What Propelled Obama to Victory and Sent the Plutocrats and Racists to a Brutal Defeat
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On Tuesday night Barack Obama – who had led Mitt Romney in most Electoral College projections every single day of this race – won the election that he was supposed to. But that win represented so much more than a victory for a moderate Democrat. We hear that every election is the most important election of our lives -- it's a cliché. This year, it may well prove to be true.
The diverse, creative, younger coalition that propelled the first black president – a guy whose middle name is Hussein – to the presidency, beat back what may well have been the last stand of Ronald Reagan's coalition of plutocrats, white working-class men and religious conservatives. The Republican party, with its deep-pocketed donors and extensive network of supportive media and think-tanks remains viable for the immediate future – thanks in part to some dramatic gerrymandering in 2010 – but the demographic head winds it faces will soon be too powerful to overcome. The GOP's most reliable supporters remain white, married couples who identify themselves as Christians, a group that continues its sharp decline in numbers.
Women, especially unmarried women, delivered a sharp blow to those “limited government” conservative men who feel entitled to regulate their reproductive choices and are intent on making them miserable – with waiting periods and vaginal probes and the forced consumption of anti-abortion propaganda – if they make a choice that conflicts with the beliefs of the religious right.
A fifth hard-right justice won't be seated on the Supreme Court for the next four years -- a lost opportunity for the Chamber of Commerce and a potential victory for Roe v Wade, the Voting Rights Act and a slew of other key precedents.
Although it's unlikely that the war is over, the politics of playing on white racial anxiety lost a major battle on Tuesday night as well. The Romney campaign, as my colleague Adele Stan wrote, “pushed the boundaries of 'acceptable racism' to extremes.” The dog-whistles from the conservative media went far beyond, yet it wasn't enough to win it for Romney.
Tens of millions of Americans who were priced out of the insurance market won big on Tuesday. Rather than seeing a concerted effort to strangle “Obamacare” in its cradle, the administration's signature achievement will be fully implemented, and hopefully then built upon and improved in the same way Social Security and Medicare were. Millions of poor people will get tax-funded, single-payer healthcare through an expanded Medicaid program and tens of millions more will come to realize that there are no death panels, but there are subsidies for small businesses to provide insurance for their workers, and more subsidies for middle-class families that have been getting squeezed to death by the growing burden of their heal-care costs. Watch the popularity of Obama's health-care reforms rise over the next four years. That will also be a victory over the right's almost religious belief that “the market” can cure all our ills.
Voters and election protection activists scored a very hard-fought win over those who believe that some Americans have a greater right to vote than others. Efforts to suppress the vote among typically Democratic-leaning groups was flagrant and widespread. But Americans waited in the cold on those 6-hour lines, they got the right ID and jumped through whatever hoops they had to. And the lawyers blocked or blunted many of the worst restrictions on our right to vote. Small-d democracy won on Tuesday. Karl Rove, with his plan to use the concocted specter of voter fraud to gain a structural advantage lost.