A wonderful Thanksgiving behind me, having managed to enjoy generous hospitality in Wichita Falls while keeping my mouth shut about Obama. But now it's the morning after, and Monsieur Gilles de la Tourette beckons. I blame a thought-provoking piece on today's Dallas Morning News op-ed page by the Reverend Gerald Britt.
Britt takes apart the post-election secretly recorded Romney phone call in which Romney blamed his defeat on America being a nation of mooches. That was the part of yesterday's prayer that I said silently to myself: "Also, I am thankful for Governor Romney's secretly recorded phone calls."
Britt comes to the conclusion that women, young people, African-Americans and Hispanics voted against Romney and the Republican Party because, "they're just not that into you," echoing a thought that has been rattling around in my own head. It's just this. Isn't it great not having to hear all of that terribly negative bet-against-America bile that the Republican Party was peddling in the last weeks of the campaign? It was all about America as the last gasp of the Roman Empire, the crappiest nation on Earth where nobody in his right mind would want to live.
So yesterday while I was giving thanks, I did find myself thinking (wordlessly) about the Obama voters. Who were they and why? According to Pew Research, the big Obama pluralities were among women, African-Americans, Latinos and people ages 18 to 44.
Romney views those people as the mooches, the bribe-takers. But on a beautiful day in Wichita Falls when I am walking in a park enjoying the sun on my face and keeping my mouth shut, I can just as easily think of all of those voters as the people who hope, the ones who have something to gain as opposed to something to keep, the people who are on the make as opposed to on the take, the ones with reason to bet on the future instead of the past.
In fact it's not unreasonable to look at those vote tallies and see one big headline above them: HOPE VOTES. People don't vote if they think it's an exercise in futility. They do vote if they think they have a shot. So maybe what this outcome proved was the Republicans were dead wrong in all of that derision they heaped on hope during the campaign. Hope did not die. In fact hope just kicked their asses.
I'm reading Why Romney Lost, the insta-book by former George W. Bush speech-writer David Frum in which he suggests his fellow Republicans have been suffering from some deep-running self-delusion since 2008. He points out that the damage George W. did to the economy hurt Republicans at least as much as it did Democrats.
"How were they to make sense of this disaster?" he asks. "It was hard enough to endure an economic crisis without having to wonder whether you might have brought it upon yourself."
The whole Obama-hatred syndrome, Frum says, could be viewed as a kind of mass mental problem: "The mind has a solution for traumas too painful to think about, and that solution is displacement."
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In other words, if you were a big Bush supporter, and if his Jesse James Wall Street policies cost you your nest-egg, blame it on Obama. Then at least it's not your own fault. My own suspicion is that the mental deformities go back way farther than 2008. What did we think Ronald Reagan's "Southern strategy" was all about, anyway? He just liked people in the South better? Did that include black people in the South?
We know better. It was the original Republican dog whistle -- an appeal encouraging people to think of themselves as threatened whites. So now a third of a century later, it turns out threatened whites aren't numerous enough to win national elections. And sure, the GOP is talking about turning on a dime and changing the base to "threatened whites and however many Hispanic and black people we need to make back the margin."
I don't think so. Gerald Britt is right: After all this time and this many secretly recorded phone calls, those folks just aren't that into the GOP. Meanwhile the leadership may decide to turn on the dime for vote-getting purposes, but the masses of people who have been taught to think of themselves as threatened whites aren't going to be executing any tight turnarounds any time soon. Do we always reap what we sow? I think if you sow the same stuff for more than 30 years you do.
Anyway, on the day after a wonderful Thanksgiving, I'm just thankful not to have to hear from the bet-against-America crowd every day on my TV set. I trust they are enjoying a long and deep post-turkey nap. I hope it will be very long. Very very deep.