Tuesday night on Fox News, host Bill O’Reilly said this: “Obama wins because it’s not a traditional America anymore. The white establishment is the minority. People want things.”
That essentially sums up one of the primary talking points used by a good number of conservatives during this election cycle, even after Tuesday’s election. Another thread of it claims that black people, in particular, ignored everything else and just wanted to make sure the black dude won.
I would say this more forcefully in a different setting, but that view is simply wrong — and harmful to the long-term viability of the Republican Party. The vast majority of the Americans — yes, Americans — who voted to re-elect President Barack Obama did not do it because they are looking for a handout or because they are lazy or because they want to be taken care of from cradle to grave.
It isn’t because they are against capitalism or want abortion on-demand or want the budget busted or the deficit to remain above $1 trillion or unemployment to remain high, or want to see the destruction of marriage.
The bulk of his supporters took a look at all the evidence, put it into context and believed that Obama had earned a second term. No, they are not satisfied with where the economy is, but they know that creating 170,000 jobs a month — and almost 5.5 million in 2 and a half years — is much better than losing 800,000 jobs in a single month in a contracting economy.
They know that the Republican strategy to regain power was largely built upon the notion of as much obstructionism as possible, even with all of the big issues this country needs to solve.
They know that Osama bin Laden is dead and we are out of Iraq, even if Afghanistan is still much more of a question mark than anyone is comfortable with.
They know that there are some real “moochers” who are taking advantage of the system and not working hard enough — and that they must be better identified and stopped — but they also know the number of moochers is relatively small and that preserving the safety net must take precedence over protecting the richest among us from any and all tax increases.
They know that the job the president has undertaken is hard and complicated and has never been successfully done without mistakes made along the way by anyone who has served in that office.
They have morals, too, and a strong work ethic and pride and a thirst to make this country better — just like their conservative and Republican counter-parts, even if they don’t agree on just how those things should play out in the real world.
Here is something else that the likes of O’Reilly and others must remember: The GOP will not win over enough of those supporters to win future national elections if the party continues to pretend that most of them are simply people looking for a handout. If that’s where the party remains, it will experience more nights like last night.