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Reflections on the 2012 Election


Leading up to November 6, I found myself focused on the matter of voter suppression and electoral shenanigans committed by the Republicans. This concern was not for nothing. Prior to and on Election Day there were myriad attempts to subvert the vote, particularly the vote of people of color. Frivolous voter challenges started well before Election Day itself, again targeting African American and Latino voters.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>Despite efforts by the political Right to dampen African American enthusiasm for Obama, using the issue of same-sex marriage, this tactic failed dismally. And Romney’s cynical anti-Latino approach, as evidenced during this primary campaign, came back to bite him in the rear.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>I went three times to try to engage in early voting.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>On the third time, I thought I had arrived early enough only to discover that the line started well within the building. I was on line for two hours, and this was early voting.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>In effect, what we saw was a counterattack by the African American and Latino electorate against those who would attempt to disenfranchise us. The obvious intent to eliminate African American and Latino voters, rather than scaring us into submission and docility, energized us to turn out in record numbers. There are many lessons there and one is that we can actually overwhelm the other side by sheer numbers and audacity.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>In some communities, the unemployment is closer to 20%.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>So, what happened?

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>The percentage of white voters dropped from 74% to 72% between 2008 and 2012. Romney received 59% of the white vote.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>The Romney/Ryan camp was entirely unprepared for this.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>(Attacks such as Donald Trump’s insulting demand that President Obama turn over his college transcripts. The suggestion of such an action is almost unbelievable. Nothing along those lines would have been tolerated when it came to former President George W. Bush, an individual who was not half the student that was Obama in college. The same goes for the right-wing, irrationalist political movement that asserts that Obama was not born in the United States and is, therefore, not the legitimate president of the United States.)

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>The results of the election conform much more to our conclusions. The vote for Obama, particularly by people of color, could not possibly have been the result of the conclusion that Obama’s record made him the great leader.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>So, what then could one say motivated the vote?

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>Instead, we are moving more towards something else, toward a more openly multi- ethnic/multi-racial society, if not politically then at least numerically.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>Romney was proposing to reduce the role of government even further, at least when it came to supporting something approaching a social safety net. 61 million people recognized the barbarism contained in his message and program, and responded accordingly.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>In the lead up to the 2012 elections the Left was badly divided over how to respond. One segment, which we will describe as the "mouths that screeched" were adamant that Obama had betrayed progressives; that he was not progressive; that he represented the empire; and therefore not only should not be supported but that it was ideological treason to suggest any level of support or even just to give him a vote without any implied support.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>We on the Left must pay much greater attention to what is transpiring among the people themselves. The fact that so many on the Left focused on Obama’s record and virtually ignored the intense racist offensive against Obama (and its broader implications) demonstrated that many of our friends are out of touch with reality.

mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a racial justice, labor and international writer and activist. He is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, an editorial board member of BlackCommentator.com, the co-author of Solidarity Divided, and the author of the forthcoming "They’re Bankrupting Us–And Twenty Other Myths about Unions.” He can be reached at billfletcherjr@gmail.com.

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