"It makes me wonder who my fellow citizens are. I've got to be honest, I feel like I've lost touch with what the identity of America is right now. I really do." —Boston Republican voter Marianne Doherty, on her feelings following Obama's reelection.
Poor, scared, Bostonian white lady Marianne Doherty is not alone today. Last night, with Virginia bending toward President Obama more and more by the minute, cartoonish Fox alarmist Bill O'Reilly used the smarts he got at Harvard to whinge that Obama was winning because "the white establishment is now a minority" and blacks, Latinos, women, and other groups want "stuff." Later, when Obama was the clear winner, O'Reilly's fellow idiotic rich man Donald Trump went apoplectic on Twitter, calling for a "revolution" to take back the country, a vague call to violence he's since deleted.
Across America today, conservatives, many of them white and old, are wondering what went wrong. How did a black guy with a Muslim name beat his aged wealthy opponent and his opponent's exciting young running mate—again? There are a host of missteps one can point to in Romney's campaign, of course: his inability to articulate any real economic plans, his unwillingness to be fully transparent about his own finances, the time he was caught calling half the country lazy takers to a room full of other millionaires. All of that stuff and more certainly didn't help Romney during his bid for the White House. But if you'll allow me to take a step back and speak in blunter terms, what happened last night is this: The brown people and the black people and the women handed the white men's asses to them as unsentimentally as white men have bought and sold and manipulated America for centuries now. Welcome to the future.
Though this election cycle was steeped in a deep skepticism of math and its proponents—"Unskew the world!"—it would do conservatives well to look at some numbers today: 75 percent is the chunk of the Latino vote that went to Obama, according to polling data, along with 93 percent of blacks. Seventy-three percent of Asians broke for the president, and only 44 percent of women voted for Romney.
Not that Team Romney was shocked by the electorate's racial divisions, of course, as it had intentionally banked on courting the majority of the white vote and ignoring minorities: "Romney's camp is focused intently on capturing at least 61 percent of white voters," noted the National Journal in August. "That would provide him a slim national majority—so long as whites constitute at least 74 percent of the vote, as they did last time, and Obama doesn't improve on his 80 percent showing with minorities." As we know now, things didn't work out as they planned.
In a mostly white America, these realities are bad enough. But adding to the GOP's woes is that, in just a couple decades, the U.S. is going to be a country where brown people outnumber white people by a lot—then they're double-fucked.
The grim realization that the world is a far different and more diverse place than it once was has fallen like a shadow over the GOP since its defeat last night, and the resultant fear is turning its already pallid complexion an even lighter shade of alabaster. Besides the over-the-top, RAcialHOlyWAr kvetching from O'Reilly and Trump, Fox News contributor Dick Morris, who had predicted an Obama trouncing, is eating a big black crow today. "[T]his is the new America," he said on Fox after Romney's loss. Adding: "The percentage of single women, minorities and voters under 30 is so large at this point that unless the Republican Party fundamentally changes its appeal to those voters, it can never win an election."
There is a new generation of Reagans and Gingriches out there somewhere. There are probably even more than a few of them who are Latino. The task of conservatives and Republicans is to find them, cultivate them, and get behind them.
Predating the Republican acknowledgment that it needs minorities in its ranks by a few hours was Politico editor-in-chief John Harris, who said on C-SPAN early last evening that he thinks the Romney-Ryan ticket will be the last one composed solely of white men in American history.
While only time will tell if Republicans will go the way of the Whigs before them, other entities outside of politics should learn from the GOP's all-white fumbling. Earlier this year, new indie comedy grrrl Lena Dunham made a TV show about living in Brooklyn that, like so many New York shows before it, cast minorities as mostly bums and nannies, colorful background noise to the white girl tragi-comedy unfolding weekly. The backlash—of which I was a part—was instant and sustained. Last month, after a much ballyhooed 2011 relaunch, Newsweek announced that it would cease publishing at the end of this year after a brief run in which race baiting Muslims became a business tactic. The now defunct Newsweek's "Muslim Rage" stunt was, once again, roundly and instantly condemned.
Increasingly, the message in America is clear: If your organization or project is a myopic den of white homogeneity, or if your strategy for success includes trying to gin up fear around people who are different, you are destined for irrelevance, and nobody will care how rich you are, or who your daddy is, or at what ivy-draped liberal arts school you cut your perfect teeth. Those who haven't learned that lesson are mocked, shunned, or, worse, totally ignored. Either way, they don't win elections.
If you'd like to follow the Republican example and turn your nose up at diversity and bridge-building between races, genders, and creeds, more power to you. It is, as the call of children and patriots alike says, a free country. But don't be surprised when you end up like Romney in his final moment last night: red-eyed, tired, dizzy, and congratulating the black guy who just beat him at his own game.