Why Obama Won

All the conservative talking points about demographics are an excuse for not coming to terms with being out of touch.

Republicans have been doing a lot of soul searching following Tuesday’s election and have come up with various explanations as to why their candidate lost. The consensus for now is that the country is changing and that the party is out of step with this change.

Rather than meet this change in a responsible and realistic manner, so many prominent conservatives have resorted to lamenting the passing of a golden era, the death of “real America”. The most common statement thus far been “Obama only won because of demographics” which is a lot like saying “I only failed the math test because of numbers”. Similarly heard is “Obama only won because of the Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, women and urban residents”. Conservatives are pretending that these people are nothing more than special interest groups – as if they don’t already constitute a vast majority of the country.

In other words, when a Republican wins an election, it’s because the country as a whole voted for him – end of story. When a Democrat wins, a black man at that, the electorate is dissected so as to lay blame on those pesky minorities and women.

It should come as no surprise that the Republican establishment is mourning the end of an era in which White men ran the show. Personally, I think this is premature because White men still overwhelmingly run the shows that matter. But still, the times they are a changin.

Here is my favorite excuse from the aftermath. 

You heard it, but have a closer read. “It’s a changing country. The demographics are changing. It’s not a traditional America anymore. And there are fifty percent of the voting public who want stuff. They want things. And who is going to give them things? President Obama. He knows it and he ran on it. And whereby twenty years ago, President Obama would have been roundly defeated, by an establishment candidate like Mitt Romney. The White establishment is now the minority. And the voters, many of them, feel that the economic system is stacked against them and they want stuff. You’re gonna see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama, overwhelming Black vote for President Obama and women will probably break President Obama’s way. People feel they are entitled to things and which candidate between the two are going to give them things?”

So there you have it. White men made the country and now women and the coloreds are destroying it. Rather than thinking about ways to appeal to women and minorities, conservatives are blaming them for not seeing the light, for wanting things, for not working hard enough. The self-victimization never ends.

Jon Stewart describes the conservative resentment most accurately: “They’re really only entitlements when they’re something other people want. When it’s something you want, they’re a hallmark of a civilized society.”

Colbert Super PAC Explained

How is it that a Comedian is teaching Americans more about civics than any politician? 

A Brief Timeline

January 2010: The US Supreme Court rules 5-4 in Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission, that the government may not prohibit organizations such as unions, corporations and political action committees (PACs) from spending money on political campaigns. The ruling was based on the premise that groups of citizens have the same rights as individual citizens and that spending money is a type of free speech protected under the First Amendment.

Shortly thereafter: PACs, which are essentially non-profit organizations that exist to advance the outcome of an election, political issue or legislation, begin to mutate into Super PACs. The main difference is that PACs were restricted in how much money they could spend on election campaigns, whereas Super PACs can spend unlimited amounts. Also, they are not permitted to coordinate with candidates for office. Super PACs are still required to disclose the source of their funds.

May 2011: Stephen Colbert establishes a Super PAC called Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, and begins soliciting viewers for donations to make tomorrow better. It should be noted here that Stephen’s lawyer is Trevor Potter, the former Commissioner and Chairman of the FEC (the losing side in the Supreme Court case referenced above).

August 2011: Colbert Super PAC’s first TV ad hits the Iowa airwaves. It was weird. The second was mildly disturbing.

September 2011: Stephen Colbert forms a shell corporation (usually established so that companies can do things indirectly in order to avoid publicity and taxes), which allows Stephen to anonymously direct unlimited amounts of money to his Super PAC. I repeat, anonymously! All legal!

January 2012: Stephen announces that he will explore a run for President in the South Carolina Republican primary election. To comply with non-coordination requirements, Stephen legally handed over control of his super PAC to fellow comedian and former boss, Jon Stewart. Colbert Super PAC began to be referred to as the “Definitely not coordinating with Stephen Colbert Super PAC”. As the two men pointed out, the fact that they were close friends and business partners was not a legal barrier.

South Carolina Ads: In the run-up to the primary, Stephen suggested that Mitt Romney is a serial killer. Since he could not get his name onto the ballot in time, and since Herman Cain had dropped out of the race already, Colbert Super PAC urged South Carolinians to vote for Herman Cain as a sort of perverted proxy candidate. And then there was the attack ad on how super PACs carry out too many attack ads.  Even Samuel L. Jackson pitched in to narrate this ad, which actually attacks Stephen.

Conclusion: Through Herman Cain, Stephen managed to garner only 1.1% of the vote, good enough for a distant 5th place. But still, 6,324 registered Republican in South Carolina felt it worthwhile to vote for Stephen. I mean Herman. Not too shabby.

In the end, what Colbert and Stewart have shown is that the current interpretation of the law has so many loopholes that will certainly be exploited by moneyed interests. If Colbert and Stewart can legally claim to not be coordinating with one another and get away with their brand of fake political advocacy, there is nothing to stop corporations from wielding even more influence in an electoral system that is already saturated with money.

