is so enormous that they simply have do deserves criticism.

    “I’m sure you don’t appreciate people saying that Barrack Hussein Obama is Muslim”

    Talk about your racist dog-whistles.

    November 11, 2012
    • Relfx #

      That is his name, isn’t it?

      November 11, 2012
    • Kelsey #

      Calling the president by his full name is a racist dog-whistle? That’s a pathetic.

      November 11, 2012
      • Yeah, when you’re using “Hussein” to imply he’s a foreigner and/or a Muslim, it is. Don’t play dumb.

        November 11, 2012
  7. pilgrim543 #

    Lamar,

    I appreciate your posts very much. Your writing is incredibly clear and reflects a very bright mind. We agree on a lot, both about what is happening in Louisiana and nationally. My wife and I knew your mother very well and admired her a lot. The Whites meant a great deal to our community and are greatly missed. I worked for 16 years at LC as VP for Academic Affairs and, as you would understand, am heart sick about what has happened to what was once a very good school. My wife and I are life-long Democrats and have not always been on the winning side in elections. We are overjoyed and relieved that President Obama was relected. He second term will bring a lot of improvement and take us into our 80s. For both we are very thankful. We wish you the best in your study of law.

    Stan Lott Pineville, LA

    November 11, 2012
  8. Usually I don’t read post on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to try and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, very nice article.

    April 9, 2013
  9. I seldom leave a response, but i did a few searching and wound up here The Post-Mortem Post CenLamar.
    And I actually do have a few questions for you if you don’t mind. Is it only me or does it give the impression like a few of the responses look as if they are written by brain dead individuals? :-P And, if you are posting at other online sites, I would like to follow anything fresh you have to post. Could you make a list of every one of all your community sites like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

    July 11, 2013

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