As state election results poured in late Tuesday night, and it became apparent that President Obama was en route to victory, pundits were quick to declare the nation divided and Mr. Obama lacking a mandate. We could not disagree more. Our nation is not divided. It is in transformation, as a white majority resistant to change refuses to cede to their inevitable minority status. This election was always about race and change. We called it months ago. The Republican Party, driven off the cliff by its right-wing, ran a campaign based on fear mongering and denying the right to vote to people of color. It was a strategy born of desperation and one that backfired. President Obama won because in the end hope vanquished hate.
The vote breakdown reveals a country in which a declining white majority was set back by a coalition of African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, women, labor and homosexuals. It is quite a formidable alliance and one that speaks to America’s future and not its “Ozzie and Harriet” past. While Republicans hold the majority in the House of Representatives, it is a tenuous position that is destined to evaporate under the nation’s rapidly changing demographics. President Obama’s election represents a New Mandate: to make substantial progress in constructing the new America and we celebrate his victory for what it truly represents. Real change.
What pre-election polls and exit polling did not capture was the real shift in who we are as a nation. Pundits got stuck on issues when there was something larger at play. Our nation is no longer the domain of a white electorate that can dictate its policy preferences in national elections. And as much as this was one election, the trend is in the direction of the declining significance of whiteness in America. Yes, the public wants an improved economy and better health care, and better schools and housing, and a more secure future; but the public clamoring for change is a different public that has a different and more inclusive point of view on our nation’s future. That is the real takeaway from President Obama’s historic victory on Tuesday night. The red on the electoral map represents a party in denial, and one that is writing its own epitaph.
The nasty and hateful campaign the Republican Party ran this election cycle, and the racism party members exhibited toward President Obama during his first term, will not be forgotten. The GOP has degenerated into a vile hate group; using the airwaves and its position in public office to advocate for the maintenance of white privilege. Mitt Romney failed the leadership test because he exhibited cowardice in not directly confronting the ugliness in his own party. Instead, Romney pandered to the worst elements of the Republican Party and put his personal interest over that of the country. The former Massachusetts governor did not deserve to win and his exit from the political stage could come none the sooner. Some Republicans are already signaling their intention to be obstructive to the President’s agenda. We should take that as a personal insult and be prepared to rain hell upon Speaker Boehner’s head if the Republican Caucus attempts a legislative coup d'etat. We can no longer sit by and let House Republicans dictate our nation’s future.
Our responsibility as voters who supported the President and as citizens is to join the fight to change America. We can’t sit back this time and expect President Obama to carry all the weight. Our voices and presence must be felt in Washington, DC and we must hold Congress accountable. We must use very means available, including civil disobedience, if the Republican House majority attempts to stymie the President. We can be tolerant while also being unwavering in our intention to see the President’s agenda implemented. It is not a time to gloat or celebrate. It is time to work. Voting was just the first step, and quite frankly, the easiest part. Now, we must engage in the real work of change. It is not glamorous and can be tedious, but if seriously taken on, will result in a sea change of public policy that we have not witnessed since the era of LBJ’s “Great Society.”
So, we move forward, energized and refreshed. There are many challenges ahead but we are invigorated by the fight and prepared to do what is necessary to bring about substantive change in our nation. We congratulate President Obama on a hard-earned and well deserved victory, and pray that he will continue to be guided by his principles.