FYI – here is a list of Super PACs and the candidates they support.

Newt Wins South Carolina, but at What Cost?

Gingrich walks away from South Carolina as the surprise winner, embarrassing Romney and having said a lot of things he may come to regret.

It was beginning to look as though Mitt Romney was distancing himself from the rest of his Republican competitors. Just a week ago, he had “won” both Iowa and New Hampshire and was heading into South Carolina in the hopes of becoming the first candidate to win all three of the first Republican primaries. Instead, something more historic has happened – a different candidate has won all three. Romney’s distant second place finish came one day after the Iowa Republican Party announced that after counting all the votes, Rick Santorum was the official winner of the caucus.

Key to Gingrich’s victory was appealing to the more conservative elements of South Carolina’s electorate. Let’s keep in mind that Iowa was one of the first states to recognize same-sex marriages and that New Hampshire is a quasi-blue state. South Carolina’s Republican voters are easily the most conservative we have seen in this primary season and Gingrich was keen to exploit that by playing the race/hate/liberal-bashing card. This is the same Gingrich that earlier in January said he would go to the NAACP and urge blacks to demand paychecks, not food stamps. The same Gingrich who referred to Obama as the “best food stamp President in American history“. The same Gingrich who proposed that we hire children as janitors in inner-city (code word for non-white) schools.

This tactic may have worked in South Carolina, but it will not resonate as strongly in Florida, Nevada, Maine, Colorado, Minnesota, Arizona and Michigan, which are all scheduled to have their respective primaries/caucuses over the next month.

Exhausting All Options

Mitt Romney and the anticlimactic inevitability of the Republican nominee

Like a homecoming queen desperately trying to find a suitable date to the prom, the Republican Party continues to stumble from one candidate to another, in the hopes of finding an alternative to the seemingly preordained choice of Mitt Romney. The success of Rick Santorum in the Iowa Caucus is merely the latest attempt to avoid the GOP’s current golden boy; with the exception of Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman, the possibilities have been more or less exhausted.

Before the campaigning got serious, many conservatives seriously considered Sarah Palin as a viable candidate – a line of thinking that was summarily squashed by the Republican establishment and (i.e.) Fox News. Rick Perry launched his candidacy following a stadium prayer rally for a “nation in crisis” and presented himself as the Christian cowboy American wishes it had with George W. Bush. Almost immediately, Michele Bachmann, the then Tea Party favorite, attacked Governor Perry for having signed legislation mandating that children in Texas be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV). Bachmann went on to suggest that the vaccine leads to mental retardation and effectively ended her campaign in mainstream America. Within weeks, the party began to feel uncomfortable with Perry’s compassion for the children of undocumented immigrants, and his inability to remember more than two things at a time.

Herman Cain was the next to storm the polls and vanished almost just as quickly, surrounded by several allegations of sexual misconduct, depriving the country of its most prominent token black presidential candidate to date (and more of the funniest/creepiest campaign ads in a long time). Not long afterwards, Newt Gingrich, no stranger to sexual misconduct himself, was elevated to front-runner status as the self-proclaimed intellectual of the Republican Party. In spite of doing all the right things – complaining about black people on welfare and shedding a few tears on the trail – Gingrich’s star began to fade. Perhaps voters knew deep down that they were merely flirting with Newt in the same way they were with Palin, Bachmann, Perry, and Cain before.

Most recently, Rick Santorum, of Santorum fame, walked away as the surprise winner of the Iowa Caucus, even though he came in second. By nearly tying Mitt Romney, voters are stating clearly that they are willing to consider all options in premature unrepresentative non-binding antiquated electoral events.

With a string of high profile endorsements, including those of Senator John McCain, former president George H. W. Bush and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Mitt Romney is increasingly looking like the establishment’s choice. Santorum offers a last gasp for those values voters concerned about abortion and the lifestyles of homosexuals – something the establishment fears because they know they are on the wrong side of history. Although Romney claims to be a true conservative, his track record as Governor of Massachusetts indicates that he is certainly capable of successfully serving a traditionally liberal constituency – something that virtually every other Republican candidate views as treason.

If and when Romney secures the nomination, expect to see a shift towards the political center as he attempts to soften much of the conservative credibility he has so fervently worked to build up during the primaries. The most common complaint from voters and his opponents, that Romney is an opportunistic flip-flopper, will be put to the test in the general election when confronted with an increasingly assertive incumbent President.

With each successive primary, Republican voters will be forced to choose. After exhausting nearly every alternative (barring Paul and Huntsman), it looks as though the Party is beginning to admit that it must settle. Deep down, we all knew the homecoming queen would feel obliged to pick the rich, handsome quarterback.