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Originally published at Faith Seeking Understanding. You can comment here or there.

So, I finally got the new wireless router which means I have internet access in my bedroom again. As I’m still hacking up half a lung and I’m a bit self-conscious about the coughing (I’d blame my sister for that one, but I fear it’s probably just me being me), this is important – it means I have consistent internet access once again. I’m going to try to get back to people on lots of comments they’ve made over the next few days Also catch up with everyone else. Thanks to everyone who’s kept up with me.

Also, you may have heard about the attacks between Gaza and Israel. I happen to know two Arab Christian sisters, from the Tel Aviv area who have been working as kind of community organizers in the Gaza strip for the better part of the last century. I’ve gotten a belly full of stories in our regular emails, and that (along with the fact that I haven’t heard from them recently, which makes me a little concerned for their safety) has driven me to follow this news story closely. I have definite thoughts there but need to sort them out and also do a bit of research before they’re really shareable. So I won’t go into that today, except to say this: if you think this is all Hamas’s fault, or all Israel’s, you might want to reconsider that. Nothing in this region is that simple.

That’s not what I want to talk about today, though. I know the US elections are over and a lot of people are ready to let Mr. Romney slide quietly away, but he’s said something that deserves attention. Here’s how the NY Times described a conversation why he tried to explain why he lost:


In a conference call with fund-raisers and donors to his campaign, Mr. Romney said Wednesday afternoon that the president had followed the “old playbook” of using targeted initiatives to woo specific interest groups — “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.”

“In each case, they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Mr. Romney said, contrasting Mr. Obama’s strategy to his own of “talking about big issues for the whole country: military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs and so forth.”

Mr. Romney’s comments in the 20-minute conference call came after his running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, told WISC-TV in Madison on Monday that their loss was a result of Mr. Obama’s strength in “urban areas,” an analysis that did not account for Mr. Obama’s victories in more rural states like Iowa and New Hampshire or the decrease in the number of votes for the president relative to 2008 in critical urban counties in Ohio.

“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” Mr. Romney said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”

The president’s health care plan, he said, was also a useful tool in mobilizing black and Hispanic voters. Though Mr. Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minorities coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers: 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Hispanics.

“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge,” Mr. Romney said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”

Ninety-second version: Mr. Obama won because he gave a series of gifts to hispanics, Afro-Americans, and young voters. Now, this is beyond rich coming from Mr. Romney (recall, he’s the guy who got caught on tape saying he had nothing to offer 47% of the country, and whose adviser said he’d just shake up an etch-a-sketch when he moved from primaries to the general election). The first characteristic that comes to my mind when I think of Mr. Romney is “malleable” – the man said whatever he thought would go over well with his current audience. I’m all for putting the common good over individual interests, but Mr. Romney isn’t one to talk on this topic.

More importantly, though, those comments simply aren’t true and are actually pretty insulting. I think I still count as a young person (I rounded thirty last summer but I’m still in grad school). Until my current degree, that was all done at state schools, and I relied on a combination of parental savings and scholarships/fellowships to pay for them. I feel the same frustration at the thought of my fellow students who opted to go to private schools having their debt wiped clear. I’m also not sexually active, so the contraception mandate doesn’t affect me personally. The extralegal bombing of Libya, the complete _____ that is the NDAA and drone warfare, the recent _____ that is the Obama administration’s statements on Israel to say nothing about the _____ing hubris it takes to arrest Occupy protesters without a single bank executive ending up in jail let alone the truly ______’d ineptitude that was their handling of deficit-reduction negotiations… if Mr. Obama had fixed even one of these issues, that would have been a motivating gift. Perhaps not for my demographic, but definitely for me.

(I try to keep the language here PG13 at worst, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to use watered-down, completely-inadequate descriptors here. Consider it a choose-your-own-profanity story.)

I’m actually aghast that Mr. Romney thinks people earning $25,000-$35,000 are Afro-American. Perhaps all the white people he knows earn seven (going on ten) figures a year, but a good number of white people around this country earn salaries in that ballpark. And white people have health problems, too. I suspect the GOP did more to drive the Afro-American vote to Obama than he ever could have, with the racist rhetoric we’ve seen on display from the Tea Party and voter registration laws that can be charitably described as a poll tax for the twenty-first century. As for Latinos, while I’m sure they don’t enjoy being denigrated by Mr. Romney’s party’s assumptions about real Americans and the need to show your papers, it’s simply not true that immigration is a Latino issue. Of the two people I know who would (and should!) benefit from DREAM-like legislation, one is Macedonian-American and the other is Lebanese-American.

But, if I may be allowed a “camera three” moment with Mr. Romney: what really goads me is your clear implication that voting for policies in your interest is somehow not legitimate. How is this any different than when rich men vote for the candidate who will give them less redundant and lower taxes, or when the Christian Right votes for the candidate who promises to overturn Roe, or when the military contractor votes for the more hawkish candidate? It’s not. These aren’t gifts, they aren’t incentives to cheat, and there’s nothing questionable about a poor person voting for his or her priorities, just as rich people almost always do.

