By Jay Feldman
The contrast could not have been starker. We first saw it at the party conventions in August, and on Election Night, there it was again. The televised images of the crowds at President Obama’s victory celebration in Chicago and Mitt Romney’s headquarters in Boston said it all.
In Boston, the faces were lily white; in Chicago, they were white, black, brown and every shade in between. The people at Romney’s gathering were dishearteningly similar, while those at the Obama party were invigoratingly diverse. The Romney faithful were similarly dressed, in shirts and ties and dresses, whereas the Obama throng included the formally dressed and the T-shirt crowd, the clean-shaven and the scruffy, the staid and the colorful.
The Obama victory party, like the Democratic National Convention, was a rainbow-coalition love-fest, and all were welcome.
The demographic breakdown of Tuesday’s vote has far-reaching implications. Exit polls indicate that Romney received 59 percent of white votes, more than any Republican since Ronald Reagan in 1984, yet still lost the election because non-white voters now comprise nearly 30 percent of the electorate, and they cast their ballots for the president in overwhelming numbers.
More than 70 percent of Latino and Asian-American voters and 93 percent of African-American voters chose Obama. The Latino vote, in particular, is a validation of the president’s compassionate stance on immigration and a strong repudiation of Romney’s suggested policy of “self-deportation,” which is code for harassing immigrants until they leave the country, a tactic that has been used by Republican administrations before, during the Great Depression and the 1950s.
In addition to the minority vote, there was the gender gap. While men preferred Romney by a 54-45 percent margin, women favored Obama, 55-44.
The Democrats won this election because they understand the changing demographic makeup of American society, while the GOP remains stuck in an obsolete paradigm. President Obama gained the day because the Democrats’ message of “we’re all in this together” resonates more strongly for a broader swath of the population than does the Republican policy of “you’re on your own.”
It makes perfect sense. Immigrant and minority communities necessarily function on a more cooperative basis. Arguably, women are also intuitively more cooperative.
So the Republicans are not only in disarray in the near run, but also operating at a disadvantage in the long run, because their core values are out of step with 21st-century America. It could be a long time before they catch up.
— Jay Feldman is a Davis resident and author. The paperback edition of his 2011 book, “Manufacturing Hysteria: A History of Scapegoating, Surveillance, and Secrecy in Modern America,” will be released Tuesday.