Yes, Obama won. Romney lost. But Tuesday’s election was about more than two men. It was about a change in the country. It was about women, and African-Americans, young people, gays and lesbians, and Latinos.
It was about the change that has happened, and the changes yet to come.
The United States is not the overwhelmingly White Anglo Saxon Protestant nation it once was. It’s no longer June and Ward Cleaver and the Beav. It’s Ricky and Lucy, and Modern Family.
It’s Barack Obama – a mixture of minority and soon-to-be-a-minority genes, a modern Everyman who’s more reflective of the country’s population today than any pure whatever can ever be.
And it’s a wakeup call for the Republicans. Yet another one. The change that Ronald Reagan recognized more than 30 years ago has come to pass. And if the Republicans don’t finally embrace that change – truly make themselves part of it, instead of just pandering and trying to make it part of them – the GOP will die.
President Barack Obama, the 44th president in the nation’s history and it’s first African-American/mixed-race son of a black father and a white mother, said as much in his victory speech to a massive crowd in Chicago that was as mixed as the nation’s population.
“Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward,” he said, to thunderous applause. “It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope, the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people.”
The election was about the economy, the Republicans said, again and again.
They were wrong.
It was about women’s rights, same-sex marriage, immigration reform. It was about inclusion. And it was about equality.
A CBS News exit poll showed that Obama won more than 70 percent of the Hispanic vote, more than 90 percent of the black vote, more than 70 percent of the Asian vote, and trounced Romney by better than 2-to-1 with 18- to 29-year-old white voters.
Romney won among older whites. That’s it.
This time, Latinos finally lived up to the hype. The Hispanic turnout hit 10 percent for the first time in history. It solidified wins for Obama in Pennsylvania, Colorado and Nevada, and very likely shifted the night-long balance of power in Virginia and put it back in the president’s column for the final tally.
“We have a Latino problem that just cost us a national election,” GOP strategist Mike Murphy said on NBC after the results rolled in. “We’re going to have to have a very adult conversation that might turn into an inter-party fistfight about how we become electable again.”
And Republicans know the impact of Latino voters will only grow. It’s simple math: Hispanics are the fastest growing segment of the population.
Alex Schriver, chair of the College Republican National Committee, announced it on Twitter. “Our party must do better with young voters & Hispanics,” he wrote. “They are BOTH existential threats to our movement. Let THAT be the lesson of 2012.”
In his concession speech, Mitt Romney acknowledged the difficult road ahead for the nation, and spoke of inclusion of a different sort.
“The nation, as you know, is at a critical point,” he said to a subdued crowd in Boston. “At a time like this, we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work. And we citizens also have to rise to the occasion. … I believe in America. I believe in the people of America.”
But Ana Navarro, a Republican political analyst and former national co-chair of John McCain’s Hispanic Advisory Council, put the blame for Romney’s loss squarely on his hard-line immigration position, and on distancing himself – and his party – from Hispanics.
After Obama was declared the winner, she tweeted:
“Mitt Romney self-deported himself from the White House”