I’m a little peeved, if you can’t tell. I wrestled with my conscious for months and voted for the man who I thought was the best candidate for the job. So did millions of other Americans. The fact that 51.4% of us didn’t vote for Mr. Romney doesn’t mean we entered the voting booth and had an “oooh, shiny!!!” moment.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
hhimring
Nov. 16th, 2012 08:07 am (UTC)
Good to hear your computer problems are solved, but I don't like the sound of that cough. Is it actually getting worse or are you just being more candid in describing it?

(I can't comment on Romney, really, I'm afraid, although the idea that healthcare is a "gift" doesn't seem right to me at all.)
marta_bee
Nov. 18th, 2012 08:54 am (UTC)
I think the cough is much better, though it's really not clearing up totally, which it should. If it's still like this on Monday I may try for another appointment. I was probably being a little overly dramatic.

As for Romney comments... I can see why you wouldn't want to wade in, or feel qualified. Politics has become a bit of an obsession for me this election, for wahtever reason.
azalaisdep
Nov. 16th, 2012 09:03 am (UTC)
I mentioned this already over on my own journal, because it seemed like such a shaft of centre-right sanity, but have you read this blog post?

I would love to think that a few of the Republican hierarchy might read it and have a shaft-of-light moment, but that may be overly optimistic?...
marta_bee
Nov. 18th, 2012 09:00 am (UTC)
I did read that, and it was great! Missed your post, though. (I'm so behind on other folks' LJ posts.)

One bit of hope: a lot of people on the right were really caught off guard by this loss, and I think a fair few get that they were really at a disadvantage because their news just didn't connect up with reality. Even at Fox News, one of their anchors asked some Republican talking-head whether the predictions he was making (this was just before the election, though you saw the basic point afterward) were actually based on math or if he was just playing with numbers to make himself feel good. There's this one blogger I read who said of religious conservatives, you could tell the hucksters from the true believers based on their reaction. The folks who didn't care about actual governing and were just trying to make a buck or two off getting people outraged say we should keep doing what we're doing, because they're still getting rich. But the folks who really genuinely care about conservative values (they do exist, and it's not just the racists/misogynists/etc.), they seem to get that something needs to change. I see glimmers of hope, though I may be deceiving myself.
spacellama
Nov. 16th, 2012 04:16 pm (UTC)
Mr. Romney thinks people earning $25,000-$35,000 are Afro-American. <-- Did he say that? I haven't read the full transcript, but I didn't see that in the excerpt here.

Clearly Mr Romney doesn't understand demographics: the 47% aren't who he thinks they are. I know plenty of poor redneck folk on welfare who voted for him. They were ardently in support of him, in fact. And I know lots of rich, self-indulgent white folk who voted for Obama. Demographics are just numbers; an elected representative must understand the electorate as more than numbers.
marta_bee
Nov. 18th, 2012 09:08 am (UTC)
I may be seeing implications that aren't there. The way I read it, Romney makes two claims:

1 - Healthcare is particularly important to people with incomes 25k-35k, and
2 - Healthcare was enough of a gift it motivated Afro-Americans to vote

... which sounds like Romney thinks Afro-Americans were concerned about health-care, so are probably poor. The way those two statements are so close and build on each other, it *does* sound like he means them to be connected. (He's almost using Afro-Americans and people who make $25k-35k interchangeably.) But it's certainly not explicit or anything. Maybe I'm misreading him?
spacellama
Nov. 20th, 2012 04:32 pm (UTC)
Not sure that you're misreading him. He's never struck me as someone who's delved down deep in the demographic numbers. And though Romney himself has never struck me as a particularly nasty human, assuming that any group is homogeneous (and that your self-identified group is in any way better) is the dictionary definition of bigotry.
foxrafer
Nov. 17th, 2012 01:53 pm (UTC)
Part of me hopes the Republicans continue down this path because the more they whine and blame people who they believe only want hand-outs for their losses the less likely they are to ever win another national election ever again.
marta_bee
Nov. 18th, 2012 09:11 am (UTC)
This may sound weird, but I want a strong opponent I can respect. For one, people who aren't happy with liberal policies; they just get frustrated and feel unrepresented when the conservative party is dysfunctional like that.

But even more importantly, I like good conversation. I think my own ideas are better when someone challenges them. I like a dialectic. I'd much rather have two parties working together in an "iron sharpens iron" kind of way. But then, that's just my own personality, I think.
foxrafer
Nov. 18th, 2012 10:52 am (UTC)
I like an honest debate as well, but that's not going to happen with this Republican party. So until they start to elect people who honestly want to serve their country and not just win elections so they can fatten their pockets I'll take whatever rhetoric they choose to throw out there that will hopefully mean their demise.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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