By Ed Morales –
President Obama won re-election in large part due to overwhelming support from women, African-American and Latino voters. Obama’s victory in the general election was not by a huge margin — despite winning by almost 100 electoral votes, he squeaked by in the popular vote — but his victory spoke volumes about America’s new voice. According to exit polls, he won despite Romney capturing about 60 percent of the white electorate.
The fact that he won even though his first term was mired by a sluggish economy and not distinguished by strong political victories other than his health care reform bill was impressive. But when you factor in the more than $1 billion spent by pro-Republican groups on the national elections, as well as various efforts to suppress minority and elderly voting in key states, it’s clear who the new majority is.
Perhaps the biggest shift in favor of Obama this time around was in the Latino electorate, whose support for the president increased to almost 75 percent by some estimates. Romney’s dismal rhetoric toward undocumented immigrants offended the community as a whole.
Just eight years after George W. Bush was elected in 2004, the GOP share of the Latino vote shrank from around 40 percent to somewhere near 25 percent. This change is a significant one for both parties.
Fox News host Bill O’Reilly announced solemnly that the election proves “the white establishment is the minority.” But while he was speaking the truth in a way, his contempt for people of color compelled him to say that it was because these groups “want things,” implying a “free ride” from government.
O’Reilly could not have been more wrong. What the new majority wants is not entitlements, but equal rights and access to power. We want health care policies that truly serve the majority at a reasonable cost. We want an end to tax policies that favor the wealthiest. We want real immigration reform that ends criminalization and the collateral damage of increased discrimination.
It is time for Obama to deliver on the promise of his candidacy. Bipartisan efforts are welcome, but only as long as they don’t involve the imposition of unfair burdens on the poor, working and middle classes to satisfy the austerity agendas of bailed-out financiers.
The new majority has spoken, and it time for Obama to double down on audacity and deliver on what most of America has long been hoping for.