Even in defeat, Mitt Romney and the GOP still reek of unmitigated White privileged.
Somehow, Romney, his team and the rest of GOP thought that they had the election so in the bag–and in their pockets: GOP candidate outspent Obama during the campaign–that the governor “was shellshocked” over his defeat, according to an aide interviewed by CBS News.
It is something of an odd post-Election Day revelation, given that most objective polls had the race in a tight heat and most minorities going for Obama. Then again, White privilege is no respecter of objectivity; it simply revels in its socioeconomically isolated truism, geographically and ethnically partitioned from the emerging reality that voters refused to allow Romney and GOP to ignore.
According to the CBS News report, Romney’s team, headquartered in Boston, began to panic after getting reports from campaign workers on the ground that Obama supporters were showing up in huge numbers in northeastern Ohio, northern Virginia, central Florida and Miami-Dade. Early polling also pointed favorable to the president.
They proved correct: Though Blacks make up only 12 percent of Ohio’s population, they made up 15 percent of that state’s electorate; Obama won the Latino vote in Florida 60-39, narrowly losing the Cuban-American vote 52-48 but earning 83 percent of the Puerto Rican vote to Romney’s 13 percent. Similar demographic support for President Obama was reported across the rest of the country.
As these figures streamed in to Team Romney’s headquarters, staff members and the candidate himself reportedly could not process the reality that Ohio and other toss-up states had given them the Heisman.
Depending on the White vote to carry him to victory, the minister of “self-deportation” truly believed that an aging, ideologically out-of-step voting populace would really take him to the Promise Land. He believed that telling millions of innocent, well-meaning illegal immigrants who want to earn their right to citizenship to essentially “get out” would bode well with their American, voting families.
“We went into the evening confident we had a good path to victory,” one senior adviser said to CBS News. “I don’t think there was one person who saw this coming.”
I believe him.
Surrounding yourself with people who say Colin Powell supports Obama because he is Black will do that to you. And relying on mostly White support–and ignoring the 47 percent–certainly blinded the GOP candidate’s lens of reality. Though, according to CBS News, no one could tell that to Team Romney:
Romney and his campaign had gone into the evening confident they had a good path to victory, for emotional and intellectual reasons. The huge and enthusiastic crowds in swing state after swing state in recent weeks – not only for Romney but also for Paul Ryan – bolstered what they believed intellectually: that Obama would not get the kind of turnout he had in 2008.
They thought intensity and enthusiasm were on their side this time – poll after poll showed Republicans were more motivated to vote than Democrats – and that would translate into votes for Romney.
In fact, a new motivation emerged that translated into votes–for Obama. As The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson penned in a recent column, “the America of today asserted itself”:
Nationwide, roughly three of every 10 voters Tuesday were minorities. African Americans chose Obama by 93 percent, Latinos by 71 percent and Asian Americans, the nation’s fastest-growing minority, by 73 percent.
These are astounding margins, and I think they have less to do with specific policies than with broader issues of identity and privilege. I think that when black Americans saw Republicans treat President Obama with open disrespect and try their best to undermine his legitimacy, they were offended. When Latinos heard Republicans insist there should be no compassion for undocumented immigrants, I believe they were angered. When Asian Americans heard Republicans speak of China in almost “Yellow Peril” terms, I imagine they were insulted.
Given those huge turnouts, I think they were more than insulted. “Done,” “through,” and outright “turned off” are more like it. Meanwhile, Romney and his team were clearly tuned out–of reality, that is. So when they said they did not see this coming, I truly believe them.
They were comfortable in their White, privileged environs, confident that out-raising POTUS and over-catering to mostly White voters would do the trick. Romney and Co. were tricked by their own ignorance and self-ingratiation instead. Even on election night, reality alluded Romney and Co.:
Their emotion was visible on their faces when they walked on stage after Romney finished his remarks, which Romney had hastily composed, knowing he had to say something. Both wives looked stricken, and Ryan himself seemed grim. They all were thrust on that stage without understanding what had just happened.
Mrs. Romney and Mrs. Ryan were reportedly in tears over the loss. I think much of it was disappointment, though much more was of egg rolling down their cheeks. And when Romney delivered his concession speech, he looked like he wanted to follow suit. In hindsight, I guess he was still in “shock?”
Naw. I prefer calling it the “ultimate White privilege gas face moment.”
The following morning at a breakfast with Romney’s wealthiest donors, The Washington Post reports that the super-rich White men who hoped their millions would buy their man victory were livid:
Some top donors privately unloaded on Romney’s senior staff, describing it as a junior varsity operation that failed to adequately insulate and defend Romney through a summer of relentless attacks from the Obama campaign over his business career and personal wealth.
“Everybody feels like they were a bunch of well-meaning folks who were, to use a phrase that Governor Romney coined to describe his opponent, way in over their heads,” said one member of the campaign’s national finance committee, who requested anonymity to speak candidly.
So, the privileged thinking was this: had Team Romney worked their candidate’s magic b.s. better, their dollars would have been enough to win (buy) the election. Do those donor’s need to buy a seeing-eye in order to see the light? But they were not alone. Karl Rove’s Crossroads had this to say on why Mitt lost:
Karl Rove’s Crossroads outfit is holding a phone calls for its big donors Thursday to sum up the race, said Stan Hubbard, a Minnesota media mogul and mega-donor. “Obviously, somebody made a mistake and didn’t do things right. There’s no question about that,” he said.
Romney and his allies spent $1.2 billion dollars on the race, compared to $1 billion spent by Obama and his allies, according to a POLITICO analysis of records on Federal Election Commission data and public statements. Nearly 40 percent of Team Romney’s spending came from super PACs and other unlimited outside money groups, compared to about 12 percent for Team Obama.
On Election Day, a growing, diverse America told him there was one house neither his millions could buy or his limited base could help him move into. Money and White privilege didn’t work on Tuesday. Though, I doubt if this generation of GOPers will ever get the memo. (I’m not even sure Rove got his from Ohio, yet).
However, if he or the next GOP candidate can learn anything from this election, it’s this: Stop looking only at those White faces at rallys and country clubs who say that they are enough to “take their country back.” The GOP should take a look (and I do mean a long one) at the diverse ethnic groups who supported Obama and think of ways –meaning non-polarizing policies–they can earn their votes.
But, whatever the GOP does, they must not look in the mirror for answers. That’s what got Romney and the GOP “shellshocked” to begin with.