Mitt Romney received 59 percent of the white vote, and whites comprised 72 percent of all voters. This in and of itself was a huge advantage, and if the Republicans had been at all competitive with the minority vote, should have guaranteed his victory, even given the advantage President Obama had with women voters. But it didn’t. The two most influential conservative pundits correctly pointed out what had happened, but it’s glaringly obvious that neither understood exactly why it had happened.
First, Rush Limbaugh:
I went to bed thinking last night that we are outnumbered. I went to bed last night thinking [about] all this discussion we’d had about this election being the election that will tell us whether or not we’ve lost the country. I went to bed last night thinking we’ve lost the country. I don’t know how else you look at this. The first wave of exit polls came in at 5 o’clock. I looked at it. I read the first two pages and I said to myself, “this is utter BS” and I forwarded the exit poll data that I had to three or four people and my message to each of them: “this is utter BS and if it isn’t then we’ve lost the country”
Rush Limbaugh was in utter denial, wallowing in the first stage of GOP grief as described in this rather brilliant article in The Daily Beast. But it was Bill O’Reilly who first began to put together what had happened:
“The white establishment is now the minority, 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. It’s not a traditional America anymore.”
But neither of them really understands where the real disconnect between the GOP and America’s minorities lay. Again, Rush Limbaugh:
“Let me take you back to the Republican convention. We had Susan Martinez, female Hispanic governor of New Mexico. We had Condoleeza Rice, African American, former secretary of state. Both of those people, eminently qualified, terrifically achieved; they have reached the pinnacles of their profession.
We had Marco Rubio. We had a parade of minorities who have become successful Americans, and they all had a common story: hard work. Their parents sacrificed for them…. They worked hard…their stories evoked pride.”
This is the first point: Limbaugh, and so many other Republicans, saw a “parade of minorities.” The rest of us saw it for what it was: Republican tokenism. Is this really so different from Romney’s disastrous “binders full of women“? There’s a big difference between tokenism and true acceptance, and that difference was glaringly obvious in the generally lily-white nature of every Republican political rally as opposed to the racial and cultural spread that characterized Democratic rallies.
Limbaugh and O’Reilly unwittingly demonstrated this difference. From Limbaugh:
Conservatism, in my humble opinion, did not lose last night. It’s just very difficult to beat Santa Claus. It is practically impossible to beat Santa Claus. People are not going to vote against Santa Claus, especially if the alternative is being your own Santa Claus…Romney’s recipe was the old standby: American route to success, hard work. That gets sneered at. I’m sorry. In a country of children where the option is Santa Claus or work, what wins?
And look again at what O’Reilly said from the reference above:
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?
So the two most influential conservative pundits, whose words have made and broken major Republican politicians, both claim that minorities (and women, according to O’Reilly) voted for President Obama because they, the minority voters, feel that they are entitled to the gifts that the federal Santa will bring. There lay the difference, the disconnect between the Republican elite and the ever-browner American people, the very reason for the lily-white nature of Republican political rallies. And that’s what led to the disaster that shocked the Republican party on November 6th.