In an article in TheRoot.com ( http://www.theroot.com/views/gop-awakens-sleeping-black-giant?wpisrc=root_more_news ), veteran Chicago journalist Monroe Anderson correctly points out that republicans awakened a sleeping demographic giant of racial and ethnic minorities, women, gays and other folks not readily pictured whenever someone imagines what a "real American" looks like. While I wholeheartedly agree with President Obama's recognition of his campaign team as the best in the business, no one should be deluded into thinking that both the Romney campaign and the republican party did not together play a significant role in the President's victory. Frankly, I shudder to think what would have happened on Election Night if republicans had not allowed themselves to be defined by and sometimes led by their most bigoted, most misogynistic, most reactionary fringe elements. Mr. Anderson correctly points out that by allowing and at times even embracing such a definition, republicans awakened a demographic giant ready to fight not just to re-elect President Obama, but to ensure it's own survival.
Nearly a half century ago, certain republicans began telling stupid people who to hate, who to resent, who to fear and who to begrudge through the Southern Strategy. Making overt appeals to bigots resentful of the application civil and voting rights to black people worked so well that republicans over time expanded such cynical messaging to the point that today, anyone not white, Christian or heterosexual will suffice as a target of contempt for so-called "Real Americans". Republicans know that they can't win elective office through their policy prescriptions because they benefit only a small subset of the electorate. Driving the republican base to the polls by feeding their resentments was a far easier, far more efficient campaign approach.
Republibaggerservatives remain in stupefied shock at the size and tenacity of the coalition that swept President Obama into a second term and Mitt Romney into general obscurity. Regarding the Romney campaign's gambit of appealing almost exclusively to white voters in his quest for the Oval Office a republican strategist acknowledged:
"This is the last time anyone will try to do this."
Which all but completely admits what some republican office-seekers and political operatives have been doing all along. As a result of the Romney campaign's approach, nearly 90% of the voters who cast ballots for him were white. Apparently, that wasn't enough to offset the massive coalition of the proverbial "other", particularly when so much is perceived to be at stake. Mr. Anderson's giant is indeed awake.
But for how long?
The challenge for democrats is to keep the giant awake during the off-year and state-level elections. Ticket-splitting is not the reason John Boehner remains Speaker of the House of Representatives. Republicans swept into state capitols and legislatures when President Obama's 2008 coalition sat on its hands during the 2010 mid-term elections. The giant was sleeping. With control at the state level, republicans were able to re-draw (gerrymander) congressional district boundaries in a manner that protected republican incumbents. So in spite of the fact that total votes for democratic congressional candidates were approximately 500,000 higher than those cast for republicans, the GOP caucus remains in control. Clearly, elections matter at ALL levels of government and the giant must be as diligent about voting in mid-term elections as it is during the presidential quadrennial campaigns. The 61 million votes President Obama received this year is 56% higher than the 39 million votes cast for all democratic candidates to the House of Representatives in 2010 and more than twice the 29 million votes cast for ALL democratic senatorial candidates. The falloff in republican voter participation in non-presidential elections is not nearly as large.
Supporters of President Obama acted as if our work was done on November 6, 2008, that all of our biggest problems would be ameliorated shortly after inauguration and that our societal desires would be automatically addressed. We have suffered a rude awakening over the last two years and have responded with an emphatic demand to continue moving forward. Frankly, I appreciate republicans for dousing Americans with that bucket of cold water. But if the Obama coalition of voters wants a balanced approach to deficit reduction, protection of Obamacare if not an advancement toward single-payer, strengthening of Social Security and Medicare, investment in education and infrastructure, an end to the failed War on Drugs, protections against systemic catastrophic failure of the capital markets then that coalition cannot go back into hibernation in 2014.